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Internal Research Fellow (PostDoc) in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics


  • Organization: ESA - European Space Agency
  • Location: Noordwijk-Binnen
  • Grade: F2 - Research Fellowship
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Physics and Mathematics
    • Information Technology and Computer Science
    • Scientist and Researcher
  • Closing Date: 2022-10-04


Internal Research Fellowship Opportunity in the Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality.


ESA is an equal opportunity employer, committed to achieving diversity within the workforce and creating an inclusive working environment. For this purpose, we welcome applications from all qualified candidates irrespective of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, beliefs, age, disability or other characteristics. Applications from women are encouraged.


This post is classified F2 on the Coordinated Organisations’ salary scale..


ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands  


Our team and mission

This research fellowship will be carried out in ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team (ACT): a group of research fellows (PostDocs) and young graduates who originate from a broad variety of academic fields and are aiming for an academic career. Its task is to monitor, perform and foster research on advanced space systems, innovative concepts and working methods. It interacts externally almost exclusively with academia and operates as a truly interdisciplinary team bound to high scientific standards. Through its research, the team acts as a pathfinder to explore novel, potentially promising areas for ESA and the space sector, ranging from applied to fundamental research topics. An important task of the team is to communicate scientific trends and results, as input to the strategic planning of the Agency.


The team entered the field of computer science and applied mathematics in 2004, carrying out research projects related to distributed parallel GPU optimisation (e.g. pagmo2), Taylor-based numerical integration of ODEs (e.g., heyoka), differential algebra and high order automated differentiation (audi), to name just a few. The open science approach was pursued in all these research projects being considered a necessary paradigm by the team. 


Candidates are strongly encouraged to familiar themselves with the research done by the ACT (, in particular in the field of computer science & applied mathematics and the related open-source projects and competitions.


You are encouraged to visit the ESA website:

Field(s) of activity/research for the traineeship

You will carry out research in the field of computer science and applied mathematics. Areas of research are partly chosen by the successful candidate based on expert judgements and insight into trends and developments, and partly chosen by the team so as to follow strategic directions being pursued by the Agency. 


Scientifically, you will:

  • propose and perform novel research in the field of computer science and applied mathematics, where appropriate, together with universities of ESA Member States (in particular through the Ariadna scheme;
  • propose and develop open source projects, possibly building upon past ACT projects (heyoka, pagmo2, audi, pykep, torchquad, obake, d-CGP, etc.).;
  • organise and guide competitions rooted in computer science or applied mathematics via the European Space Agency’s Kelvins platform (;
  • coordinate the team’s participation in coding initiatives such as Google Summer of Code (GSOC), ESA Summer of Code (SOCIS);
  • provide project support to all ACT scientific projects by proposing advanced computational paradigms, high-performance computing solutions and advanced mathematical tools.


As ACT researcher, you will:

  • publish results in peer-reviewed publications and use modern communication tools to communicate with the broader audience inside and outside ESA;
  • guide and assist interdisciplinary projects with other ACT researchers;
  • participate, together with the team, in the assessment of proposed space system concepts – these not being restricted only to computer science – and propose new concepts and assessment studies; 
  • help maintain and develop the ACT IT server infrastructure;
  • perform and participate in assessments on subjects of strategic interest to ESA, providing in- house expertise for strategy development;
  • benefit from the technology and engineering expertise available at ESTEC.

Technical competencies

Knowledge relevant to the field of research
Research/publication record
Ability to conduct research autonomously
Breadth of exposure coming from past and/or current research/activities
Ability to gather and share relevant information
General interest in space and space research

Behavioural competencies

Result Orientation
Operational Efficiency
Fostering Cooperation
Relationship Management
Continuous Improvement
Forward Thinking 


  • You should have recently completed or be close to completing a PhD in computer science, mathematics or informatics, the subject of the thesis being relevant to the description of the tasks outlined above and be aiming for an academic/research career.
  • Preference will be given to applications submitted by candidates within five years of receiving their PhD.

Additional requirements

  • Solid programming skills in C++ and Python programming languages.
  • Experience in open source projects, GPU programming, distributed computing and cloud computing are considered to be strong assets.
  • Ability and interest in prospective interdisciplinary research
  • Aptitude for contextualising specialised areas of research and quickly assessing their potential with respect to other domains and applications.
  • Academic networking to add functioning links to universities and research institutes.
  • Ability to work in a team, while also being able to work on your own personal research plans and directions.
  •  Natural curiosity and a passion for new subjects and research areas.


The working languages of the Agency are English and French. A good knowledge of one of these is required. Knowledge of another Member State language would be an asset.

The position of Research Fellow at ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team is similar to a regular academic PostDoc placement, with a few notable key differences:

  • ACT research fellows have no teaching obligations. However, they will likely be involved in the mentoring of Young Graduate Trainees and stagiaires (student interns) within the team.
  • As the team does not have a professor-like position, ACT research fellows have more academic responsibility than most PostDocs. This implies more freedom but also more responsibility for their research directions and approaches.
  • ACT research fellows are joining a diverse, changing and interdisciplinary research team embedded in a large space agency, in contrast to a more specialised, focused research group with close or similar abilities.
  • ACT research fellows need to be committed to reaching out to other disciplines, to welcome interdisciplinary research projects and to encourage other researchers to join them in their core research projects (research at the intersections between disciplines). 
  • ACT research fellows need to communicate their expertise and research results internally and externally, including potential implications and importance for ESA’s long-term strategy.


Other information

For behavioural competencies expected from ESA staff in general, please refer to the ESA Competency Framework.


For further information on the Internal Research Fellowship Programme please visit: Internal Research Fellowship


The Agency may require applicants to undergo selection tests.


In addition to your CV and your motivation letter, please add your proposal of no more than 5 pages outlining your proposed research in the "additional documents" field of the "application information" section.


At the Agency we value diversity and we welcome people with disabilities.  Whenever possible, we seek to accommodate individuals with disabilities by providing the necessary support at the workplace.  The Human Resources Department can also provide assistance during the recruitment process. If you would like to discuss this further please contact us at [email protected].


Please note that applications are only considered from nationals of one of the following States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Nationals from Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia, as Associate Member States, or Canada as a Cooperating State, can apply as well as those from Bulgaria, Cyprus and Slovakia as European Cooperating States (ECS).


According to the ESA Convention, the recruitment of staff must take into account an adequate distribution of posts among nationals of the ESA Member States*. When short-listing for an interview, priority will first be given to candidates from under-represented or balanced Member States*.(


In accordance with the European Space Agency’s security procedures and as part of the selection process, successful candidates will be required to undergo basic screening before appointment conducted by an external background screening service. 

*Member States, Associate Members or Cooperating States.

We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.