Netherlands: 8 Post-doctoral Fellowships on the Origin and Evolution of Life

Application Deadline: 26 January 2020

The origin and nature of life and its distribution in the universe are fundamental questions for humanity. How did biomolecules form? How did life emerge? How did cellular functions evolve? Is there life elsewhere? Will life cope with human-induced challenges?


  • are an ambitious scientist fascinated by very fundamental questions about life, and you are ready for the next research career step.
  • have research experience in (bio)chemistry, (bio)physics, molecular biology, computational science, systems biology, evolutionary biology, ecology, astrophysics or geoscience.
  • can develop an original and innovative idea for an interdisciplinary research project on the origins and evolution of life.
  • are curious to learn new scientific languages to make the necessary crossovers between your field and other fields.

Then apply for a position in our exciting interdisciplinary oLife Fellowship Programme.

About the oLife Fellowship Programme

The oLife Fellowship Programme is a joint initiative by seven world-leading research institutes of three universities in The Netherlands (University of Groningen, Leiden University, Eindhoven University of Technology). Supported by funding from the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union, we offer 18 post-doctoral fellowships – of which 8 positions still open – for interdisciplinary research on fundamental questions concerning the origin and evolution of life, and its distribution in the universe.

Using a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach, we aim to break new grounds in four scientific areas:

  • Planetary preconditions and boundary conditions of Life, and its origins here on Earth
  • Defining properties and synthesis of Life, from the molecular to the biosphere level
  • Modelling, predicting and steering of Life
  • Distribution of Life across the universe

Job Description

As a fellow in the oLife Fellowship Programme you are given the opportunity to work on your own interdisciplinary research project with advisors and research institutes of your own choice.

Together with 17 other fellows, you will follow a joint research and training programme, consisting of scientific lectures, academic and professional skills training, and career guidance.

In the Netherlands, teaching and supervising students is an integral part of a researcher’s position. Therefore, you will be expected to prepare and teach your own lecture series on your field(s) of expertise and to supervise student research projects. Also, you are offered the opportunity to go on secondments with our leading industrial, academic or non-profit partner organizations.

For more detailed information about the research, the involved research institutes, prospective supervisors and the training programme, please visit our website: www.olife-programme.eu.

Conditions of employment

You will be offered a starting salary depending on the date you obtained your PhD and your postdoctoral years. According to the Collective Employment Agreement (CAO-NU) of the Dutch universities, the UFO-profile Researcher/Lecturer (scale 10) applies. In addition to the primary salary the University offers 8% holiday allowance and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%. As an indication:

  • 0 years: € 3,255 gross per month for a full-time position
  • 1 year: € 3,389 gross per month for a full-time position
  • 2 years: € 3,514 gross per month for a full-time position
  • 3 years: € 3,637 gross per month for a full-time position.

You will have an initial appointment of 12 months that will be extended by 24 months if you perform satisfactorily. The fellowship will not be extended after the 36 months period.

The preferred starting date is May or June 2020.

The oLife Fellowship Programme has an inclusive policy. Therefore, candidates who have had career breaks or a diversified career path are especially encouraged to apply.


  • You qualify as an Experienced Researcher, meaning that you are in the possession of a doctoral degree or have at least four years of full-time equivalent research experience by January 26, 2020.
  • You have research experience in one or multiple fields relevant to the oLife Fellowship Programme, such as (bio)chemistry, (bio)physics, molecular biology, computational science, systems biology, evolutionary biology, ecology, astrophysics, geoscience or a combination thereof.
  • To comply with EU funding rules, you will not have resided in the Netherlands for more than 12 months during the 3 years prior to January 26,2020.
  • You are proficient in English language (academic level).

How to apply

You may apply for this position until 26 January 2020, 23:59 (CET)/ before 27 January 2020 via our website: www.olife-programme.eu.

The evaluation and selection procedure consists of two rounds:

  1. Proposals (deadline January 26, 2020)
  2. (Web-based) interviews (February/March 2020)

To apply, you are required to complete the online application form and submit one PDF file, containing (in the following order):

  • A motivation letter
  • A detailed Curriculum Vitae, including a publication list (max. 4 A4)
  • A description of relevant research experience and most noticeable research results, including an abstract of your PhD thesis (max 2 A4)
  • A research proposal (max. 5 A4)
  • A copy of your PhD certificate
  • A self-assessment form on ethical issues
  • At least three reference letters (dated and signed) by academic referees, preferably experts in the chosen oLife FP scientific areas. One of these should be your PhD advisor.

You may freely select your own main advisor and co-advisor (via the online application form) and freely propose your research topic. Your research topic should fit within the oLife research framework and should address at least two of the four scientific areas, which are described on our website.

Only applications that are complete and submitted before the application deadline via the e-application tool will be considered.

We explicitly encourage you to contact your preferred advisors when developing your idea, prior to submitting your application.


Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

For more detailed information about the oLife Fellowship Programme and the full application, evaluation and selection procedure, please view our website: www.olife-programme.eu.

The oLife Fellowship Programme is committed to the principles of the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers by the European Commission.

The oLife Fellowship Programme has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 847675.