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Director of Research for Condensed Matter and Physical and Material Sciences

  • Closing soon
  • Closing date: 19 Jul 2020
  • France | European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
  • Date posted: 09 Jun 2020
  • Job type: Research facilities

The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) is a world-leading international scientific research institute. Since the 1990s it operates a storage ring as a dedicated source of synchrotron radiation in the hard X-ray region and experimental beamlines which use the most advanced technology in X-ray optics, detector design and information technology, to push experimental measurements to their practical limits. The ESRF welcomes close to 6000 scientists every year for experiments in fundamental and applied research, in fields such as biology, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, cultural heritage, materials and surface science, and physics. The cutting-edge research carried out at ESRF results in about 1800 peer-reviewed scientific publications every year, among which almost 400 are in highly ranked journals and about 40 in Nature and Science. The ESRF is currently involved in 15 Horizon2020 competitive grants.

The ESRF is a joint undertaking by twenty-two countries with the common interest to strengthen European research and to improve scientific cooperation across disciplinary and national boundaries. It is established as a “Société Civile” under French law.

The ESRF supports the use of its experimental facilities by the scientific communities of its partner countries within the budget decided yearly by the ESRF Council. The ESRF has an annual budget of 100 M€ and employs close to 700 international staff.

Since 2009, the ESRF has been undergoing a major Upgrade Programme, which is foreseen to be completed in 2024. The second phase of this programme, which started in 2015, the so-called ESRF-Extremely Brilliant Source programme (ESRF-EBS), is centred on the construction of a revolutionary low-emittance light source that has just been commissioned, and has increased the brilliance and coherence of the ESRF X-ray beams by a factor of 100: The ESRF is also implementing a data strategy to fully exploit the performances of this new X-ray source, which will resume user operation on 25 August 2020.

In terms of absolute performance, in the coming years the new ESRF EBS storage ring will be the most brilliant high-energy synchrotron radiation source worldwide. The exploitation of this outstanding equipment will be supported by the construction of four new state-of-the-art flagship beamlines and the major refurbishment of some existing beamlines in the period 2021-2024, which, together with the nineteen new instruments delivered in 2015 in the context of the ESRF Upgrade Programme Phase I, will provide ESRF users unique scientific opportunities in the next decade.

The ESRF-EBS is enlisted as a landmark in the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).

The two Directors of Research guide more than 200 staff in the Experiments Division in the implementation of an ambitious scientific and technical programme centred on enabling the user exploitation of the state-of-the-art ESRF X-ray beamlines. Working in tandem, each Research Director has an area of responsibility linked to her/his scientific experience and background in either the context of Life Sciences, Chemistry and Soft Matter Science, or Condensed Matter and Physical and Material Sciences, respectively. They should bring strategic vision for the development of the ESRF science programme, and leadership at the international level, promoting a world-class experimental programme grounded on scientific excellence. They have the opportunity to develop a strong network with colleagues in their area of expertise, both at international and local levels, promote the use of the ESRF with Academia and innovation-driven institutes and industry, and attract several thousand scientists from the partner countries and worldwide.

The Directors of Research have the opportunity to continue an active research programme in their field of interest in parallel to their science policy and management activities.

Today, the ESRF is seeking to recruit the Director of Research in the area of Condensed Matter and Physical and Material Sciences. Together with the Director of Research for Life Sciences, Chemistry and Soft Matter Science, he/she will be responsible for the:

  •     Promotion of scientific excellence in the use of the ESRF facilities by scientists from partner countries and worldwide.
  •     Delivery and operation of the new beamline portfolio in the context of the ESRF Upgrade Programme, and generally the meeting of the objectives of this Programme.
  •     Operation, maintenance and upgrade of existing and future beamlines, and support to the scientific user communities, including management of the beam time assignment process.
  •     Implementation of the ESRF Data Policy (
  •     Implementation of an industrial programme centred on the exploitation of ESRF beamlines and platforms to the benefit of proprietary research of interested commercial companies.
  •     Preparation of future scientific programme plans, financial estimates and staffing plans and, in particular, for the definition of needs in terms of IT, IT infrastructure and related resources in the frame of the new opportunities offered by the EBS storage ring performances and scientific reach.
  •     Management of the Division’s capital investment and running annual expenditure budget (about 12 M€).
  •     Management of the Division’s staff, 75% of whom are scientists, and relations with the (presently) fourteen Collaborating Research Groups (CRGs) operating national beamlines at the ESRF.
  •     Promotion and management of an in-house research programme enabling the Experiments Division scientists to carry out state-of-the-art scientific investigations, and maintaining the competitiveness of the ESRF experimental programme.
  •     Planning and implementation of the beamline renewal and refurbishment programmes in coordination with the ESRF technical support Divisions.

The Directors of Research are assisted in their daily tasks, by a secretariat, six Group Head scientists, and the Heads of the Business Development Office, CRG Office and User Office.

Furthermore, the Directors of Research are given the opportunity to pursue their own research interest with appropriate resources.

The Directors of Research, the Director of the Accelerator and Source Division and the Director of Administration, along with the Heads of the Technical Infrastructure and of the Instrument Support and Development divisions, constitute the ESRF Senior Management reporting directly to the Director General.

Expected profile
The successful candidate is expected to be an internationally renowned X-ray scientist in a field related to Condensed Matter and Physical and Material Sciences. He/she must have extensive experience in the use of synchrotron radiation for cutting-edge research and should have proven strategic leadership, including the capacity to conceive and implement an experimental programme commensurate to available resources (staff and investment budget). Skills in implementing and following up the ESRF experimental programme on the basis of modern managerial and project management schemes are also expected. The working language at the ESRF is English. Knowledge of French would be an asset.
Working conditions

The ESRF fosters an open and family-friendly policy at all levels in the organisation and, in the present Directors of Research recruitment campaign, the ESRF is ready to discuss with the successful candidate actions favouring her/his installation in the Grenoble area.

In order to apply to the position of Director of Research for Condensed Matter and Physical and Material Sciences at the ESRF, interested candidates are invited to address by e-mail their CV and motivation letter by clicking on the red apply button.

Dr Francesco Sette, ESRF Director General, can be contacted at for more details concerning the position.

Deadline for returning applications: 19/07/2020


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