Bell Burnell Postdoctoral Fellowship

Radio Astronomy
Astronomy & Operations
December 22, 2023

Watch director Jessica Dempsey on our Equitable Hiring Program in the video below.

ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, is proud to invite applicants to apply for the Bell Burnell Postdoctoral Fellowship. The fellowship is named in honour, and with support of, Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell – the discoverer of pulsars, pioneer in the field of radio astronomy, and champion of equitable representation, acknowledgement and achievement in astronomy.

Bell Burnell Fellows will represent and reflect all of ASTRON’s foundational values as it continues its 75 year leadership in radio astronomy discovery and innovation. The fellowship provides an outstanding opportunity for a scientist to pursue innovative research and development in an institute that spans the entire spectrum of radio astronomy expertise – from development, to operation, to science frontiers. The Fellows will have access to radio technologies, facilities, and expertise in the preeminent radio observatories of the present and future. 

The ideal Bell Burnell Fellows will be diverse, creative, and trail-blazing. ASTRON is invested in ensuring the fellowship accelerates the careers of the next generation of leading scientists. They will bring creative thinking to our technical, operational, and scientific challenges. We expect Bell Burnell fellows to push science discovery space and contribute to an institute that is committed to being socially-connected, inclusive, and sustainable in science and technology.

The Bell Burnell Postdoctoral Fellowship is designed to help scientists build upon emerging strong careers as independent researchers. A Bell Burnell Fellow will be expected to undertake independent research that makes use of, and contributes to, the observational strengths and capabilities of ASTRON. Within this context, the fellowship is open for any type of science, whether it be technical, instrumental, Galactic, extra-galactic or any other direction. We also explicitly welcome applicants from non-traditional astronomy tracks. ASTRON has experience fostering the best researchers in radio astronomy via their direct exposure to the commissioning and operation of radio instruments. As such, preference will be given to candidates that emphasise the ability to combine their science interests with the development, commissioning or operation of ASTRON’s radio instruments.

ASTRON directly operates LOFAR, the WSRT, and is part of the European VLBI Network (EVN). ASTRON is a founding member of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Observatory, and will be fundamental to the SKA’s commissioning and operation in the coming years. The advertised positions are for 3 years, with a possible extension of 1 year based on exceptional performance. There are currently two positions available this hiring round. 

Essential criteria for the job include:

  • A doctorate in astronomy, physics, or related discipline to radio astronomy (e.g. electrical engineering)
  • Demonstrated research experience and expertise in radio astronomy
  • A record of science innovation and creativity, plus a proven ability and willingness to incorporate novel ideas and approaches into scientific investigations and associated telescopes
  • Demonstrated ability to initiate and lead a project using, or related to, radio telescopes, instrumentation, and/or software
  • The ability to work effectively as part of a multi-disciplinary, regionally dispersed team, across science, operations, and/or engineering
  • Demonstrated contribution to the work environment and culture of their previous affiliations (e.g. service on colloquia organisations, equity, diversity, and inclusion committees etc)
  • Fluent in the verbal and written communication of English

Your duties as a Bell Burnell Fellow will include:

  • Carrying out innovative and self-directed research with use-cases for any of ASTRON’s key facilities, including WSRT, LOFAR, EVN, SKA and its pathfinders;
  • Taking on project collaboration with ASTRON staff, assisting in the commissioning, preparation, and operation of ASTRON and/or SKA facilities;
  • Writing scientific papers for publication and presenting results at major national and international conferences;
  • Fostering a healthy work environment at ASTRON.

While early-career researchers (less than ~6 years post-PhD award) are specifically encouraged to apply, we will consider all candidates regardless of academic age. We will account for career breaks in our evaluation of candidates, including parental leave and care duties. Applicants are encouraged to list such breaks in their CV.  

We offer:

  • A full-time 38 hours per week temporary appointment in the service of the Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes (NWO-I) for the duration of in total 3 years which can be extended for a total duration of 1 year based on exceptional performance
  • A gross monthly salary, on a full-time basis, in the range of € 3170,- to € 5188,- , depending on relevant experience
  • A holiday allowance of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.33% of the gross annual salary
  • A strong pension scheme (ABP)
  • 42 vacation days per year on a full-time 40 hour work week basis
  • A pleasant and stimulating work environment
  • Computer resources (new laptop, access to communal ASTRON cluster)
  • Ample support for conference travel (attending at least one intercontinental and two European conferences annually is supported) and work visits
  • Flexible conditions of employment, tailored to your personal situation (including part time work)
  • Generous relocation expenses and support with finding accommodation

The terms of employment are in accordance with the Netherlands Collective Labour Agreement for Research Institutes (CAO).

The organization:

At ASTRON, we offer an environment where you work alongside experts from various fields and where we have a culture of mutual support. This makes the inspirational environment at ASTRON the biggest playground to innovate where everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive and grow.

What makes ASTRON unique? We constantly push the boundaries of what is technologically possible to make discoveries in radio astronomy happen. Everyone at ASTRON is constantly working at the forefront of innovation. And the innovations derived from our work benefit society as a whole.

We are committed to decreasing our organisational footprint, we explore circular and green computing solutions in partnership with others. Furthermore, we are dedicated to increasing staff diversity and creating a safe and inclusive workplace. We are especially interested in applications from women and other traditionally under-represented groups.

The ASTRON premises are situated in a fantastic area in the middle of a beautiful National Park. We are surrounded by stunning scenery that provides an opportunity to see hares and grazing deer around the building during a lunch walk. 


More information about ASTRON can be found on our websites and For more information on the content of this vacancy, please contact dr. A. R. Offringa (head of LOFAR science; e-mail:, dr. J. R. Callingham (head of SKA science; e-mail: or Alma Kerkhof, HR Officer, phone: +31 521 595 100 or e-mail:

Application requirements and process:

Please apply for this job before December 22, 2023. Positions will remain open until filled with satisfactory candidates. 

Applications must include a single PDF file containing:

  1.  a two-page cover letter addressing the essential criteria and expectations for meeting the listed duties of the job (as listed in this ad); 
  2. a research statement that outlines the applicant’s research background (half-page) and the research they plan to undertake at ASTRON (not exceeding three pages in total, excluding references), and;
  3. a recent CV that includes a list of publications. Applicants are requested to highlight two key papers that they judge as their most important contributions to the literature, and should justify their choice (with a limit of half a page for such information).

Note that reference letters are not required at the time of submission. Reference letters will only be requested from short-listed candidates. 

We expect to conduct online interviews for long-listed candidates approximately in late January 2024. We will then conduct in-person interviews for short-listed candidates approximately in late February 2024, with offers to be made soon after that.

Director Jessica Dempsey on Equitable Hiring

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Bell Burnell Postdoctoral Fellowship

Radio Astronomy
Astronomy & Operations
December 22, 2023

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