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ISTA-Fellow: Postdoctoral Program

Are you eager to perform innovative basic research in an international environment? Do you want to push the frontiers of science and go beyond the scientific norms together with supervisors and colleagues that are among the best in the world?

The ISTA-Fellow program at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) offers fully funded (two-year) postdoctoral fellowships for highly qualified candidates who have completed or will soon complete their PhD or equivalent in the natural or computer sciences, mathematics or any related discipline.

Benefits of the ISTA-Fellow fellowships

  • International, Interdisciplinary, and Intersectoral fellowship program
  • 2-year, fully funded postdoctoral position


  • All research fields supported at ISTA will be eligible (see
  • At the date of the deadline, applicants must hold a PhD (or equivalent) or have at least four years of full-time equivalent research experience and anticipate the completion of their PhD degree before the start of their fellowship (which should not be later than ~8 months post-deadline – see guide for applicants). A fellowship contract will not be issued until a copy of the diploma/proof of successful defense is provided.
  • To be additionally considered for a COE-Fellow award, applicants must justify that their proposed project aligns with the research themes/goals of an existing Cluster of Excellence (COE) program in which ISTA participates (see Guide for Applicants and section below).
  • Researchers already employed at ISTA at the call deadline (i.e. 12/06/2024) are not eligible to apply.

Calls for proposals: ISTA-Fellow will recruit 10 fellows, with further fellowships (COE-Fellow) available for eligible applications/projects aligning with ‘Cluster of Excellence’ (COE) program themes.

Call deadline: 12/06/2024

See ‘How to apply’ section below for the Guide for Applicants and application links. Should you have questions on the ISTA-Fellow application process, please see the FAQ section below or contact:

COE-Fellow award

Cluster of Excellence (COE) programs are large-scale, long-term cooperative research programs on key basic research topics. Each COE brings together up to eight universities and/or research institutions from across Austria, and are characterized by cutting-edge research, research-led education, and the advancement of junior researchers, as well as an exchange of knowledge at national and international levels.

ISTA will contribute to existing COE programs in which it participates through COE-Fellow awards. Applicants may request to be considered for a COE-Fellow award in addition to being considered for an ISTA-Fellow award (only one award will be made per fellow), through a single application process. To be considered for a COE-fellow award, applicants must be hosted by a COE-eligible group (applicant must confirm with requested host) and provide a justification (see ‘Guide for Applicants’, section C) as to how their project aligns with the relevant COE program themes.

Current COE programs eligible for ISTA COE-Fellow awards are:

Working conditions

Funding: ISTA-Fellows receive 2-year, full time employment contracts with an internationally competitive salary (min. 69,000 EUR gross) and full social security coverage.

Research Environment: The ISTA-Fellow program offers a stimulating and interdisciplinary environment. Research group leaders are at the forefront of their respective fields: three quarters of faculty have received an ERC grant. Labs are equipped with cutting-edge instrumentation and central Scientific Service Units offer facilities and know-how on an international level.

Family Services: ISTA has an onsite daycare. Reserving a spot in the daycare is subject to availability.

Housing: Depending upon availability, a room in the on-campus guesthouse or apartments can be rented, giving incoming postdocs time to find more permanent accommodation.

Language: The official language of the institute is English. In order to help fellows integrate in the host country, ISTA offers German-language courses on campus.

How to apply (incl. downloads)

Application Process: Overview

  1. Download and carefully review the Guide for Applicants (below)
  2. Create an account at
  3. Verify your account by following the instructions contained within the email sent to you.
  4. Complete the application by entering all required information and uploading all required documents (see Guide for Applicants).
  5. Submit your application.

All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their applications no later than 3 months after the application deadline (including reserve list status where relevant).

The application portal will open on 08/04/2024 and close on 12/06/2024 (14:00 CEST). All applications documents, including referees letters, should be uploaded/submitted by this date/time. (see ‘guide for applicants’ for more details’)



Do I need to submit two applications to be considered for both the ISTA-Fellow award and COE-Fellow award?
No. You submit one application and request to be additionally considered for a COE-Fellow award in the online forms (including a justification – see Guide for Applicants).

Can I hold an ISTA-Fellow award and COE-Fellow award simultaneously (or consecutively)?
No. Successful, highly ranked applications will only be made one offer. The awards have identical duration, salaries and benefits.

What is the supervision/hosting arrangement for ISTA-Fellow/COE-Fellows?
All ISTA/COE-Fellows will have a primary supervisor. The primary supervisor must be an ISTA faculty member. Applicants may propose an optional secondary supervisor, which may be a second ISTA faculty member or external academic (i.e. a faculty member at another institution) should the specific interdisciplinary expertise required for the proposed research not be available at ISTA.

Can I apply prior to completing my PhD?
Yes, provided that you will complete your PhD prior to beginning employment (i.e. max. eight months post-call deadline).

How many positions are available?
10 awards will be made under ISTA-Fellow, with up to a further COE-Fellow award made to eligible projects aligning with ‘Cluster of Excellence’ (COE) program themes.

What is the timeline for the selection process?
All candidates will be notified of the outcome of their application (including reserve list status if relevant) within three months of the application deadline. Candidates who receive an offer must take up employment within eight months of the application deadline.

Can I apply in any of the research fields listed in – and only in these?
Not necessarily. The list of current research groups may include also groups who are in the process of leaving the institute – and will not be able to host new researchers in years following the current Call closure – while at any point of time new groups may be in the process of joining the institute and might not have an official page in the institute website yet (but be fully eligible as potential hosts). For each call, the online application forms provide a list of all the groups eligible to host ISTA-Fellows. Applicants must check that their proposed research matches the research interests of their proposed host(s).

Are candidates already working at ISTA eligible?
No. Candidates who are already employed by ISTA are not eligible and their applications will not be considered.

Can reference letters be requested prior to fully submitting an application?
Yes. After starting an application, you have the option to “save” the application without submitting so that you can return and complete it later. Once you have entered your referees’ information and saved the application, a “contact referees” button will appear at the bottom of the page. Clicking this button will notify your referees that you have requested a letter of reference and they will receive an email from our application system informing them how to upload their reference letter.

By what date must my referees provide their reference letters?
All application documents, including reference letters, must be submitted no later than 14:00 (CEST) on 12/06/2024 (see Guide for Applicants). All applications which are incomplete at the application deadline will be considered ineligible and no exceptions will be made for providing reference letters or other application materials after the deadline.

I have already submitted my application but would like the change something or upload an updated version of one of my documents. What do I do?
Contact We will update your application accordingly provided your request is received prior to the application deadline.

Can I collect reference letters from my referees and send them myself?
No. All referees will receive a link with which they can upload their reference letter directly to our application tool. If for some reason they are unable to do this, they can contact us at and we can upload the letters for them. The reference letters should not be sent via candidates.

How do I know if my referees have sent their letters of recommendation?
After your application has been fully submitted you can check the status of your reference letters by logging in and viewing your submitted application. The application system also enables you to send reminders via the application tool to referees who have not yet submitted their letters.

Who should I contact with questions about the application and selection process?
Please send all queries to

Can I include letters of support from my nominated hosts at ISTA?
No. Application materials should not include any letters of support from your nominated hosts at ISTA. Additionally, neither of your nominated hosts may be listed as a referee on your application.

May I include a letter of support from a nominated external secondary supervisor?
No. Application materials should not include a letter of support from your nominated external secondary supervisor. Additionally, any nominated external secondary supervisor may not be listed as one of the referees on your application.

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