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International, Interdisciplinary and Intersectoral Postdocs

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PSI-FELLOW-II-3i (International, Interdisciplinary and Intersectoral Postdocs)

Reporting period: 2016-10-01 to 2018-09-30

The Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Switzerland’s largest research institute for natural and engineering sciences, excels in world-class research on condensed matter, materials sciences, energy, environment and health.

The 60 months PSI-Fellow postdoctoral program at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI, see figure) is open to candidates from all over the world and is intended for experienced researchers after their PhD study to further their scientific training in the four broad areas of expertise at the PSI.
In brief, the program strives for transparency in the selection process, merit-based evaluation of applicants by a reviewing panel of internal and international experts and client-friendliness towards applicant researchers. The application process including guidelines is outlined in detail on the PSI-Fellow-II-3i webpage (

The overall objective of the programme is to boost the fellows’ careers by:
- Providing an interdisciplinary research environment
- Access to a unique combination of complex large-scale research facilities, leading to world-class research and high impact publications
- Broad training opportunities in transferable skills and career development support through individual mentoring schemes
- Access to a strong inter-sectoral and academic network
- Access to a very inspiring international environment with staff from more than 60 nations

This programme trains the next generation of researchers specialised in tapping the full potential of large-scale research facilities and able to stimulate innovation in Europe's industries through future-oriented research and cutting-edge technology that is uniquely available at PSI. The free choice of research topics within the existing wide range of research themes of PSI fosters new ideas and facilitates innovation.
In the first periodic report phase, the programme tasks could be fully achieved. The first call covered by the reporting period (1st of October 2016 to 30th of September 2018) has been published on time and the selection could be accomplished within the planned time frame. External reviewers and the PSI internal research commission have performed the selection of the candidates. The quality of the submitted written applications was high, thus 60 out of 70 eligible candidates achieved the threshold score and was invited for interviews. 33 of these candidates have been recommended for funding; one of these has withdrawn the application. A distribution of the successful candidates shows the following numbers (in brackets) per PSI division: Biology and Chemistry (5), Centre for Proton Therapy (1), General Energy Research (1), Large Scale Facilities (1), Nuclear Energy and Safety (7), Neutrons and Muons (7), Photon Science (10).

The PSI-Fellow programme is managed by a dedicated programme management unit at the PSI who is not only responsible for quality management of the program, but also delivers on administrative capacities needed for the execution of the programme. The programme management unit is also supported by an Advisory Board Committee with expert members that provide advice on various activities of the programme. The integration of the postdoctoral researchers in a research group and laboratory as well as in the PSI-FELLOW program is an important objective to be coordinated by the management team. In September 2017 at the kick-off meeting, the fellows were informed about the concept of the program and about the available resources and training opportunities.

The programme generated significant scientific output with PSI-Fellows presenting at 65 European and international conferences. Almost all fellows have already published a peer reviewed publication (27) and/or presented their work in a conference proceedings (18). The fellows benefited from a broad range of training and educational opportunities. The educational programme offered a set of mandatory and free selectable courses. Beside attending our transferable skill trainings (17 courses), the fellows have shown great interest in increasing their scientific and technical skills by attending scientific schools, workshops or equivalent trainings (25 participations). 18 lectures have been given by the fellows at universities and partner institutes. The programme management unit could organize a very broad partnership for the PSI-FELLOW-II-3i programme. The fellows made use of these established collaboration network. Beside collaborations with numerous academic institutions also inter-sectoral collaborations have been performed. Several fellows made short to medium-term secondments at these academic institutions and companies.
The second call for applications has been started on the 1st of September 2018 with deadline for the submission of applications on the 30th of November. We expect to employ at least 28 fellows for the second PSI-FELLOW-II-3i cycle ending on the 30th of September 2021. Our goal is to provide over the coming years a multidisciplinary research environment with the support of high-level scientists to address some of the world's key challenges related to industry, society, economy and environment. We expect that the fellows' research will be disseminated through approx. 1-2 peer reviewed publications per fellow and presented at approx. 150 international conferences.
The offered transferable skill trainings should support the fellows in the combination of their scientific qualifications with managerial skills, which will strengthen their career opportunities in academia or the private sector. PSI-FELLOW contributes to the sustainable scientific excellence of the ERA by enabling of a new generation of highly qualified researchers and efficiently disseminating scientific knowledge.