Postdoctoral position in the Standard Candles and Distances

Submission Information
Publish Date: 
Thursday, October 27, 2022
Archive Date: 
Thursday, February 16, 2023
Job Summary
Job Category: 
Post-doctoral Positions and Fellowships
Institution Classification/Type: 
Research Laboratory
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Department Name: 
Job Announcement Text: 

Applications are invited for a postdoctoral position in the Standard Candles and Distances group ( led by Richard I. Anderson at the Institute of Physics and Laboratory of Astrophysics (LASTRO) at EPFL in Switzerland. The position is funded through the ERC Starting Grant "H1PStars -- measuring Hubble's constant to 1% with pulsating stars" and aims to contribute to improved accuracy of distance measurements and the astrophysical understanding of stellar standard candles.

The position’s specific focus is the analysis of observations obtained as part of the VELOcities of CEpheids (VELOCE) project. The first VELOCE data release is currently being prepared and comprises more than 18000 time-series spectra of more than 250 Milky Way Cepheids collected since 2011 (programs are ongoing), rendering VELOCE the largest and most precise Cepheid radial velocity data set to date. The successful candidate will have access to the complete VELOCE database, including proprietary data, which will provide a treasure trove for analysing pulsation phenomena spectroscopically.

The successful candidate's principal responsibilities will include:
A) the scientific exploitation of VELOCE data, published and unpublished
B) planning, coordinating, processing, and performing observations at La Silla Observatory, Chile, and on La Palma, Spain
C) the preparation of future data releases

Additional areas of activity may include the detailed analysis of spectroscopic observations of pulsating stars, contributions towards the processing of radial velocity time series of pulsating stars in Gaia, or other independently led projects that relate to the use of pulsating stars as precise standard candles.

The successful applicant shall contribute to a collaborative and inclusive team atmosphere, and be available for (graduate & undergraduate) student (co-)supervision and mentoring.

Your Profile:

Candidates must have a PhD in astrophysics or related fields by the time the appointment begins. Full working proficiency of the English language is required. Some knowledge of French would be helpful for the day-to-day life, but is not required.

You should consider yourself as a good candidate if you tick several of the points below:
+ demonstrated some scientific independence and assume ownership of the projects you work on
+ strong programming skills, especially in python, and experience in working with UNIX file systems
+ experience in the analysis of time-series observations
+ experience in optical stellar spectroscopy and/or precise (~ 1-10 m/s) radial velocity measurements, e.g. based on the cross-correlation technique
+ expertise in stellar pulsations (notably among evolved stars), oscillations, or multiplicity
+ ability to work with large datasets obtained from multiple observatories and instruments
+ observational experience, and a driver's license for manual transmission cars (needed at observatories)
+ willingness to conduct observations (remotely and on-site) for typically less than 20 nights/year using telescopes in Chile and on the Canary Islands
+ experience in data analysis techniques of astronomical surveys
+ strong communication skills that allow you to effectively coordinate among observers and other partners

Working environment:

The successful applicant will become an integral member of the Standard Candles and Distances research group ( and of the Laboratory of Astrophysics (LASTRO). The core team currently comprises the PI, three postdocs, three PhD students, and undergraduate students from around the world. We are based at Sauverny Observatory near Versoix, Switzerland, where EPFL and the University of Geneva share an inspiring world-class astrophysics research environment. For information on research at EPFL and in Sauverny, visit , and .

Swiss scientists have access to ESO (e.g. VLT, ALMA, E-ELT) and ESA (e.g. HST, JWST, XMM-Newton, Euclid) facilities. EPFL further enjoys preferred access to the 1.2m Swiss Euler telescope at La Silla observatory, Chile, as well as access to the Flemish 1.2m Mercator telescope on La Palma. EPFL is a full member of SDSS-V, DESI, and 4MOST, part of the MOONS and of the future BlueMUSE consortia, and member of the SKA Organisation. EPFL is recognized as one of the best Universities in Europe and covers both engineering and fundamental sciences.

EPFL is located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. However, it is fully feasible to get by in English thanks to a large international community that includes CERN and the United Nations, in addition to many corporate headquarters. Applicants desiring to follow professional development courses at EPFL, or to learn French, will be encouraged to do so.

To apply, please visit:

A complete application will consist of the following:

- motivation letter
- curriculum vitae, incl. names and addresses of three academic references (see more below)
- a publication list with the three publications most relevant to this position highlighted
- research statement (3 pages max)
- in case PhD has not yet been awarded: confirmation of anticipated PhD completion date (incl. official letter head and signature)

The three references should submit their confidential letters of support by e-mail to [email protected] by the application deadline (9 December 2022) stating "VELOCE postdoc" and the name of the applicant in the subject line.

Late applications may be considered at lower priority until the position is filled.

Interviews planned for:
mid January 2023
Selection Deadline:
Friday, 17 February 2023

Included Benefits: 

The position includes a competitive salary (depending on experience) and benefits according to the Swiss social security system (mandatory medical insurance, employer-provided accident insurance, retirement benefits, etc). The contract will be awarded on an annual basis with renewal based on performance, and funding is available until March 2026. Funding for computer equipment, science travel, observations, publication charges, etc. is available. The expected starting date would be in Summer 2023, although slightly earlier or later starting dates may be possible.

Application Deadline: 
Friday, December 9, 2022
Selection Deadline: 
Friday, December 9, 2022
Current Status of Position: 
Accepting Applicants
Apply to Job
Attention To: 
Mr. Richard Anderson
Department Name: 
Anderson Group
Inquiries About Job
Attention To: 
Dr. Richard Anderson
Postdoctoral position in the Standard Candles and Distances