It is that time of the season again, when the group I am working in is hiring. In short: if you are a fresh Ph.D. graduate or a post-doc within 10 years of obtaining your Ph.D., and you want to do your own research with at least a tenuous link to materials science, this is the place for you. The job opening is advertised here: http://www.nims.go.jp/icys/recruitment.html and the application deadline is March 29.
In a little more detail, this is what it entails:
- The program is intended to offer tenure-track positions to scientists, i.e. if you are in ICYS (this group) and apply for a permanent position at NIMS (the institute where the group is located), you have automatically passed the first round of application. Despite that, many people use this as a stepping stone for positions in other institutes and universities as well.
- Officially, the ICYS program is intended to improve communication between foreigners and Japanese scientists.
- It is a project for 2 years, with a possible (not so difficult) extension to three years.
- The salary is quite decent, in line with the scandinavian salaries after subtraction of tax.
- You have a research budget of 20 million yen per year (about 20kEuro/year) for anything you want: travel, stuff and even Open Access fees. You can also apply for one of the many funds available in Japan if you need more money.
- You get secretarial support to take care of most of the paperwork, and further support for getting settled in Japan by another organisation.
- You are assigned two “advisers”, but it is up to you how much you use them. They can be useful for getting contacts or access to instruments. Essentially you are free to research anything you want, you are an independent scientist. They may also help you get a permanent position.
- Tsukuba is a great city to live in: quite inexpensive and only 45 minutes by train from Akihabara in the heart of Tokyo.
- The ICYS group is definitely fun, with young people from all over the world, so apply!
Now I understand that it can be quite tricky to think what projects would be considered, so let me give some examples of what some of the ICYS researchers do:
- One researcher is developing new, stable field-effect electron sources for electron microscopes from LaB6 nanowires.
- Another is working on a theoretical project calculating magnetic structures, and a third is measuring and simulating magnetic behaviour at various temperatures of permanent magnets.
- One is calculating the photonic properties of a variety of hypothetical and practical situations
- Some are working on developing better organic and inorganic solar cells
- Others are studying phosphors and ways of improving them
- There have been chemists working on fundamental behaviour of functionalized materials in liquids, and another working on practical, green synthesis routes for a variety of industrially relevant materials.
- There are those of us improving the methods used for studying materials, such as improving SPM systems for nanofabrication and analysis and my research to improve the SAXS methodology.
- There are many working on polymers and biological systems as well, but they work in another building so I am not fully aware of what they do.
So you can research a wide variety of topics, as long as it somehow has something to do with materials science. I found this place a pleasure to work at, with uncommon amounts of freedom. No-one is standing over my shoulder which allowed me to do weird things like spend many days in the workshop milling, drilling and cutting my own instrument. I can go to whatever conference I like, I can collaborate with whomever I want. NIMS also has an enormous amount of instrumentation available, some quite specialised, and money doesn’t seem to be much of an issue.
So, if you want to work here, and are not yet convinced by what I wrote, if you have any further questions, please drop me a line.