EuroTechPostcoc2. Afbeelding | Bart van Overbeeke

TU/e leads EuroTech postdoc program

A temporary postdoc position is a crucial step in a scientist’s career. As of this week, TU/e will lead a new program within the EuroTech Universities Alliance, in which seventy postdocs will be appointed as EuroTech Marie Curie Fellows in the next five years. Twenty of them will come to work at TU/e for a period of two years. The intention is that each postdoc from the EuroTechPostdoc2 program spends a few months at one of the other five EuroTech Alliance partners.

The program is the successor of the still ongoing first EuroTech postdoc program, which started in 2017. “We continue a successful formula,” says program manager Ingrid Vliegen of TU/e Innovation Lab. “The EuroTech alliance expanded from four to six universities in recent years, with the École Polytechnique (L’X) from Paris and Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) from Haifa; these partners will now also take part in EuroTechPostdoc 2. A second difference is that the new program is open to all research directions, whereas for the first round five focus areas were determined.”

The European Union contributes a sum of 5.1 million euros to the 12.7-euro budget via the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions COFUND program. The remaining sum will be paid by the EuroTech universities, which include – besides the already mentioned institutions – Technical University of Denmark (DTU), École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Technical University of Munich (TUM). Four partners function as host, where the researchers will be employed; besides TU/e these are DTU, TUM and L’X.

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EuroTechPostdoc2 - A postdoctoral fellowship programme of EuroTech Universities, co-funded by the EU

As with the first EuroTech postdoc program, TU/e will appoint a total of twenty postdocs for a period of two years, divided over two application rounds. The first ‘call’ starts this fall and closes in February. The EuroTech Fellows receive a personal travel budget for conference visits and study trips, and they will get together during special bootcamps where they can brush up on their skills and get to know each other better.

A condition for the EuroTech Marie Curie Fellowships is that postdocs didn’t spend longer than one year during the preceding three-year period in the country where they will be appointed as fellow. This is because the European Union wants to encourage more mobility with these fellowships, Vliegen says. “This means that you can’t become a EuroTech Fellow in Eindhoven immediately after obtaining your doctorate at TU/e, but you could however choose TU/e for the so-called ‘secondment,’ for which you in principle spend three months at one of the other EuroTech partners. This way, you gain valuable experience abroad and still maintain ties with TU/e.”

"I like the support I am getting in all kinds of matters"

Maria Pastrama is taking part in the first EuroTech postdoc programme, and was involved in a panel discussion for the online kick-off meeting for the new programme on Wednesday, June 24. The Romanian, who studied in Vienna and subsequently did a postdoc in Leuven, was already working as a postdoc in the Orthopaedic Biomechanics group at TU/e’s Department of Biomedical Engineering when she found out about the EuroTech Fellowships.

“I am studying cartilage mechanics and tissue engineering and I started my fellowship in January of this year with a lab training to learn how to culture cells. This I finished in time to do my secondment in Lausanne, which was supposed to start on March 15.” But just at that moment, the corona crisis kicked in, she says. “So I canceled my trip on the day I was going to leave for Switzerland and I had actually planned to return to Eindhoven last week.” Fortunately, she was able to postpone her secondment to September, when she hopes she can travel to Switzerland without restrictions.

Despite the fact that she has only been a EuroTech Fellow for half a year, and in rather unconventional circumstances at that, Pastrama is very positive about the program and the way it is organized within TU/e. “I met the other TU/e fellows from my cohort twice already before March, and made a trip to Copenhagen to meet the fellows from the other universities just before the borders closed. I like the support I am getting in all kinds of matters; TU/e has probably the best organization of all partner universities.”

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