Head of the Astrophysics Science Programme

2 december 2021
Max. € 109.000,-

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Are you our new colleague?

We are looking for a collaborative and creative scientist with a vision for the future of high-energy and far-infrared astronomy to become the new Head of the SRON Astrophysics Programme. We offer the opportunity to lead and grow a world-class group of scientists as we continue our mission to develop the next generations of exciting new space instruments and use them to make ground-breaking scientific discoveries. Join our team and help push the leading edge of instrument development, data processing, software development, data analysis, and research with current and future space telescopes.

You and SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research

As Head of the SRON Astrophysics Programme, you have a key role both within the institute and in maintaining our connections with external partners and the larger community. Within the Institute, you provide leadership and vision to the ASG, including working with the staff and Directorate to design the strategy for the future group priorities, talent development and recruitment, mentoring and support of early-career researchers, and overall management and support of the group distributed over our locations in Leiden and Groningen. The Head of the programme also oversees the execution of the Astrophysics mission portfolio and works with the project teams as well as other SRON programme leaders to balance priorities and ensure our instrument and mission development projects are successful. You will be a member of the SRON Management Team and work closely with the Directorate and other programme leaders and senior staff to define and manage the strategic and operational activities of the Institute. Externally, the Head of the group is a key advocate for the SRON Astrophysics Programme within the Dutch and international science community, and instrumental in nurturing our relationships with partner organizations and agencies around the world. In particular, as the home base for Dutch participation in ESA, the working relationship with ESA is central to the mission of SRON. As Head of Astrophysics you will directly support the Director in managing and maintaining that relationship. An active involvement in ongoing SRON research activities is encouraged.

Your position and team

The Astrophysics Programme at SRON is built around our Astrophysics Science Group (ASG) and includes an exciting portfolio of missions we support in various stages of design, development, or operation. The ASG currently consists of about 30 members including 16 permanent research staff as well as a number of postdocs and PhD students. Scientifically, the group is active in a wide range of research areas including compact objects and their evolution, transients and the followup of gravitational wave events, physics of the ISM, star and planet formation, galaxy formation and evolution, galaxy clusters and large-scale structure, and astrostatistics. The ASG also enjoys strong ties to all four Dutch astronomy departments, enabling regular collaboration and research supervision of masters and PhD students. Our mission portfolio contains some of the most exciting observatories currently operating, such as XMM-Newton and Chandra, as well as many powerful new instruments under development including XRISM, Athena, and LISA as well as proposed missions such as eXTP, ARCUS, OASIS, and POEMM. The Astrophysics Programme currently represents an annual budget of 10-12 M€ and, along with members of the ASG itself, includes about 40 staff from our Instrument Science and Engineering divisions. Members of the ASG play a crucial role in the scientific advisory, mission design, and project development teams for all missions in the SRON astrophysics portfolio. They also provide vital expertise and support to the scientific community using those missions. Due to several upcoming retirements, the ASG expects to hire at least three new staff members within the next five years.

Position requirements

The new Head of our Astrophysics Programme will ideally have a research background in astronomy (at the PhD level) or related fields and experience in leading, managing and supporting multi-disciplinary teams that include research and technical staff. Prior experience in the development and execution of space missions or large research infrastructures is a crucial asset. An affinity for and experience with instrumentation, in particular relevant to the SRON Astrophysics Programme, would be highly valued. It is important that the new Head of Astrophysics be a clear communicator and enjoy interacting with a wide range of people including scientists, technical staff, support staff, agency and governmental executives, and the wider community.

Desired qualifications:

  • A doctorate in astronomy, physics or a STEM-related field
  • Experience in managing scientific and technical groups and teams
  • Experience in the successful development and execution of scientific projects, preferably for space missions or large ground-based international projects
  • Experience with technology and instrumentation development
  • Experience with the acquisition of new projects and funding
  • Ability to establish and foster a collaborative and inclusive working environment
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills

At SRON, we believe that a workforce that is diverse in gender, age, and cultural background is key to performing excellent research. We therefore strongly encourage qualified applicants of all ages, sexual orientations, gender expressions, members of minorities, persons with disabilities, and potential dual-academic-career hires to apply.

What we offer

Employment of this full-time position is by NWO-I (The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research Institutes) and will initially be for a period of two years after which the position will become permanent following a satisfactory performance evaluation. In addition, the appointment to the position of Head of the Astrophysics Programme shall be for a term of 5 years and may be renewed for multiple terms. The position can be located at either SRON location in Leiden or Groningen and the starting date is flexible. The salary will be in accordance with the salary scales of NWO-I with a maximum of 110k€ per year. Funding for travel and computing expenses will be provided. We will also provide training and support for your continued career development at SRON.

NWO-I has good secondary employment conditions such as:

  • An end of year bonus of 8,33% of the gross yearly salary
  • 42 days of vacation leave a year on full-time basis
  • An excellent pension scheme
  • Options for (additional) personal development
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross yearly salary
  • Ample training opportunities
  • Possibility of flexible working hours and hybrid working
  • A favorable parental leave scheme


SRON is the Netherlands Institute for Space Research and our mission is to enable breakthroughs in international scientific research from space. Based at locations in Leiden and Groningen, SRON combines fundamental research, technology innovation, and instrumentation development to enable breakthroughs in astrophysics, exoplanet, and earth atmospheric research. SRON is also the national base for the Netherlands participation in the ESA science program. In collaboration with leading partners and agencies such as ESA, NASA and JAXA, SRON provides scientific and technological contributions to international space missions as well as expertise and support to the Dutch and world-wide scientific communities.

About SRON

We have a strong international reputation as 'excellent in space research'. The quality and societal relevance of our science is considered ‘world-leading’. Our mission is to bring about breakthroughs in international space science.

Therefore our Instrument Science Group, supported on project basis by the Engineering Group, technologically enables breakthroughs in our science programmes:

Technology, Astrophysics, Earth science (atmospheric science), Exoplanetary science.

For more information, please contact

More information about SRON can be found at www.sron.nl. For further information about the position itself, please contact Prof. dr. Michael Wise ([email protected]), SRON General and Scientific Director. For information on the employment conditions please contact HR Manager Sandra van Gessel ([email protected]).

To apply, please submit a motivation letter and a CV which includes the names of three references, via our website https://werkenbijsron.nl. You do not need to arrange for reference letters to be sent in advance. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, but review of applications will begin 01 February, 2022. Online screening may be part of the selection procedure.


At SRON we believe that a workforce diverse in gender, age, and cultural background is key to performing excellent research. We therefore strongly encourage qualified applicants of all ages, sexual orientations, gender expressions, members of minorities, persons with disabilities, and potential dual-academic-career hires to apply.

Online screening may be part of the selection procedure.

Recruitment consultants, please put down the phone. We’ll do the recruitment ourselves so unsolicited acquisition to this vacancy is not appreciated.