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Director of Research for Chemistry, Life and Medical Sciences and Soft Matter Science

European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
Grenoble, France
Posting live until
29 Feb 2024

Job Details

The European Synchrotron, the ESRF, is an international research centre based in Grenoble, France.

Through its innovative engineering, pioneering scientific vision and a strong commitment from its 700 staff members, the ESRF is recognised as one of the top research facilities worldwide. Its particle accelerator produces intense X-ray beams that are used by thousands of scientists each year for experiments in diverse fields such as biology, medicine, environmental sciences, cultural heritage, materials science, and physics.

Supported by 21 countries, the ESRF is an equal opportunity employer and encourages diversity.

The Institute:

The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) is a world-leading international scientific research infrastructure supported by twenty-one countries with the common interest to enable frontier synchrotron X-ray science and to improve cooperation across disciplinary and national boundaries. It is established as a “Société Civile” under French law and it is located in Grenoble, at the heart of the French Alps.

Since the 1990s, ESRF operates a storage ring based synchrotron radiation X-ray source and state-of-the-art experimental beamlines. It welcomes close to 6000 scientists every year for experiments in fields such as biology, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, cultural heritage, materials and surface science, medical imaging and radiotherapy, and physics. The ESRF’s access policy is centred on scientific excellence, and the research carried out at its facilities results in about 1800 peer-reviewed scientific publications every year, among which more than 400 are in highly ranked journals. The ESRF is currently involved in 10 ERC grants and in numerous EC and internationally funded grants. 

Openness and scientific and technical interdisciplinarity are key to the ESRF’s success. Recruiting skilled and passionate staff who are motivated to contribute, whether directly or indirectly, to the advancement of science, is crucial for the future of the ESRF as a centre of scientific excellence. The ESRF is committed to sharing science progress and technology with the younger generations and offers various educational programmes for students and training for the next generation of scientists, engineers and technical and administrative staff. It also dedicates significant resources to training its staff to fully develop their potential. At the ESRF, the synergies that emerge between people of different fields, cultures and backgrounds are an extraordinary source of creativity and innovation. Diversity is thus part of the ESRF’s identity and is promoted at all levels. The ESRF is an equal opportunity employer; it employs close to 700 international staff who come from nearly 40 countries. To fulfil its mission, the ESRF operates with an annual budget of about 100 M€.

Since 2009, the ESRF has been implementing its Upgrade Programme, which is foreseen to be completed in 2024. The second and final phase of this programme, which started in 2015, the so-called ESRF-Extremely Brilliant Source (ESRF-EBS) programme, is centred on the construction and exploitation of the new and revolutionary EBS low-emittance storage ring. After a period of shutdown to enable implementation of the new storage ring, the ESRF resumed its user operation in August 2020 with X-ray beam performance increased by a factor of 100 in terms of beam brilliance and coherence: The ESRF-EBS is identified as a landmark in the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).

In terms of absolute performance, the new ESRF EBS storage ring is now, and will be for the coming years, the most brilliant high-energy synchrotron radiation source worldwide and will provide its users with unique scientific opportunities.

The ESRF Council appoints the five ESRF Directors: the Director General, who leads the Directorate (circa 50 staff), the Director of Administration Division (circa 50 staff), the Director of Accelerator and Source Division (circa 80 staff), the Director of Research for Chemistry, Life and Medical Sciences and Soft Matter Science, and the Director of Research for Condensed Matter and Physical and Material Sciences, who together lead the Experiments Division (circa 220 staff).

The ESRF is currently seeking to recruit the next Director of Research for Chemistry, Life and Medical Sciences and Soft Matter Science.

The Role: 

The two Directors of Research guide more than 200 staff in the Experiments Division in the implementation of an ambitious scientific and technical programme centred on enabling the user exploitation of the state-of-the-art ESRF X-ray beamlines. Working in tandem, each Research Director has an area of responsibility linked to her/his scientific experience and background in either the context of Chemistry, Life and Medical Sciences and Soft Matter Science, or Condensed Matter and Physical and Material Sciences, respectively. They should bring strategic vision for the development of the ESRF science programme, and leadership at the international level, promoting a world-class experimental programme grounded on scientific excellence. They have the opportunity to develop a strong network with colleagues in their area of expertise, both at international and local levels, promote the use of the ESRF with Academia and innovation-driven institutes and industry, and attract several thousand scientists from the partner countries and worldwide.

Today, the ESRF is seeking to recruit the Director of Research for Chemistry, Life and Medical Sciences and Soft Matter Science. Together with the Director of Research for Condensed Matter and Physical and Material Sciences, he/she will be responsible for the:

  • Promotion of scientific excellence in the use of the ESRF facilities by scientists from partner countries and worldwide;
  • Delivery and operation of the new beamline portfolio in the context of the ESRF Upgrade Programme, and generally the meeting of the objectives of this Programme;
  • Operation, maintenance and upgrade of existing and future beamlines, and support to the scientific user communities, including management of the beam time assignment process;
  • Promotion and management of an in-house research programme enabling the Experiments Division scientists to carry out state-of-the-art scientific investigations, and maintaining the competitiveness of the ESRF experimental programme;
  • Preparation of future scientific programme plans, financial estimates and staffing plans and, in particular, for the definition of needs in terms of IT, IT infrastructure and related resources in the context of the new opportunities offered by the EBS storage ring performance and scientific reach;
  • Management of the Division’s capital investment and running annual expenditure budget (about 12 M€);
  • Management of the Division’s staff, 75% of whom are scientists, and relations with the (presently) fourteen Collaborating Research Groups (CRGs) operating national beamlines at the ESRF;
  • Planning and implementation of the beamline renewal and refurbishment programmes in coordination with the ESRF Technical Support Divisions;
  • Implementation of an industrial programme centred on the exploitation of ESRF beamlines and platforms to the benefit of proprietary research of interested commercial companies;
  • Implementation of the ESRF Data Policy (

The Directors of Research are assisted in their daily tasks by a secretariat, six Group Head scientists, and the Heads of the Business Development Office, CRG Office and User Office.

Furthermore, the Directors of Research are given the opportunity to pursue, to a reasonable extent, their own research interest with appropriate resources.

The Directors of Research, the Director of the Accelerator and Source Division and the Director of Administration, along with the Heads of the Technical Infrastructure and of the Instrument Support and Development Divisions, constitute the ESRF Senior Management reporting directly to the Director General.

Period of Appointment:

In accordance with the ESRF Statutes, Directors shall be initially appointed for a period not exceeding five years.

Qualifications and Experience:

You are an internationally renowned scientist in a field related to Chemistry, Life and Medical Sciences or Soft Matter Science. You have extensive experience in X-ray science and the use of synchrotron radiation for cutting-edge research. You have a proven record in the successful management of large groups/lab divisions and projects at senior management level and of strategic leadership, including the capacity to conceive and implement an experimental programme commensurate with available resources (staff and investment budget). You have a cooperative leadership style and the ability to inspire and engage the staff. With strong organisational and project management skills, you are able to work in a complex multidisciplinary and international environment, and have excellent communication skills. You are committed to promoting diversity, ethics, integrity and sustainable development. The working language at the ESRF is English. Knowledge of French would be an asset.

The ESRF fosters an open and family-friendly policy at all levels in the organisation and, in the present Directors of Research recruitment campaign, the ESRF is ready to discuss with the successful candidate options to support relocation to the Grenoble area.

The following link provides information on the benefits and advantages offered by the ESRF as an employer:

In order to apply to the position of Director of Research for Chemistry, Life and Medical Sciences and Soft Matter Science at the ESRF, you are invited to send by e-mail your CV and motivation letter to


ESRF imageThe ESRF is a landmark for fundamental and innovation-driven research, providing scientists from all over the world with the most brilliant X-rays to unveil the structure of materials and the mechanisms of life, down to atomic resolution. Our teams contribute to addressing the complex global challenges that our society faces.

Why work for us
For more than 30 years, the ESRF has enabled major scientific breakthroughs in the understanding of living and condensed matter. With its new Extremely Brilliant Source (EBS), the ESRF is opening new vistas for X-ray science, providing a growing community of scientists with unique facilities to tackle the complex global challenges facing our society. Scientific and technical interdisciplinarity are at the core of the ESRF’s success.

Training and development
The ESRF provides a unique and vibrant setting for early-career scientists, engineers and technical staff to train and develop their scientifc and technical abilities, thus driving the transfer of expertise to other research projects, to industry and to society at large. At the ESRF, we dedicate a significant part of our yearly budget to training our staff. Our human resources policy encourages internal mobility and many of our staff members have the opportunity to change jobs during their career.

Graduate schemes
The ESRF supports many initiatives and public events aimed at sharing knowledge of science and engaging with a diverse range of audiences, including school students and young children. At the heart of this mission, the ESRF offers different educational programmes for students of all levels.

Each year, the HERCULES European school, the Joint Universities Accelerator School, and the joint International Summer Student programme that we run with the Institut Laue-Langevin, offer introductory lectures and specialized courses, practical sessions, tutorials and visits to other European research facilities.

What we are looking for
We are looking for passionate and curious people who are eager to collaborate in an eminently international open environment.

We welcome people who wish to contribute to a better understanding of the world around us and to inspire and drive progress.

We welcome people in many different disciplines (e.g. science, engineering, management) who contributes, through their diversity (gender, nationality, language, culture) and their professional skills to push the frontiers of science.

Grenoble, France

Number of employees

Main areas of research
The ESRF has defined seven EBS Science goals, in line with UNESCO’s objectives for sustainable development and with the global challenges identifed by the EU’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme:

  • Health innovation, overcoming diseases and pandemics
  • Materials for tomorrow’s innovative and sustainable industry
  • Clean energy transition, sustainable energy storage and clean hydrogen technologies
  • Planetary research and geoscience
  • Environmental and climatic challenges
  • Bio-based economy and food security
  • Humanity and world cultural heritage

Positions recently recruited for
Scientists, postdocs, PhD students, engineers, technicians, administration, management

Desired degree disciplines/class
From apprenticeship to PhD, in various disciplines (e.g. science, engineering, management, administration)

How to apply
Apply online at For further information contact

Closing date
All year round

Tel +33 04 76 88 20 19

Company info
71 avenue des Martyrs
CS 40220
Cedex 9

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