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Supplementary Recruitment 2021/2022

Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center invites applications for astronomy and astrophysics PhD studies and related fellowship competitions

The The Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences (CAMK PAN), a leading institute of the GeoPlanet Doctoral School, offers the opportunity to carry out graduate studies leading to a PhD degree in astronomy. The PhD studies are related to subjects pursued at CAMK PAN including observational astronomy, theoretical and computational astrophysics and instrumentation. Our senior scientists participate in the H.E.S.S., CTA, VIRGO/LIGO and ATHENA satellite projects. CAMK PAN represents the Polish astronomical community in the SALT consortium which operates an 11-m optical telescope in South Africa. The Center's scientists are leading participants in the Polish scientific satellite project, BRITE, dedicated to precise stellar brightness measurements, and in the project ARAUCARIA, dedicated to the calibration of the cosmological distance scale. They also operate SOLARIS – a network of southern hemisphere small robotic telescopes committed to stellar astronomy and the search for exoplanets.

Studies  last 4 years and begin on October 1, 2021. During the 4-year period, students are required to take specific courses, lectures (including interdisciplinary lectures) and participate in seminars, as well as prepare the doctoral thesis. All seminars and lectures are in English. The regulations of the doctoral school, including the program of the Studies, are posted on the CAMK PAN web page about PhD studies.

An information about the proposed research topics and their supervisors is attached to this announcement. Candidates can apply for up to two topics but should indicate the preferred one. Before applying, candidates should contact their potential supervisors to obtain more details on the proposals.

Students in the doctoral school receive a scholarship for the period of 4 years. The minimum amount of scholarship as set in the Law on higher education and science is 2370 PLN/month, gross, before the mid-term evaluation (years 1–2) and 3650 PLN/month, gross, after the positive mid-term evaluation (years 3–4). For projects related to research grants a higher scholarship is available. Details are given in the description of each project. For projects with external funding, recruitment for the doctoral school is accompanied by a scholarship competition, according to the specific rules of the project. Separate ranking lists will be considered for each offered project.

For the application, candidates should provide their complete application documents including:

  1. The application for admission to the doctoral school together with GDPR statement (following the templates available for download in the online application form; address given below).
  2. A copy of their master’s/university and bachelor’s degree diplomas. In case master’s degree diploma is not yet available, it must be provided before the candidate is admitted to the school.
  3. A transcript of grades (Bachelor and Master Courses).
  4. A Curriculum Vitae including an education and employment records, list of publications, information on involvement in scientific activities – membership in scientific groups/societies, participation in scientific conferences, internships and training, awards and distinctions.
  5. A letter of motivation containing a short description of the candidate's interests and scientific achievements, and justification of the intention to undertake education at the Doctoral School.
  6. English language certificate(s), if available.


All documents should be in the PDF format, including scans, and should be submitted via an

on-line application form

by July 31st, 2021.

In addition, at least one recommendation letter should be sent directly by the referee to: phdstudies@camk.edu.pl, before the application deadline.

The Recruitment Board will select candidates for the interview, which will take place in August, 2021. Decisions about admission will be made at the beginning of September 2021 and all the candidates will be notified by e-mail. For additional information contact the coordinator of the doctoral school, Dr. Radosław Smolec (smolec@camk.edu.pl) or the Center’s secretary office (Ms. Katarzyna Morawska, kasia@camk.edu.pl).


Warsaw, July 1st, 2021



Attachment: Proposed topics of PhD theses:

Subject: Understanding Cepheids: physical and empirical basis for our main tool for distance determination in the Universe.

Supervisor: Dr Bogumił Pilecki (contact: pilecki@camk.edu.pl)

Classical Cepheids are successfully being used to measure distances in the Universe for over a century, but our understanding of their physical properties and evolution is still very limited. It was not a problem when measurements (distances, Hubble constant) were done with 10 %-precision, but currently precision of 1% or less is necessary to solve the most pressing problems in astrophysics (e.g., the Hubble tension).

Our knowledge of Cepheid astrophysics has started to improve only recently with the first precise measurements of the masses and radii obtained by our group from the analysis of Cepheids in eclipsing binary systems. However, only a few such measurements are available now, and there are still many open problems to be solved. We want to improve our understanding of these important stars through a detailed investigation of about 50 newly discovered Cepheids in binary systems. This will consist of measurements of their physical and atmospheric properties (some of them for the first time), and the study of their multiplicity and binary interactions. Photometric observations will be performed in our dedicated observatory located at Cerro Armazones in Chile (this observatory will be soon expanded with 4 new telescopes in the 0.8–2.5m range), while for the spectroscopic observations the best world-class telescopes (Magellan, VLT, etc.) and instruments will be utilized. For the analysis, we will use modern tools and novel methods that were never applied before. The project will be performed within the Araucaria group in a large international collaboration (Chile, France, Switzerland, Germany, USA, Austria, Italy). The group consists of about 15 astronomers in CAMK PAN and about 20 in other countries.

The successful applicant will participate in observations (mostly in Chile), data analysis, software development, and is expected to regularly present and publish the results. The student will have the possibility to work on spectroscopic analysis (including SED fitting), modeling of selected new Cepheids in binary systems, and on evolutionary models of studied Cepheids and their companions. During the project, software modification and development will be necessary, so high computer and programming skills are expected, including the knowledge of a modern programming language (e.g. Python). Creativity, experience in observations, analysis of observational data, and any of the topics related to the project, would be an asset. Generous funding for travel and an excellent working environment are secured.

Information about our related projects on Cepheids in binary systems can be found here.

Funding: Scholarship from the National Science Center, Sonata BIS project, number 2020/38/E/ST9/00486, entitled "Understanding Cepheids: physical and empirical basis for our main tool for distance determination in the Universe", led by dr. Bogumił Pilecki. Scholarship in the total amount of 5000 PLN/month, gross, is available for 4 years.




Subject: The chemical enrichment history of the metal-rich Milky Way.

Supervisor: Dr hab. Rodolfo Smiljanic (contact: rsmiljanic@camk.edu.pl)

One PhD position is offered to perform a large-scale observational study in the field of Galactic archaeology. The position is financed within the Sonata Bis project “Playing CHESS with stars” funded by the Polish National Science Center.

Understanding the processes of formation and evolution of the Milky Way is one fundamental goal of modern astrophysics. An essential part of this goal is decoding the details of how the chemical composition of the Milky Way material evolved from the primordial composition (made essentially of hydrogen and helium) to its current level of enrichment.

To contribute to this field, the proposed PhD project will focus on the determination of multi-elemental stellar chemical abundances of unprecedented quality from high-resolution spectra of the metal-rich ([Fe/H] > -0.5) part of a sample of more than 10 000 F-, G-, or K-type stars. The results will be used to study the history of chemical enrichment of the Mily Way disc, with a focus on the solar neighborhood and on a sample of open clusters.

The selected candidate will join a team that is developing a new and innovative system for the large-scale analysis of stellar spectroscopic data. The "CHEmical Survey analysis System" (CHESS) will combine machine learning ideas with the traditional radiative transfer modeling of stellar spectra. This innovative tool will enable the extraction of complete, precise, and accurate chemical abundances from large samples of stellar spectra.

We seek a resourceful, curiosity-driven candidate with strong programming skills. Fluent English is essential. Previous experience with modern statistical methods, machine learning, software engineering, or stellar astrophysics will be an asset.

Funding: This offer is accompanied by a scholarship competition from the National Science Center Sonata BIS project, number 2019/34/E/ST9/00133, entitled "Playing CHESS with stars: decoding the Galactic chemical enrichment history with stellar chemical abundances", dr hab. Rodolfo Smiljanic, PI. Scholarship in the total amount of 5000 PLN/month, gross, is available for 39 months.

Location: Warsaw




Subject: Modeling of quartz resonators in applications for autonomous sensors.

Supervisor: Prof. dr hab. Tomasz Bulik (contact: bulik@camk.edu.pl)

Co-Supervisor: Dr Mariusz Suchenek (contact: suchenek@camk.edu.pl)

Typically, quartz resonators are used as timing sources for data acquisition systems and also to mark data samples or series of data with a timestamp. Timestamp in the acquisition system allows us to compare data from the distributed sensor network and find interesting events in
data through a large number of sensors. The problem is that for a network of distributed sensors without direct connection among sensors or other synchronization setup data synchronization is very difficult. Two or more identical quartz oscillators or generators will lose synchronization after few hours of data taking. The difference after a few days in the systems counting those pulses will be very large, typically higher than 1s. The task of the PhD student is to develop a model of quartz resonator allowing to improve the stability of the frequency for the timestamp system.

A potential candidate should have a background in computer science, Master's degree in engineering, knowledge of signal processing, knowledge of optimization of electronic circuits and optimization models.

Other requirements:
- knowledge of programming (C ++, Matlab, Python),
- knowledge of designing printed circuits using Altium / Eagle / PADS / KiCad software,
- knowledge of the English language allowing you to work in an international environment.

Funding: This offer is accompanied by a scholarship competition from the Foundation for Polish Science AstroCeNT project. Scholarship in the total amount of 4500 PLN/month, gross, is available for 21 months.

Location: Warsaw






Subject: Astrophysics of stellar-merger remnants with interferometric techniques

Supervisor: Dr Tomasz Kamiński (contact: tomkam@ncac.torun.pl)

We invite applications for a PhD position in astrophysics at the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center (CAMK) of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The scholarships will be executed in Department for Astrophysics which is a CAMK branch located in the center of the beautiful old town of Toruń.

The PhD candidate will investigate physical and chemical structure of remnants of red nova eruptions. The remnants of red novae are thought to be sites of recent stellar merger events and include objects V838 Mon and V1309 Sco. The main science aims include investigating physical processes that govern the common-envelope phase, stellar-collisions, mass loss in binaries, and binary interaction in eruptive systems. The PhD candidates will work mainly with interferometric data acquired at centimeter and submillimeter wavelengths with ALMA, SMA, and JVLA. Most of the interferometric observations have been collected or are scheduled for execution in the near future. The Ph.D. candidate will be expected to develop optimal interferometric imaging techniques and investigate the physical structure of the remnants using existing tools for solving the radiative-transfer problem. The Ph.D. candidate will be also expected to secure multi-wavelength auxiliary data at other facilities, such as SOFIA and VLT. Frequent training trips to ESO (Garching & Santiago) and interferometry schools/workshops are foreseen during the course of the Ph.D.

To learn more on the science project, see here or contact dr T. Kamiński at tomkam@ncac.torun.pl.

A prior experience with interferometric data or molecular spectroscopy are welcome but are not required. Proficiency in python programming will be considered as an asset. Applicants should hold (or expect to obtain before the start of the position) a university degree (master or equivalent) in the field of astrophysics, astronomy, or physics.

Funding: This offer is accompanied by a scholarship competition from the National Science Center Sonata BIS project, number 2018/30/E/ST9/00398, entitled "Stellar mergers: causes and aftermath of stellar collisions investigated with interferometric methods" led by dr Tomasz Kamiński. Scholarship in the total amount of 4500 PLN/month, gross, is available for 3 years.

Location: Toruń