PhD (ESR) in Atmospheric Research on the CLOUD experiment at CERN


Company Description

CERN, is the world's largest laboratory for particle physics. Around 10.000 users from more than 100 countries come to CERN for their research, probing the fundamental structure of the universe and creating one of the most stimulating and rewarding environments for researchers in Europe.  They are using the world's largest and most complex scientific instruments, they study the basic constituents of matter – fundamental particles that are made to collide together at close to the speed of light. The process gives physicists clues about how particles interact, and provides insights into the fundamental laws of nature. Find out more on

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions fund excellent research and innovation and equip researchers at all stages of their career with new knowledge and skills, through mobility across borders and exposure to different sectors and disciplines. The MSCA help build Europe’s capacity for research and innovation by investing in the long-term careers of excellent researchers.

Diversity has been an integral part of CERN's mission since its foundation and is an established value of the Organisation.


Job Description

SUMMARY: Applications are invited from highly-motivated individuals wishing to carry out a PhD thesis on atmospheric research conducted at the CLOUD facility at CERN, with special focus on ion processes and their effects on aerosols and clouds, and on advanced Linux-based data acquisition systems. The successful applicant will be supervised by Prof. Jasper Kirkby at CERN. You will be based at CERN, Geneva, and enrolled as a PhD student either at Goethe University Frankfurt or at the University of Lisbon. 

APPLICATION: The application and all supporting documents have to be submitted using CERN's e-recruitment system by the application deadline. 

POSITION: This 3-year PhD student (Early Stage Researcher, ESR-R1) position is at the European Centre for Nuclear Physics, CERN, Geneva, Switzerland. It is part of the EU Horizon Europe Marie Curie International Training Network CLOUD-DOC, which is a multi-site network of ten ESRs at ten partner institutions across Europe plus two ESRs supported by matching funds from national funding agencies. The research will be carried out at the CLOUD facility at CERN. CLOUD is investigating, under controlled atmospheric conditions in the laboratory, the formation and growth of aerosol particles, and the chemistry and microphysics of liquid and ice clouds. The central theme of CLOUD-DOC is new particle formation in cold regions of the atmosphere: the upper troposphere and polar regions. A unique focus of CLOUD is to evaluate the influence of galactic cosmic rays.

When you're part of CLOUD at CERN, you will join a research team that values science, technology, creativity and quality. We encourage new ideas from young scientists. You will work with a supportive team from 20 institutes in Europe and the United States that includes enthusiastic young scientists as well as some of the world's top experimental and theoretical researchers in aerosol nucleation and growth. You will carry out research at the cutting-edge CLOUD facility that addresses one of the most challenging problems in atmospheric science: to understand how aerosols and clouds are affecting climate change.

PROJECTS: You will focus on the role of ions in polar and upper tropospheric regions both for new particle formation and for direct effects on cloud microphysics. As well as using the CERN pion beam to simulate upper tropospheric ionisation rates, you will develop a new electrospray generator of multiply charged aerosol, CHARGE2 (CHarged AeRosol GEnerator). Together with the Neutral and Air Ion Spectrometer (NAIS) and Cluster Ion Counter (CIC), you will use CHARGE2 to investigate the effects of charge on aerosol and cloud microphysics. You will also be responsible for developing and operating the Data Acquisition (DAQ) system for the CLOUD facility and for the integration, readout and monitoring of the analysing instruments and control systems during measurement campaigns at CERN. You will be fully integrated within the overall CLOUD research programme, and be a co-author or lead author on CLOUD publications. In addition to close involvement with the CLOUD experimental facility at CERN, you will have the opportunity for secondments to partner institutes.



In order to qualify for a place on the project you will need to meet the following requirements:

At the time of recruitment:

  • be in possession of a university degree (MSc) in Physics, Engineering Physics, Chemistry or Computer Science, or a closely-related science allowing you to embark on a doctorate (candidates who are currently studying for their MSc may apply if they will finish before August 2022, however, the CLOUD-DOC contract cannot begin until the MSc is completed) .
  • be in your first 4 years of your full-time research career (after obtaining your degree (MSc))
  • must NOT hold a PhD yet
  • Advanced computational skills and good experimental skills. Linux, C++, SQL and Python programming, data acquisition systems, databases, readout of diverse instruments, data processing, and data analysis. Highly organised person with independent, self-driven work ethic.
  • Good communication skills, good team skills and good spoken and written English.
  • must not have held a contract with CERN (eg. Project Associate, USER, Student) for more than 12 months in the last 36 months and more than 50% of presence (counted from the day of recruitment, which is assumed to be September 1st 2022). 
  • Candidates of any nationality can apply to all academic positions. For industrial positions, check the individual position descriptions.



Additional Information

All ESR positions offer:

  • An employment contract for 36 months according to MSCA conditions.
  • The stipend granted by the EU is EUR 3400 brut + EUR 600 mobility + country coefficient factor if applicable. This allowance which may be increased depending on the hosting organization.
  • In accordance with the European Commission’s allowances for Doctoral Networks, a training allowance covers training activities, conference attendance, etc.

This is how you can apply:

You will need the following documents to complete your application:

  • A CV
  • Academic transcripts of BSc and MSc programmes and a copy of the last (highest) qualification
  • One letter of recommendation to give as broad as possible overview of your academic and/or professional achievements
  • In addition, contact details of 1 academic or professional reference (name, position, e-mail, telephone and indicating the relationship with the applicant)
  •  Interviews with potential candidates will be held as soon as possible after the closing date 
  • Employment contract is expected start on 01/09/2022.

Closing date: 10/07/2022