The doctoral fellowship programme INPhINIT ”la Caixa” is devoted to attracting talented Early-Stage Researchers—of any nationality—who wish to pursue doctoral studies in Spanish or Portuguese territory. Sponsored by ”la Caixa” Foundation, it is aimed at supporting the best scientific talent and fostering innovative and high-quality research in Spain and Portugal by recruiting outstanding international students and offering them an attractive and competitive environment for conducting research of excellence.
The Institute of Cosmos Sciences of the University of Barcelona is a research centre accredited with the Spanish Seal of Excellence María de Maeztu in 2020, the perfect place to carry out your PhD project through an INPhINIT Incoming fellowship.
What is a quantum black hole and what are the microscopic structures behind its thermodynamic properties? It would seem that a full-fledged fundamental theory of gravity (such as string theory) is necessary to answer these questions. However, surprising dramatic progress has recently been made by realizing that a simpler semiclassical tool—the gravitational path integral (GPI)—contains hitherto unexpected information about:
- Random statistics of black hole microstates, very late time thermalization, and the emergence of geometry out of quantum entanglement.
- Quantum dynamics of low-temperature near-extremal black holes.
This is well beyond what seemed within the scope of the GPI. However, a bold exploration of contributions from non-trivial topologies has opened new opportunities and raises deep questions about the nature of the fundamental degrees of freedom of spacetime. Furthermore, point (ii) brings up the exciting realization that controllable quantum gravity can be important in arbitrarily large black holes.
We propose investigations along the two lines above:
- Study of geometric microstates [1,2] for black holes with D1-D5-P charges and comparison with the ‘fuzzball’ program . Microstates of extremal D1-D5-P black holes with an ergoregion. Spontaneous quantum superradiance.
- Quantum throats of hyperbolic  and unstable rotating black holes in four and higher dimensions. Dynamics of quantum regions of spacetime coupled to larger ambient semiclassical geometry.
 V.Balasubramanian, A.Lawrence, J.M.Magán, M.Sasieta, “Microscopic origin of the entropy of black holes in general relativity,” arXiv:2212.02447.
 A.Climent, R.Emparan, J.M.Magán, M.Sasieta, A. Vilar-López, “Universal black hole microstates,” to appear.
 I.Bena, E.J.Martinec, S.D.Mathur, N.P.Warner, “Fuzzballs and Microstate Geometries: Black-Hole Structure in String Theory,” arXiv:2204.13113.
 R.Emparan, J.M.Magán, “Tearing down spacetime through quantum disentanglement,” to appear.
Job position description:
The PhD student will work on research lines at the cutting edge of quantum gravity and black hole theory, and learn advanced concepts and techniques of wide relevance and applicability in modern theoretical physics:
advanced methods in General Relativity and the causal structure of black holes
instantons and path integral techniques
Euclidean formulation of quantum gravity and topology (wormholes)
gravitational perturbation theory
random matrix theory and quantum statistical mechanics of chaotic systems
Since this is already a rather heavy load for a graduate student, we plan that the exposure to the more advanced methods of string theory and D-branes will proceed gradually and only when they are required for the development of specific aspects of the project. We do not envisage a full immersion into string theory, but only a guided introduction to the string theory description of black holes. Similarly, supersymmetry and supergravity will be dealt with in a minimalistic approach.
Independence and initiative of the student to delve into these or other advanced topics will be encouraged.
Collaboration with junior researchers—postdocs and other PhD students in our group—will be facilitated. Interaction with researchers from other institutions (typically through visits to collaborators or close contacts of the supervisor), possibly leading to collaborations, will also be promoted, as well as dissemination of research in conferences and workshops.
The student will benefit from the vibrant, highly interactive and international environment of the Gravitation, Strings and Cosmology Group of ICCUB, as well as from the high-profile and diverse habitat that the ICCUB provides.
Diversity, equity and inclusiveness in our research groups are among the main concerns of the ICCUB in general, and the Group Leader in particular.
Research group on quantum field theory and string theory
ICCUB research group on gravitation and cosmology
The ”la Caixa” Foundation will sign an agreement with the host institution, which will receive the fellowship payments directly:
- An annual payment of €35,800 to the institution to cover the Fellow’s contract, who will receive a minimum annual gross salary of €25.000. This amount might vary if there are modifications in the legal framework.
- €3,500 per year, as an additional amount for conferences, courses, research stays, consumables, equipment, charges for the use of intellectual property, etc.
- The tuition fees to the official doctoral programme
In addition to financial support, the fellowship includes a training programme on transversal skills, which has been specially designed by leading international institutions in the sector.
For more information on the employment conditions, please refer to this document.
Working at the Institute of Cosmos Sciences
The Institute of Cosmos Sciences is a research institute of the University of Barcelona. It is an interdisciplinary centre dedicated to fundamental research in the fields of cosmology, astrophysics, and particle physics. In addition, the institute has a strong technology program through its participation in international collaborations in observational astronomy and experimental particle physics.
Moreover, the ICCUB participates in many key international scientific consortia and projects, such as the Large Hadron Collider, the Gaia astrometric space mission, the MAGIC / CTA high-energy astrophysics telescopes, and the Virgo gravitational wave detector, among others. Additional information about the Institute and the University of Barcelona can be found here.
You will be encouraged to contribute and interact with other researchers in the vibrant and international research environment as well as to participate in our outreach initiatives, more information at serviAstro and serviParticules.
As part of the University of Barcelona, the ICCUB is a recipient of the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research (HRS4R) Award, which recognises, among other achievements, respect for equal opportunities and the capacity to attract talent in a positive working environment that promotes the pursuit of successful research careers. The ICCUB respects the principles of open, transparent, merit-based selection. We strongly encourage women and underrepresented minorities in physical sciences to apply. For additional information please see the Diversity, equity and inclusion Commission.
The ICCUB is located in Barcelona, considered the 8th World's Best Cities 2021: one with near-perfect weather year-round, miles and miles of beaches, iconic parks, striking architecture and colourful neighbourhoods that march to their own beat—artistic, sophisticated, bohemian. Moreover, it is a pole of attraction for the technology sector, a top choice to establish a company in this sector, and it hosts some of the world's major technological events, such as the Mobile World Congress and the Smart City Expo. In addition, Barcelona and its metropolitan area is a leading destination on the map of global technological ecosystems and has infrastructures such as science parks, universities and the 22@ district.
In order to be accepted, candidates must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Experience: candidates must not have carried out more than four years of research activity before the closing date of the call.
- Studies pursued: Applicants must hold a higher education degree that makes them eligible to enroll in a doctoral programme before starting at their host institutions.
The host university will verify, upon starting the admission process to the doctoral programme, that the studies taken up by the selected candidates make them eligible to enroll in an official doctoral programme in accordance with the regulations in force in Spain or Portugal. Should they be found not eligible after verification, the fellowship will be withdrawn.
Under no circumstances may candidates have previously enrolled in the same doctoral studies for which they are applying for the fellowship.
- Geographic mobility: Candidates must not have resided or have carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Spain for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the call deadline. Short stays, such as holidays, done in a country other than their country of usual residence (where they carried out their main activity), will be considered as time spent in their country of usual residence.
- Level of English: Candidates must have a demonstrable level of English (B2 or higher).
For more information on the candidates requirements, please refer to this document.
All applications must be submitted online through the following link in English. For more information on the application procedure, please refer to this document.
Deadline: Please submit your applications by January 24th 2024 at 2 pm.
The process is comprised of three phases:
- Eligibility screening: all applications received are reviewed to check the accomplishment of the eligibility criteria published in the rules for participation
- Remote evaluation (shortlisting): an evaluation panel will review the applications and those that receive the highest scores will pass to the next stage.
- Personal interviews: shortlisted candidates are invited to a remotely interview before a multidisciplinary committee on May 27, 28 and 29 2024.
The rating criteria that govern the selection process can be found in the Selection process guidelines section of the ”la Caixa” Fellowship Programme website.
For more information on the selection process, please refer to this document.
Funding: This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No713673.
The co-funded part of the programme runs from 01/10/2016 to 30/09/2021 and finances the researchers recruited under Call 2017 and 2018.