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.


Research Project:

The Gaia mission of ESA is providing extensive catalogues with an unprecedented amount of data of extremely high precision. The recent third release (DR3), with about 1.8 billion stars, includes more radial velocities and astrophysical parameters, constituting the ideal dataset to study the structure and dynamics of the Milky Way (MW).


The Gaia data has been revolutionary in several aspects about our Galaxy. Firstly, Gaia has unveiled a large list of new stellar clusters and has characterized better the known ones. These stellar aggregates trace the young and intermediate-age component of the Galaxy. Secondly, the measurements of the phase space coordinates of many stars in the MW disc probe the forces acting on the Galaxy. Phase space substructures discovered by Gaia show that the MW is still recovering from past perturbations probably caused by the approaches of the Sagittarius dwarf Galaxy, while it may also be affected by the forces from the central bar and the spiral arms.


Disentangling the effects of these processes (internal and external) is crucial to uncover the exact history and evolution of the MW. What is the role of each of these mechanisms? Is one of them dominating? Where and in which periods of the MW life? Are these processes interfering with each other? The objective of the project is to establish the impact of the different mechanisms that act on the Galaxy disc including the bar, the spiral arms and the interaction with the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy.


The GaiaUB team (4 staff, 8 postdocs, 4 PhD, and 8 engineers) has a leading role in Gaia at the highest technological, scientific and management levels, as well as in the scientific and technical building of WEAVE. On the technical side, the Gaia group is expert on scientific HPC, Big data, massive catalogue statistics and analysis, and performs research in Galactic fields including dynamics, open clusters and the Large Magellanic Clouds. We have weekly science group meetings and a weekly journal club.


Job position description

In addition to Gaia data from DR3 and DR4 (2025-2026), data from the large spectroscopic surveys from the ground will soon provide kinematic and chemical data for stars that are too faint for Gaia to measure. We aim to explore these new data (Gaia, WEAVE@WHT, 4MOST@VISTA) to study the evolution of our Galaxy.


The student will analyze these new catalogues that will cover regions of the Galaxy never explored before with these large amounts of data and such precision (e.g., end of the bar, outermost parts of the disc, where different processes might be dominating).  The student will also explore the whole set of stellar clusters. Most of the clusters have determined ages and can help to date the different effects occurring to the MW disc. In addition, the clusters allow the understanding of the mechanisms of their formation and disruption, and their contribution to the disc of the MW and its chemo-dynamical history.


The PhD will be carried out with the Gaia group at the ICCUB. Our group has long experience in the design, development, operation, archive and data exploitation of the mission. The student will also benefit from the interaction with the software engineering group at the ICCUB Technological Unit in order to develop and utilize Big Data and Data Mining tools to take full advantage of the amount and unique quality of the Gaia data; for this purpose, we will develop data mining algorithms and probabilistic (hierarchical Bayesian) models. The work in the PhD will combine the advanced data analysis and the scientific exploitation of the Gaia data and related surveys. The student will be formed in Data Science and data modelling.


The PhD student will create strong collaborations by being integrated in the international network of the team (e.g., DPAC consortium with 450 scientist and engineers, WEAVE science team, MW-Gaia COST and REG networks).


More information:

Group leader 

Prof. Xavier Luri Carrascoso

Research product / Research group 

Web page of the Gaia group at the ICCUB

X. Luri page at Gaia site

Gaia group site

Relevant paper

Relevant paper





Employment conditions 

The maximum total payment amount will be €122,592, as broken down below: 

- An annual payment of €35,800 to the institution to cover the Fellow’s contract, who will receive a gross annual income around €28.000. 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 ”la Caixa” Foundation will award a prize of €7,500 (subject to taxes), which will be paid to the  fellows who deposit their thesis within 6 months after the third year of their fellowship has ended.

  • 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: At the call deadline, applicants must be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and not yet have been awarded a doctoral degree or be in a position to apply for one. 
  • 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.


Application Procedure

All applications must be submitted online through the following link in English. For more information on the application procedure, please refer to this document.

Inquiries about the application submission can be directed to


Deadline: Please submit your applications by January 25th 2023 at 2pm. 


Selection process:

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 23, 35 and 25 2023.

The rating criteria that govern the selection process can be found in the Evaluation of applications 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.