The Institute of Cosmos Sciences at the University of Barcelona (ICCUB) invites applications for PhD positions. 

The successful candidates will work with Profs Jorge Casalderrey-Solana, Raul Jimenez, David Mateos and other members of the ICCUB on applications of holography to cosmology and astrophysics, with a focus on gravitational waves. Appointments are likely to begin in the Summer or Fall of 2023.

The official call is expected to open soon and we are seeking to make a preselection of potential candidates. Thus, interested candidates should apply here as soon as possible. 

In parallel, we also encourage candidates to apply independently to the PhD INPhINIT fellowships funded by “La Caixa”. In this case the selection will be done directly by “La Caixa”, but the successful candidates will work at the ICCUB in the same conditions as above. More information about the INPhINIT fellowships can be found below:


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:

Holography (a.k.a. AdS/CFT or gauge/gravity correspondence) relates the quantum-mechanical dynamics of a strongly coupled, four-dimensional gauge theory to that of classical gravity in a five-dimensional anti de Sitter (AdS) spacetime. The power of this correspondence is that it allows the use of classical gravity in 5D to tackle otherwise intractable problems on the gauge theory side.


In many applications of holography the metric where the gauge theory lives is taken to be non-dynamical. For example, this metric is flat in the holographic description of the quark-gluon plasma.


This framework is insufficient if the 4D metric is dynamical. This limits potential applications of holography to phase transitions in the early Universe, neutron star mergers, cosmological singularities, etc.


Following our pioneering work [1], we will extend the holographic framework to describe a strongly interacting 4D gauge theory coupled to 4D dynamical gravity. We will then apply it to the study of the problems mentioned above. A primary outcome will be the spectrum of gravitational waves (GW) produced in these processes, which could be experimentally measured at future GW detectors.


The student will join the group led by Profs Casalderrey and Mateos, which is part of the Institute of Cosmos Sciences at the University of Barcelona (ICCUB). We are world leaders in applications of holography and have co-authored a standard reference in the field [2]. Mateos managed a 1.4M€ European ERC grant in 2012-2017 and is now the PI of one of the six priority lines of the ICCUB’s “Maria de Maeztu” distinction for units of excellence. In the last 10 years we have trained 17 students and postdocs, many of whom now hold postdoctoral or faculty positions.


[1] D. Mateos, J. Casalderrey et al, ``Holographic Evolution with Dynamical Boundary Gravity,'' JHEP 03 (2022), 137.

[2] Casalderrey, D. Mateos et al, “Gauge/String Duality, Hot QCD, and Heavy Ion Collisions”, Cambridge University Press (2014).


Job position description

The successful candidate will be a PhD student at the ICCUB. Our institute is uniquely positioned worldwide for this research because of our expertise in all the fields involved. The work will be highly interdisciplinary, ranging from theoretical analysis based on holography to running numerical relativity codes on high-performance supercomputers. 


The student will interact with Profs Casalderrey and Mateos on an almost-daily basis. In addition, as part of his training, he/she will attend some of the many activities at the ICCUB, including:

• Weekly seminars by visiting external researchers.

• Weekly seminars by the group's researchers.

• Colloquia at the Institute of Cosmos Sciences (ICCUB).

• Weekly Journal Clubs on “Gravity and Strings” and on “Cosmology”.


All these activities, especially the last one, have a high formative value. In addition, the student will attend advanced lessons and courses taught at the ICCUB, as long as these courses are relevant to the subject of the project. In particular, courses are planned on holography and probably on superstrings and supersymmetry, taught both by members of the group and by internationally recognized expert visitors.


More information:

Prof. David Mateos and Jorge Casalderrey-Solana 

Research product / Research group 

Website of the “Quantum Field Theory and String Theory” research area at the ICCUB


Website of the “Gravitation and Cosmology” research area at the ICCUB

Website of the “Particle Physics Phenomenology” research area at the ICCUB

Website of the “Gravitational Waves” research area at the ICCUB

David Mateos’ website




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.