The Origins Center is a recent, multidisciplinary and multi-institute initiative of a large number of top tier scientists in the Netherlands, who responded to questions submitted by the public on fundamentals of life in the universe in the context of the Dutch National Science Agenda. Recently we defined the outlines of five three-year pathfinder projects that together should lay the groundwork for a future, far larger research programme which aims at game-changing understanding of the origin of life and of life-bearing planets, predicting evolution, building and steering life from molecule to biosphere, finding extra-terrestrial life and of the mathematical concepts needed for bridging large spatial, temporal and organisatorial scale differences. The Center is coordinated by the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. Scientists affiliated with at least 17 Dutch universities and research institutes participate in its research. Recently the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO granted ‘Startimpuls’ (Initial Boost) funding to the Origins Center.

For the pathfinder projects we are now recruiting six postdoctoral research fellows with a strong background in astronomy, biophysics, chemistry, microbiology, ecology, evolutionary biology, mathematics, computational science, molecular biosciences or planetary and geosciences, and with the ability to perform innovative and multidisciplinary research. The recruited fellows will, jointly with several research groups in the Netherlands, further define and execute the projects. They will thereby be centrally involved in advanced and multidisciplinary research of great scientific and public interest.

Fellowships are available within each of the following five projects:

217354 Developing, testing and operating the Origins Simulator
217355 Identifying factors enabling predictability of evolution
217356 Building and directing life
217357 Modelling planet earth as an exoplanet
217358 Mathematically understanding downward causation

Each fellow will be hosted by a research group involved in the Origins Center initiative and be employed by the host’s university or research institute, and will cooperate with at least one other research group in another field of expertise and preferably in another university or research institute. The fellow’s tasks will include:

- further conceptualising, planning, and executing a pathfinder project
- reaching out to and collaborating with research groups in the Netherlands and abroad
- forging linkages between the five pathfinder projects and with the relevant research community at large
- contributing to a programme of public outreach.

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