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Hector Pioneer Fellowship

Fellowship funded by the Hector Stiftung II

In collaboration with the Hector Stiftung II,  the Zukunftskolleg offers the Hector Pioneer Fellowship that is dedicated to extraordinary postdoctoral researchers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields. The candidates’ research ideally links up to the university's focus areas: "Chemical Biology and Ecology", "Molecular Nanotechnology and Materials Science", and "Decision Sciences" amongst others. Interdisciplinary and innovative projects are specifically welcome.

5-year Hector Fellowships are comparable to Zukunftskolleg Research Fellowships. They promote researchers with significant work experience at the postdoctoral level aiming for a career in academia. Hector Fellows build their own academic identity by leading an independent research group at the University of Konstanz.

The Zukunftskolleg provides them with a professional infrastructure and an appropriate workplace for conducting research. Each fellow receives an annual research allowance, e.g. for funding research assistants or equipment. Furthermore, the Zukunftskolleg gives financial support for start-up, consumerables and travel costs, and assists in developing academic skills.

Each fellow is a member of both a university department and the Zukunftskolleg. Fellows have a work contract with the University of Konstanz and are expected to have their place of residence in Konstanz or nearby. They participate actively in the regular weekly meetings (Jour Fixe) of the Zukunftskolleg and have an opportunity to teach.

Support Measures

Hector Pioneer Fellows profit from all support measures available at the Zukunftskolleg:

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible, candidates must fulfill all eligibility criteria:

  • applicants must have a doctoral degree and have acquired five years of postdoctoral research experience at most
  • applicants must not hold a permanent position in academia, a professorship, or have a habilitation or equivalent (venia legendi)
  • applicants must propose a research project that ties in with one of the STEM disciplines and ideally with one of the academic focus areas of the University of Konstanz
  • applicants must already have secured a research group grant in a competitive process of at least 50,000 € or an equivalent amount of funding to be used for their research while at the Zukunftskolleg. Applicants with pending grant applications are eligible to apply for a fellowship. A fellowship offer would be contingent upon the successful attainment of the required third-party funding
  • applicants with their own position funded by another program, which can be transferred to Konstanz, are also eligible.

If you have any questions concerning the eligibility criteria, please check our FAQs.


Currently no call for applications - calls for applications are opened on a regular basis. Application in between calls is not accepted. If you would like to be notified about new calls for applications, please sign up for our newsletter.

Applications should be submitted via our online application portal .

The following documents are required to submit the application:

  • a complete application form
  • motivation letter (1 page max)
  • project outline (5 pages max)
  • curriculum vitae
  • copies of all relevant degree certificates
  • writing sample (30 pages max)
  • two letters of reference

Please find detailed information on the application process and FAQ here.

Selection Process

The applications are selected in a multi stage process

  1. Eligibility check and pre-selection
  2. International external peer-review
  3. Interdisciplinary Workshop on Future Research Directions at the University of Konstanz

Since it is the community of fellows that makes up the Zukunftskolleg, applicants are assessed not only for their academic achievements, but also for their personal, social and method-related abilities. The selection of fellows is organized as a highly competitive process involving intra-disciplinary as well as interdisciplinary evaluation. Criteria include diverse knowledge and qualifications such as leadership and teamwork skills, teaching or management experience, mobility and independence.

The candidates’ achievements should be in line with their “academic age”, so that they have a realistic prospect of being appointed professors.

1. Eligibility check and formal pre-selection

In order to be eligible for application, candidates must fulfill all of the eligibility criteria listed above. Applications that do not pass the eligibility check will not be further considered. Subsequently, a first evaluation takes the quality of the proposal, the applicant's track record, and the suitability of the research proposal to the University of Konstanz into consideration.

Applicants are informed whether they have passed the eligibility check and whether their applications are forwarded for peer review.

2. International external peer-review

In the second stage, the best applications are forwarded to external experts who evaluate the research project and CV. Peer reviewers are distinguished experts in the same area of research as the proposals they assess, thus guaranteeing a high level of competence in the evaluation process. Peer reviewers are asked to comment on the quality of the research proposal, the long-term potential of the project, and academic performance, skills and competence relevant to an interdisciplinary setting. All candidates will receive short synopses of the anonymous reviewers’ reports.

At this stage, candidates will be asked to submit a financial plan for the research project. This plan should take into account the research costs that the project will incur and the necessary infrastructure required. Please keep in mind that the Zukunftskolleg is not able to pay salaries for personnel such as PhD students or postdoctoral researchers that would work in the research group. Estimates of research and infrastructure costs will provide the basis of the start-up funding if a fellowship is offered. For potential equipment costs, for example, candidates should be prepared to provide official cost estimates from potential suppliers.

3. Interdisciplinary Workshop on Future Research Directions and decision

In the next step, the recruitment committee will meet to discuss all peer-reviewed applications. Please note that the recruitment committee has access to all applications, even to those that have not passed the eligibility check. The candidates with the most promising research proposals (approximately twice the number of advertised positions) are invited to the Workshop on Future Research Directions at the University of Konstanz.

The purpose of the workshop is to give the interdisciplinary recruitment committee an opportunity to evaluate candidates in person. At this workshop, applicants present their proposed projects to the recruitment committee and the other applicants, and discuss their own and other applicants’ projects. They subsequently are further evaluated in a personal interview.

The committee evaluates the personal aptitude of the candidates with regard to leadership and teamwork skills, their ability to present their projects and receive criticism, as well as their ability and willingness to engage in interdisciplinary exchange. Candidates are informed of the final decision and their own strengths and weaknesses shortly after the workshop.

Successful applicants are offered a Hector Pioneer Fellowship at the Zukunftskolleg. The members of the recruitment committee draw up a waiting list in case selected candidates reject the offer. No redress procedure is provided, but unsuccessful candidates are eligible to resubmit a revised proposal in the next selection round. Similarly, candidates who have evidence that there has been a shortcoming in the way their proposal was evaluated may appeal their rejection and resubmit their application, together with a justification for the appeal, for re-evaluation in the next selection round.

Follow-up Prospects

Hector Pioneer Fellowships are comparable to assistant professorships or junior professorships without tenure in Germany. During their Hector Pioneer Fellowships, fellows can qualify for permanent positions as full professors by pursuing frontier research and exhibiting all skills necessary for a university career. Fellows are invited to apply for faculty positions at the University of Konstanz. 

Have a look at the career pathways of former fellows here.