© University of Freiburg - Sandra Meyndt
The sculpture "Transform" by artist Daniel Widrig in the FIT building, Freiburg © University of Freiburg - Sandra Meyndt

Call for Applications - Doctoral Fellowships

Hermann Staudinger and Agnes Pockels Doctoral Fellowships.

The Cluster of Excellence Living, Adaptive and Energy-autonomous Materials Systems (livMatS) is offering up to four doctoral fellowships to excellent candidates seeking to propose and pursue a PhD research topic which matches the materials science research foci of the Cluster. These fellowships serve as an essential building block of the Cluster’s early career advancement and gender equality objectives. In particular, the Agnes Pockels Fellowship is a unique diversity measure to support underrepresented female researchers in the STEM sciences.

Research program

The vision of livMatS is to combine the best of two worlds – nature and technology. livMatS develops life-like materials systems inspired by nature. The systems will adapt autonomously to their environment, harvest clean energy from it, and be insensitive to damage or recover from it. The purely technical, but behaviorally quasi-living materials systems that are being developed in livMatS meet people's demands for future-oriented environmental and energy technologies. Research into the acceptance and social relevance of these autonomous systems and their sustainability are thus important components of development.

livMatS is characterized by highly interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers from a broad range of fields including engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, psychology, the humanities, and sustainability sciences. Research is carried out in four interlinking research areas which target Concepts for Energy Autonomy and Integration, Concepts for Adaptive and Active Materials Systems, Concepts for the Longevity of Systems Functions, and Societal Challenges – Sustainability Assessment and Investigation of Psychological, Philosophical, and Ethical Implications of Living Materials Systems. Research in the different research areas is being integrated in a fifth research area which is developing technology demonstrators.

Application criteria

The Cluster invites applications from highly motivated candidates in the fields specified above who are committed to interdisciplinary research in a cutting-edge environment. Key selection criteria include the applicants’ thematic fit to the livMatS research foci, their academic performance and references, and the quality and feasibility of their project pitch.

In particular, your project pitch (circa 750 words) should include a working title, your research question(s), references to key papers, your idea and its contribution to cluster's research program. Your letter of intent (circa 500-750 words) should outline your academic background and motivation to pursue a PhD.

Applicants should have a Master’s degree in engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, psychology, or the humanities. We expect enthusiasm, a strong motivation to work in an interdisciplinary team, and good self-organization. Fluency in English is mandatory. Successful candidates are expected to begin their position in early 2023,

What we offer

You will have access to university research infrastructure, including modern laboratory space and state-of-the-art facilities at the Freiburg Center for Interactive Materials and Bioinspired Technologies (FIT). In addition, you will join an interdisciplinary group of early career and senior scientists and have access to career advancement training and international networking opportunities within our cluster at the University of Freiburg. Doctoral positions at livMatS are part-time positions (65%) and are limited to 36 months. The salary is determined in accordance with TV-L E 13.

Application process

It will be carried out in two stages. Please read the instructions below before submitting an application:

  • Select the fellowship you are applying for. The Agnes Pockels fellowship is exclusively for female applicants.
  • Choose up to two Research Areas listed in menu "Intended Research Area". Information on Research Areas in livMatS can be found HERE.
  • Choose two potential PhD supervisors from the 33 Principal Investigators listed in menu "Intended Supervisors". Information on the Principal Investigators in livMatS can be found HERE.
  • Upload your Letter of Intent, CV, Project Pitch, and Master's thesis summary as ONE PDF file. Please mind the maximum file size of 5MB.
  • Upload certified copies of your Bachelors and Masters degrees with transcripts as ONE PDF file. Please mind the maximum file size of 10 MB
  • Once you submit your application, it cannot be edited in the system. Prepare your documents carefully in advance.


The application deadline for the first stage is 15 October 2022.

Candidates shortlisted at the conclusion of the first stage will receive an invitation to fine tune and present an extended project proposal, which will be presented approximately 4 weeks later for the selection committee.


If you have questions about the fellowships or application process, send an email to positions@livmats.uni-freiburg.de.

livMatS is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) under Germany’s Excellence Strategy – EXC-2193 – 390951807.