IberusTalent doctoral programme
2nd call for candidates for predoctoral fellowships

– September 2019 –

IberusTalent predoctoral fellowship programme

The IberusTalent Programme is an International Doctoral Programme promoted by the Campus of International Excellence (CIE) Campus Iberus that, will offer 36 positions to excellent pre-doctoral researchers of any nationality to develop individual research projects in the fields of Agrofood and Nutrition or Health Technologies, at one of the four Recruiting Universities (U. La Rioja, U. Pública de Navarra, U. Zaragoza, U. Lleida) during a 36 months stay. The second call for applicants will offer 19 positions.

The Programme will recruit the Early Stage Researchers (ESR) through the selection process established in line with the European Chapter for Researchers and the European Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers. The fellowships are jointly funded by the recruiting universities and the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 Marie-Slodowska-Curie Cofund Scheme (Grant Agreement 801586).

This guide aims to provide practical information to potential applicants on how to apply.

1. IberusTalent: Context

1.1 About Campus Iberus

Campus of International Excellence (CEI) Campus Iberus is the strategic alliance of four Spanish Universities located at the Ebro river valley – Universidad de la Rioja, Universidad Pública de Navarra, Universidad de Zaragoza and Universidad de Lleida.

The main objectives of CEI Campus Iberus is to achieve excellence and to become an international reference in research, education and innovation within its thematic specializations areas based on Universities’ scientific and research capacities, smart regional specialization strategies (RIS3) and international societal challenges: Agrofood and Nutrition, Energy and sustainability, Health Technologies and Social and Territorial Development.

Campus Iberus strategy is based on the aggregation of research capacities, facilitating the interaction and cooperation of researchers from its four universities. Up to date, in the Agrofood and Nutrition and Health Technologies sector, according to the RIS3 strategies of its four regions, Campus Iberus has created several interregional clusters bringing together researchers, industry, public administration and other key actors, as interregional collaborative instruments, based on scientific leadership and excellence, in order to face joint research challenges.

The IberusTalent Programme is aimed to strengthen a favorable ecosystem within these areas by attracting and retaining excellent human research resources. The IberusTalent fellows will be provided with a wide spectrum of Agrofood and Nutrition, and Health-Tech domains to carry out individual research projects within an attractive and stimulating ecosystem.

The IberusTalent Programme will bring a total of 36 pre-doctoral researchers to develop a 36 month stay to complete a doctoral programme in one of the four mentioned Universities belonging to Campus Iberus.

1.2 Research areas under IberusTalent Programme

The programme is the opportunity for ERS to develop their doctoral studies in a 36-month period contract in one of the four recruiting universities. This research training will be developed in one of the research lines open in each call for applicants under one of the two following areas: Agrofood and Nutrition and Health Technologies.

In this 2nd call, the research lines to apply are the following:

Agrofood and Nutrition Area

Ref_Agro1 : Extending the benefits of EVOOs complying with the EU Health Claim: Evaluation of their stability and shelf-life as economic value-added drivers for producers and consumers. EVOO-VALUED (EVOO VALUe-addED) U. La Rioja
Ref_Agro2: Enhancing technological and nutritional food properties using nanostructured systems rich in non-purified extracts obtained from alternative sources U. Lleida
Ref_Agro3: Fate and behaviour of nano&microplastics in environmental and food matrices U. Lleida
Ref_Agro4: Dietary condensed tannins and α-tocopherol effects on meat quality and shelf-life of lamb and pork U. Lleida
Ref_Agro5: Increasing food security through the development of draught resistant maize lines by manipulating strigolactone levels U. Lleida
Ref_Agro6: Integrated Weed Management in arable crop U. Lleida
Ref_Agro7: Improvement of properties of dietary fiber from unconventional sources through the application of innovative technologies for obtaining new food ingredients U. Lleida
Ref_Agro8: The impact of food law in the Ebro Valley Agricultural production U. Lleida
Ref_Agro9: Plant and forest pathogens in a changing world U. Lleida
Ref_Agro10: Post-disturbance regeneration of Mediterranean forests in a context of environmental uncertainty (POSTREMED) U. Lleida
Ref_Agro11: Extraction of antioxidants from food by-products for food and health applications Public U. of Navarre
Ref_Agro12: Effect of the agrarian activity in soil erosion and water quality Public U. of Navarre
Ref_Agro13: Evaluation of the effect of vineyard management practices seeking adaptation to climate change valley on the aroma and phenolic fractions (FFAs) of grapes grown in the Ebro River valley to take decisions in grape production. U. Zaragoza
Ref_Agro14: Improving sustainability in Food processing using novel technologies U. Zaragoza

Health Technologies area

Ref_Health1: Resistome, virulome and mobilome of Staphylococcus aureus: a One Health approach for Human Health applications U. La Rioja
Ref_Health2: Use of probiotics in aquaculture and evaluation of its therapeutic benefit in animal models of human disease Public U. of Navarre
Ref_Health3: Image-based analysis early biomaker for neurodegenerative diseases Public U. of Navarre
Ref_Health4: Computational Approaches to Neurodegenerative Diseases based on Integrated Information measures U. Zaragoza
Ref_Health5: Development of a simulation model for the analysis of femoral fracture healing treated with intramedullary naills U. Zaragoza

2. IberusTalent predoctoral fellowships

2.1 Positions offered in the second call

The competition of this 2nd call is open for 19 pre-doctoral contracts with the following distribution among the four recruiting universities:

AgroFood and Nutrition Health Technologies
U. La Rioja 1 1
U. Pública de Navarra 2 2
U. Zaragoza 2 2
U. Lleida 9 0

The candidates will be offered a 36-month full time pre-doctoral researcher contract.
Their main obligation will be to develop a doctoral thesis at one of the Campus Iberus Universities within one of its official doctoral programmes.

2.2 Requisites: basic eligibility criteria (who, when and how to apply)

2.2.1 General requisites: Who can apply

IberusTalent applicants must fulfil the following criteria:

Nacionality: IberusTalent is open to applicants of any nationality
Be early stage researchers (ESR):

At the date of their recruitment, being in the first 4 years (full time equivalent research experience) of their research careers

Have not been awarded a doctoral degree

Comply with the mobility rule:

Researchers may not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Spain for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the deadline of the application (30th November, 2019).

o In this regard, compulsory national service, short stays such as holidays and time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention are not taken into account.
o Spanish researchers can apply as far as they comply with the MSCA mobility rule just described.

In addition to this:

Be aged between 18 and the retirement age

Not have any illness that prevents them from carrying out their corresponding functions in a normal manner

Not have left the service of any of the public administrations for disciplinary reasons, or be forbidden from carrying out public functions

Not be disqualified in any of the ways listed in Law 53/1984, of December 26th, regarding the disqualification of personnel from the public administration.

Applicants who do not meet these criteria will not be eligible to apply for a IberusTalent Predoctoral contract.

The candidates should also fulfill the following criteria:

All candidates must be eligible to enroll in a doctoral programme at any of the four recruiting universities.

Admission to the doctoral programme must be accredited when formalizing the contract with the recruiting university.

Check the admission conditions in the following links:

• U. La Rioja
• U. Pública de Navarra
• U. Zaragoza
• U. Lleida

The selected candidates must complete their enrolment onto a doctoral programme and present the corresponding documents to the Human Resources Service of the recruiting university during the first trimester of the grant.

If the candidate does not register, s/he will be stripped of the contract and will have to return any of the money that s/he may have received. Should this happen, the next candidate on the corresponding candidates’ list will be proposed for the contract.

If, during the selection process, the selection committee believes there is sufficient reason, it may request any of the candidates to prove that they fulfil all or some of the requirements for participation in the selection process.

2.3 When to apply

The second call for applicants will follow this timeline:
Call Launch Deadline for applications Elegibility Check publication 1st Step Evaluation and ranked list Interviews Resolution Max date for being enrolled
September 9th, 2019 November 30th, 2019 December. 20th, 2019 January 31st, 2020 February 2020 March 1st, 2020 June 1st, 2020

2.4 How to apply

Applications must be submitted via the on-line application form of IberusTalent before the call deadline (November 30th, 2019 at 14:00 CET).

Step 1: Publication of the call

The selection process starts with the announcement of the call.

Online application will be open throughout the duration of the call. The application form will close on November 30th, 2019 at 14:00 CET).

Please note that the entire application process is online, and no paperwork will be allowed via other means of communication, such as mail or email.

Before starting the application process, please make sure to check all the research lines proposed. The submission process allows to save changes. To access the first time, a valid email address will be required and later, the applicants will log in with the email address and password provided. Please, take in mind that once the application is submitted, it will not be possible to change, eliminate or add any information or documentation.

Step 2: Preparing the application

The candidates must fill the on-line application form. Candidates may select up to a maximum of 5 research line projects.

Additionally, candidates should prepare the following supporting documentation, required with the application in pdf format:

1. A scanned copy of a valid passport.
2. Curriculum Vitae.
3. A scanned copy with all the academic certificates. This document should include the certificates of the higher education qualifications (previous Bachelor and official University Master degree or equivalent and a scanned copy of all higher education academic transcripts in a single file. See Section: Elegibility Criteria, point 3).
4. A motivation letter (maximum length of 3 pages in Arial 11). One per selected research line.
5. Reference letters (up to a máximum of three). Uploaded in a single pdf file.
6. Additionally, it is required an official letter from the qualification-issuing body stating that that qualification grants access to doctoral studies in your country.

All the supporting documents will be uploaded in pdf format files. The submitted files will be named as follows: “name of the applicant_type of document”, for instance: “Marie_Curie_Academic Certificates”

The application and the supporting documents must be filled in ENGLISH.

Please remember that candidates MUST comply with the elegibility conditions in order to apply.

While a certificate of English level is not mandatory, remember that the interviews will be held in English, so the candidates must have a good grasp of the English language.

NOTE: All candidates must possess the master degree or equivalent at the time of the end of this call. This document is mandatory so candidates who do not possess it or those who have not yet obtained it by the closing date of the call will be automatically excluded from the process. The deadline for this 2nd call will be November 30th, 2019 at 14:00 CET

All proposals received after this deadline will be consider not eligible!

3. Selection process


3.1 Eligibility check

All submitted applications and supporting documents will go through an eligibility check.

At the end of the eligibility check process, a provisional list of all candidates will be published on the IberusTalent webpage.

Non-eligible candidates will have 7 days from the publishing day to bring forward new documentation.

After these 7 days, a final list of eligible candidates will be published, and all of them will go through the next step: the evaluation of their application.

3.2 Evaluation criteria

The evaluation of the candidates will be done by independent Evaluation Committees, in order to avoid any conflict of interests and ensure a fair and equitable evaluation process.

The evaluation process will be implemented in 2 phases:

Step 1: Assessment of the applications, following the next criteria:

1. Academic profile: Weight – Max 50 (Threshold 35/50). Academic and/or professional curriculum in relation to the stage of the candidate’s career;

2. Motivation letter: Weight – Max 40 (Threshold 25/40). Originality, innovation and potential impact of the approach proposed for the selected research line.

3. Letters of reference: Weight – Max 10 (Threshold 6/10). Reference letters supporting the candidacy will be assessed taking into account the specificity of the content with regard to the candidate’s profile as well as the profile of the people who sign them.

At the end of this process, a provisional ranked list of all candidates will be published on the IberusTalent webpage.

Applicants will have 7 days for any complaint.

After these 7 days, a final ranking list of candidates will be published. The three best scored will go through the next step: the interview.

Step 2 – Interview: This part will be open only for the 3 best candidates of each research line.

1. Candidate’s potential (weight 40%): in order to have a general perception of the candidate’s potential, experts will pay attention to “soft” skills, ability to present easily a complex reasoning, team working; and capabilities such as independent reasoning, originality, entrepreneurship, leadership, among others.

2. Motivation and statement of purpose (weight 30%): experts will assess, originality and feasibility aspects of the approach presented in the motivation letter as well as the candidate’s capabilities with regard to the scope of the project.

3. Academic background and theoretical fundamentals (weight 30%): experts will assess the consistency of the candidate’s academic background and CV in the area chosen to carry out the PhD.

3.3 Final Selection

The final scoring for each selected candidate will be given by:

1. The evaluation report from the Evaluation Committees (Step 1): Weight – 50%.

2. The individual scoring of the interviews (step 2): Weight – 50%.

At the end of this step, a preliminary list consisting of one selected and two reserve candidates for each research line will be published on the IberusTalent webpage. The candidates will have 7 days from the date of the publication to appeal the decision. After these 7 days a final list with the selected and reserve candidates will be publish in the IberusTalent webpage.

4. Communication of results

All candidates will be informed by e-mail about the results of the selection process and the selected candidates will be invited to start enrollment phase after confirming their acceptation through a letter of acceptance.
All applicants will receive their Information Evaluation Summary Report within a month after the selection process is closed, therefore, being able to check the strengths and weaknesses of their applications.

5. Employment terms and conditions

From the day after the publication of the list of proposed candidates, these candidates will have to submit all the relevant documentation to the Human Resources Service of the recruiting university in order to start the procedure for the signature of the contract.

Fellows will be recruited under a 36 months full-time predoctoral contract by the recruiting university proposing the research line, and the employment contracts will be subjected to the Spanish law.

It is expected that all the employment contracts will start in June 2020 (note that these dates are indicative as they depend on having all the documentation of the candidates ready to make the employment contracts).

The amount of the grants for the selected candidates will consist of the following categories:

Gross salary: 24.000-26.0000 euros per year including salary, income taxes and all compulsory employees’ contributions (fiscal obligations, social security and other taxes). The employment contract in each recruiting university will apply internal rules so final retribution might slightly differ.

This salary calculation corresponds with the funding conditions of the fellowships:

Living allowance: 2.600 €/month.
Travel allowance: 80 €/month.
Family allowance, in case of family obligations: 160 €/month. This familiar status of the fellow will be determined at the date of the call deadline.

Up to 9.600 euros per year for research costs such as conferences and workshops attendance, short-stays, consumables and intellectual property costs, among others. This amount will be directly managed by the recruiting University.

6. Renunciations and substitutions

If the beneficiary wishes to renounce the contract, he/she must communicate this in writing to the Human Resources Service of the recruiting university, giving at least 30 days’ notice. This communication must state that the candidate has voluntarily renounced the contract and give the date from which he/she wishes to withdraw from it.

If a candidate renounces his/her appointment or if the contract is unsigned, the next candidate of the reserve list will be appointed.

A request to substitute a pre-doctoral researcher may be made by the supervisor in the following cases:

– renunciation
– non-renewal
– early cessation

If an applicant relinquishes or resigns from a contract before time, and if there is a waiting list, the recruiting university will be able to appoint the next candidate on the reserve list.

7. Incompatibility

The employment contracts of the predoctoral fellows are incompatible with any other grant or contract, with payments that imply a contractual link of a similar nature, or with activities that may prevent the individual from dedicating him/herself exclusively to the work that is the object of the contract.

Acceptance of the contract implies carrying out the program at the host university in a presential way.