Opportunities for Doctoral Studies

The Coherent Imaging Division, an experimental research group within the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) at the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY), seeks exceptional candidates for PhD positions. The Coherent Imaging group develops innovative methods for imaging molecules and bioparticles with the use of X-ray free electron lasers (the world’s brightest X-ray sources) and synchrotron facilities. These modern light sources produce ultra-short and ultra-intense X-ray pulses, enabling our team to take stop-motion pictures of molecules and bioparticles, shedding light on their fundamental mechanisms. Students who join our group will obtain first-hand cutting-edge research experience in an international and interdisciplinary setting. In addition, graduates will have access to world-class scientific facilities and an array of professional development opportunities while working side by side with leaders in the scientific community.

The doctoral program is a collaboration with CFEL/DESY and the University of Hamburg. PhD students are to conduct original research under the guidance of Professor Henry Chapman, Coherent Imaging Division Director and Faculty member at University of Hamburg. Academic studies and skills development will be determine on a case-by-case basis depending on education and work background. Students who complete their research thesis, which normally takes 3 years, will receive a doctorate from the University of Hamburg. The degree awarded upon successful completion is a “Dr.rer.nat” which is the German equivalent to the American “PhD” title. Candidates must be proficient in the English language since all communication is done in that form.

Join us as we continue to pioneer the field of ultrafast coherent diffractive imaging!
Help unravel unknown science and contribute to a better understanding
of disease and drug design.

Research Projects

The Coherent Imaging Division at CFEL currently has the following PhD projects:

  • Time-Resolved Crystallography
  • Single Molecule Diffraction

General Requirements

We are seeking for talented and highly motivated individuals with the following background:

  • Master's (or comparable degree) in biochemistry, structural biology, molecular biology or related field with a creative and open mind
  • Experience in protein expression and molecular biology is a plus
  • Background in X-ray crystallography is advantageous
  • Candidates must also have good verbal and written English skills

Application Information

We are currently accepting applications. Our initial closing deadline is November 3, 2014. Applications will continue to be accepted and considered until the search is closed. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply as early as possible. In order to apply, please send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, university transcripts (school grades), a list of publications (if applicable), and 2 letters of recommendation to Carolin Seuring


Students pursuing doctoral studies in German public universities do not pay tuition fees for the first six semesters (3 years). Additional funding for living expenses is available.

Scholarship Opportunities
Applicants may find additional financial support by visiting the websites listed below.

DAAD Scholarship Information
Joachim Herz Stiftung Scholarship (managed by PIER Helmholtz Graduate School)
Ciência sem Fronteiras Scholarship for Brazilan Natives


The Coherent Imaging group is housed at the University of Hamburg (UHH)/Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) campus in Hamburg, Germany. For details, please refer to the visitor information of CFEL

Additional Resources

Information on the cost of living from Study In Germany website powered by DAAD.

We appreciate your interest and highly encourage candidates that meet our criteria to apply. To learn more information about the Coherent Imaging Division’s scientific work, published articles and team members please visit our website.

If you have any questions, please contact Irmtraud Kleine