Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ten PhD positions at the Gran Sasso Science Institute

The Gran Sasso Science Institute (GSSI), founded in 2012 in L’Aquila (Italy) as Center for Advanced Studies of the National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) and then established in March 2016 as a School of Advanced Studies providing post-graduate education, offers 40 PhD fellowships for the academic year 2017/18.
Amng others, the GSSI invites applications for 10 fellowships in  “Computer Science”, with emphasis on algorithmics, formal methods for concurrent systems, and software engineering. The official language for all PhD courses is English.

The fellowships are awarded for three years and their yearly amount is € 16,159.91 gross. All PhD students have free accommodation at the GSSI facilities and use of the canteen.

The application must be submitted through the online form available at by 31st May 2017 at 18.00 (Italian time zone).

For more information, please consult the Call for Applications at or write an email to or call +39 0862 4280262.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Computer Science at Reykjavik University looks for a new dean

I hope that readers of this blog will consider  applying for this position and join the School of Computer Science at Reykjavik University. Come and help us shape the future of CS research and teaching in Iceland!

Reykjavik University seeks an ambitious leader to carry out the development of a growing School of Computer Science. The dean is responsible for administrative affairs as well as for leading the faculty's academic agenda. The dean reports to the Rector of Reykjavik University and is a member of the university's executive committee.

We seek candidates that have:
  • Strong strategic vision and the ability to shape and lead a team of faculty members and staff
  • Doctorate in computer science or related subjects
  • Academic teaching and research experience
  • Management, operations and leadership experience
  • Experience from industry or collaborations with industry
  • International experience

Reykjavik University's School of Computer Science provides education and research in computer science, software engineering and related subjects. The School offers BSc, MSc and PhD degrees. External accreditation committee for doctorate studies assessed the school to be the strongest in Iceland in its field and one conducting top-level international research ( The school has around 850 enrolled students and nearly 30 faculty and staff members.

For further information, please contact Ari Kristinn Jónsson, Rector ( and Sigríður Elín Guðlaugsdóttir, Executive Director of Human Resources ( tel: +354-599-6200.
Applications should be submitted before March 15th, 2017, through our applications website:

The role of Reykjavik University is to create and disseminate knowledge to enhance the competitiveness and quality of life for individuals and society, guided by good ethics, sustainability and responsibility.

There are four schools within the university; School of Business, School of Computer Science, School of Law and School of Science and Engineering. Education and research at RU are based on strong ties with industry and society. We emphasize interdisciplinary collaboration, international relations and entrepreneurship. Reykjavik University currently has around 3600 students and 240 employees.

Friday, February 10, 2017

An Interview with Thomas Henzinger, President of IST Austria

The Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTAustria) is a young international institute dedicated to basic research and graduate education in the natural and mathematical sciences, located in Klosterneuburg on the outskirts of Vienna. Our colleague Thomas Henzinger has been the president of the institute since its birth, and I thought that it might be interesting for the readers of the Bulletin of the EATCS and of this blog to hear about the development of IST Austria and his opinions on how to create an excellent research institution.

I interviewed Thomas Henzinger (abbreviated to TH in what follows) via email and present his answers to my questions in what follows. 

LA: Could you briefly introduce IST Austria, its aims and its current state of development? 

TH: The Institute of Science and Technology (IST) Austria was founded in 2006 with the goal to build in Austria a world-class institution for basic research and graduate education in science. Currently we are half-way towards our goal of 90 research groups in biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, and computer science.

LA: As far as I know, IST Austria only started its operations in 2009. It already underwent a successful,  international evaluation in 2011 and has grown remarkably since then. In your opinion, which strategic decisions have been crucial in making IST Austria a high-quality research institute in such a short period of time and in attracting top-class scientists at various stages of their careers to it?

TH: The most important decision of the Austrian government was to start IST Austria from scratch, independent of any existing institution, and to give the Institute maximal freedom in designing itself.  Whenever we take a design decision at IST Austria, we consider primarily one criterion: how can we best compete for the most promising young faculty and the most talented PhD students in the world?  Three of our most important design decisions, all guided by this criterion, were: (1) We hire all young faculty on a tenure track, giving them both independence and the opportunity to be promoted to a full professorship, based solely on performance. (2) We never assign open faculty slots to research topics or scientific disciplines, but always try to offer our positions to the most promising candidates we see, independent of their field. (3) All PhD students are admitted centrally and must complete a multidisciplinary curriculum and rotation projects with several professors before they embark on their thesis research.

LA: So far, which aspects of the development of IST Austria are you most proud of?  How would you like to see IST Austria grow in the near future? Do you think that the institute  will expand its research in computer science and, if so, how?

TH:  I am proudest of the fact that 30 of our 45 professors are funded by the European Research Council.  I believe that relative to our size, this makes us the most successful institution in Europe. Among our 45 current professors, there are 8 computer scientists. We hope to double both numbers over the next  10 years.

LA: I recently watched the video of the panel discussion "IST Austria: On the Way to the Top: What Makes a Research Institution Excellent?'', which you chaired, on YouTube. It was truly inspirational. However, since you were running short of time, you did not get a chance to express your views on the topic and I, for one, would be very interested in hearing them. So, in your opinion, what makes a research institution excellent? Would the advice you would give to a computer science department in a European university that strives for excellence be any different?

TH:  Most science administrators agree that the key to excellence is the principle "hire the best scientists and leave them alone." It is easy to advocate this principle, but it is difficult to implement it. The temptation to think strategically top-down -to focus on research areas when hiring professors, on research projects when hiring students, on industrial and societal needs when asking for more funds- is very hard to resist.  But giving in to that temptation usually means leaving the quickest path to scientific excellence.

LA: To your mind, what is the role of PhD education in achieving research excellence? Would you have any advice to share with us on how to run an international PhD granting institution in Europe that is capable of attracting very strong students? 

TH: Attracting top PhD students from all over the world is critical because top students attract top professors. In fact, in my experience it is more difficult to attract top students: they are often more "brand driven" than professors, and it takes a long time for an institution to build up a world-wide reputation that trickles down to undergraduates looking for PhD programs. I wish I had a quick solution for this problem.

LA: You have been the President of IST Austria from its inception. This must be more than a full-time job. However, at the same time, you have managed to remain very active in research, pursuing new avenues and maintaining a research group. How did you do so? Is there any "secret" you'd like to share with us?

TH:  It is difficult to "context switch" between administrative and scientific problems. But the opportunity to talk with my students and postdocs almost on a daily basis is what keeps me sane. It is important also because it allows me to see the Institute and its administration from the "other" side, and because it  gives me greater credibility when trying to recruit faculty.