Call for applications for FY 2015 Special Postdoctoral Researcher (SPDR)

RIKEN is currently accepting applications for the FY 2015 Special Postdoctoral Researcher (SPDR) Program, from young, free-thinking, independent researchers who will be a powerful force behind the drive to further basic research at RIKEN.


It is essential that we make the most of our creative and basic research potential if we are to pioneer new frontiers in science and technology. For this, our greatest hope lies in the work of talented and free-thinking young scientists.

RIKEN’s Special Postdoctoral Researcher Program provides creative young scientists with the opportunity to be involved in autonomous and independent research that is in line with RIKEN objectives and research fields.

Research fields

Physics (Physics I: particle, nuclear, astro, etc., and Physics II: condensed matter), chemistry, biology, medical science, and engineering that relate to research being conducted at RIKEN.

Number of openings

Around 40


Applicants must fulfill all three conditions given below:

  1. Must be prepared to independently and responsibly pursue a research topic.
  2. Applicants must have a PhD in the natural sciences awarded on or after April 1, 2009, or expect to be awarded a PhD by March 31, 2015.
    Note: Those with PhDs acquired prior to March 31, 2008, may also apply if there was a lapse in their research activity if subtracting this period of non-research activity will allow them an equivalency that meets the above requirement. RIKEN’s screening committee will determine whether the period of lapse is justifiable after the deadline submitting the application.
    Examples of acceptable periods of lapse: maternity leave, childcare leave, and working for a private industry in a non-research capacity.
  3. Non-Japanese applicants must have permanent residence status in Japan or must have completed a doctoral program at a Japanese graduate school (or must be preparing to complete such a program) and must have a doctoral degree (or be expecting to receive a doctoral degree).

Place of work

RIKEN host laboratory location

Duration of contract

  1. From April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016
  2. Contract can be renewed on the basis of an evaluation made prior to the conclusion of the contract, up to March 31, 2018.

Salary and benefits

  • Annual salary will be paid in the monthly amount of 487,000 yen (includes social insurance premiums and taxes). Commuting allowance (actual cost up to a maximum of 45,000 yen per month) and housing allowance (partial payment of rent) will also be paid.
  • Travel cost to take up the appointment at RIKEN will be compensated according to RIKEN’s rules and regulations.
  • Enrollment in the RIKEN Mutual Benefit Society (Kyosaikai) is compulsory. A Kyosaikai membership fee will be automatically deducted from your salary each month.
  • Days off from work include Saturdays and Sundays, national holidays, year-end/New Year holidays (Dec. 29 to Jan. 3), and RIKEN Foundation Day.
  • Other provisions as per RIKEN regulations.
  • Research budget: 1,000,000 yen per year
  • Salary above is based on FY 2013 figures.
  • SPDRs will be exempt from repayment of category 1 scholarship loans from the Japan Student Services Organization that were made before fiscal year 2003.
  • SPDRs are eligible to apply for external funding (kakenhi and the like).
  • SPDRs who take maternity leave, childcare leave, or additional leave for childcare during the contracted period may have their contract duration extended, in accordance with RIKEN regulations.

Application procedures and deadline

I. Procedures

  1. Contact the RIKEN laboratory where you would like to work

    Select a RIKEN laboratory where you would like to work from among the laboratories that have indicated their willingness to host a SPDR and contact the lab to confirm that it is ready to host from April 1, 2015. Refer to the "Laboratories with SPDR Openings (Updated 2014.4.25) (lab location)" list to find out which laboratories have openings and contact the addresses shown on the relevant web pages.

    Note: This list is updated regularly. Please take note of the date on which the list was last updated. The laboratories and other listed organizations may change even after April 30, 2014.

  2. Research topic

    After you find a laboratory that is willing to be your host, you should explain the research topic you propose to carry out at RIKEN. Discuss the topic thoroughly with the laboratory head to make sure that your final research topic proposal takes into account the work being conducted within the host laboratory.

  3. Applicant registration

    To register, access the website noted below and enter the required information.
    This website will not go up until March 17, 2014.

    (Due to system maintenance, the web site will be closed to access for about 5 minutes between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m., March 18 and April 15, 2014, Japan Time.)

    For instructions on the registration procedure, see here.


After you have registered online, download and prepare the following application documents.

II. Application forms & documents

  1. Curriculum vitae [MS-word 2003][PDF]
  2. Summary of major research achievement [MS-word 2003][PDF]
    This document is intended to present your major achievement to the members of the screening committee. The summary should be clear and concise and should be no more than 1 A4 page. For papers of which you are a co-author, the summary should explain your specific contribution. If you have several major research achievements and related papers, they should be numbered on the List of research achievements and referred to by that number in your summary.
  3. List of research achievements [MS-word 2003][PDF]
  4. Research proposal [MS-word 2003][PDF]
    Research topic, objective, description, and annual plan; no more than 5 A4 pages
  5. Reprints of no more than three representative papers, if applicable
  6. Reference from 1 or 2 individuals who are qualified to evaluate your research achievements
    Letters of reference should be sent directly by the referee. A request for a letter of reference will be automatically sent to the email addresses for references that you list when you register to apply.

    (IMPORTANT: The email requesting the letters of reference will go out at the same time as you register. The deadline for the letters of reference is the same as the application deadline. Do not wait until too late to register or your referees will not have time to prepare and send in their letters of reference, Your application cannot be accepted if the letters of reference do not arrive by the deadline. Contact your referees early and register as early as possible. You can check on the status of your letters of reference through the online application system.)

    There is no set format for the letters of reference, but they must meet the following conditions: they must be uploaded as PDF files and must be addressed to the President of RIKEN. You can scan the signature or upload a graphic version of the signature.

III. Submission procedure

After you have registered online you will automatically be sent an email with your user ID, registration number, and password. Go to the website indicated in the email and upload your application documents.
IMPORTANT: All files must first be converted to PDF format before you can upload them. Word files cannot be uploaded.

IV. Deadline

5 pm, April 30, 2014, Wednesday (Japan Time)

(IMPORTANT: This is the same deadline for uploading letters of reference.) 

Selection procedures and schedule

  Comments Notification
Stage I
(document-based selection)
When you register, be sure to give a contact email address where you can be contacted at this date. Mid July 2013
(Screening results, date of interview)
Stage II
Field Interview date Location Mid September 2014
(Screening results)
Biology & medical science 1 day between July 28 and Aug 1, 2014
(details to be announced later)
Wako City
Physics I
Physics II

NOTE: Applicants coming from overseas are eligible for the following subsidies to help cover travel costs: Please be sure to bring your receipts, travel itinerary, roundtrip air ticket stubs (boarding passes), and your bank information for deposit of the subsidy. All other costs must be covered by the applicant.

China, Korea, Taiwan: Actual cost up to 30,000 yen maximum

Other parts of Asia: Actual cost up to 50,000 yen maximum

All other countries and regions: Actual cost up to 70,000 yen maximum


Research Personnel Support Section
Global Relations and Research Coordination Office, RIKEN
2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama, 351-0198
Fax: 048-463-3687
Email: wakate [at]

Note: Please send queries by fax or email. Telephone inquiries cannot be accepted.
Information cannot be provided on the details of the screening process.

Additional information

  1. Screening of application documents and interviews for the position of Special Postdoctoral Researcher may take place in either Japanese or English.
  2. Incomplete or incorrect applications may be rejected.
  3. Submitted application documents cannot be returned or changed.
  4. Submitted documents will be handled in accordance with the RIKEN rules concerning personal information, and only used for screening applications for this position. Personal information will not be disclosed, transferred, or lent to any third party without a justifiable reason.
  5. All costs incurred in making application must be paid for by the applicant.
  6. Intellectual property issues will be handled in accordance with RIKEN regulations.
  7. Only one research topic per applicant allowed.
  8. Previous SPDRs are not eligible to apply.
  9. The provisions for this position are premised on RIKEN’s current budget and are subject to change with any change in the budget.
  10. In principle, all applicants for the FY 2015 program must have acquired their doctoral degree no later than April 1, 2015. Applicants who do not yet have their doctoral degree at the time of hire for the FY 2015 program will be expected to get their doctorate by the end of FY 2015. If they fail to do so, their contract will not be renewed for the next fiscal year.