Call for applications for the position of Special Postdoctoral Researcher (SPDR) for FY 2016

The call for FY2016 has been closed.

RIKEN is currently accepting applications for the FY 2016 Special Postdoctoral Researcher (SPDR) Program, from young, creative, independent researchers who will be a powerful force in furthering RIKEN’s research activities.

About new SPDR program

The Foreign Postdoctoral Researcher (FPR) program launched in 2007 has provided talented young foreign scientists with the same kind of opportunities as the Special Postdoctoral Researcher (SPDR) program which was primarily targeted at young Japanese scientists. Starting from FY 2016, the two programs will be merged into a new SPDR program. Qualified candidates of all nationalities are welcome to apply. Please see below for details.

1. Description

The involvement of creative young scientists is critical in pioneering new frontiers of science and technology. RIKEN’s Special Postdoctoral Researcher Program is a program to foster the development of researchers who will become internationally active in the future, and 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.

2. Research fields

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

3. Number of openings

Around 60

4. Qualifications

Applicants must fulfill all four conditions given below:
(1) Be prepared to independently and responsibly pursue a research topic.
(2) Have a PhD in the natural sciences awarded on or after January 1, 2010, or expect to be awarded a PhD by the date of hire.

Note: Those with PhDs acquired prior to December 31, 2009, may also apply if there was a lapse in their research activity, and 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 for submitting the application.
Examples of acceptable periods of lapse: maternity leave, childcare leave, and working in private industry in a non-research capacity.

(3) Able to start work in FY 2016 (April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017)
(4) Those who have been continuously employed at RIKEN prior to March 31, 2009, are NOT eligible to apply.
(5) Those who have previously participated in the SPDR and FPR programs are NOT eligible to apply.

6. Duration of contract

(1) From date of hire (April 1, 2016) to March 31, 2017 (Actual starting state to be decided upon consultation)
(2) Contract can be renewed on the basis of an evaluation made prior to the conclusion of the contract, up to 3 years from the date of hire.

7. Salary and benefits

  1. Annual salary paid in  monthly installments of 487,000 yen (social insurance premiums and taxes included). Commuting allowance (actual cost up to maximum of 55,000 yen per month) and housing allowance (partial payment of rent) will also be paid.
  2. Travel cost to take up the appointment at RIKEN will be compensated according to RIKEN’s rules and regulations.
  3. Enrollment in the RIKEN Mutual Benefit Society (Kyosaikai) is compulsory. A Kyosaikai membership fee will be automatically deducted from your salary each month.
  4. Days off from work include Saturdays and Sundays, national holidays, year-end/New Year holidays (Dec. 29 to Jan. 3), and RIKEN Foundation Day.
  5. Other provisions as per RIKEN regulations.
  6. Research budget: 1,000,000 yen per year
  • Salary is based on FY 2014 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.

8. Application procedures and deadline


  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 FY 2016. Refer to the "Laboratories with SPDR Openings" 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, 2015.

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

  4. Language

    Either Japanese or English is acceptable for SPDR application documents and interviews.

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. It will help to register your basic information early, as you will be able to revise it later and also upload any other revised documents a second time. 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, 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.

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.
Later you may revise your basic information and upload revised documents, if necessary.
IMPORTANT: All files must first be converted to PDF format before you can upload them. Word files cannot be uploaded.


5 p.m., April 30, 2015, Thursday (Japan Time)

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

9. 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 2015
(Screening results, date of interview)
Stage II
Field Interview date Location Mid September 2015
(Final results)
Physics I July 30 or 31 Wako,
Physics II August 3 or 4
Chemistry July 28 or 29
Biology July 28 or 29
Medical science August 3 or 4
Engineering July 30

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

10. Inquiries

Junior Scientist Program Section
Global Relations and Research Coordination Office, RIKEN
2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama, 351-0198
Fax: 048-463-3687
Note: Please send queries by fax or email. Telephone inquiries cannot be accepted.
Information cannot be provided on the details of the screening process.

11. Additional information

  1. Incomplete or incorrect applications may be rejected.
  2. Submitted application documents cannot be returned or changed.
  3. 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.
  4. All costs incurred in making application, other than those noted under section 9 above, must be paid for by the applicant.
  5. Intellectual property issues will be handled in accordance with RIKEN regulations.
  6. Only one research topic per applicant allowed.
  7. The provisions for this position are premised on RIKEN’s current budget and are subject to change with any change in the budget.
  8. SPDRs are expected to work under the direction of the head of their host laboratory.