Applying for faculty positions at NCBS

NCBS is keen to consider applications from candidates with proven excellence in their field of research for faculty positions.  We do not have a fixed number of ‘posts’, neither do we search for targeted research themes.  If your track record demonstrates that you possess the requisite intellect, technical capabilities, commitment and potential, please do apply to us. Applications will be accepted throughout the year.

1. Faculty positions available

We normally consider candidates with 0-3 years of postdoctoral experience for a Fellow (Assistant Professor) level position; 5-6 years of postdoctoral experience, for a Reader (Senior Assistant Professor) level position.  If you are a senior independent investigator, we can consider you for positions at the Associate Professor or Professor level (For some early career applicants our Young Investigator Programme may be more appropriate).

2. Who can apply?

Currently the interests of our faculty range from single molecule biophysics to population biology and ecology . We realize that modern biology is interdisciplinary and are happy to consider applicants with backgrounds in the medical , physical sciences, chemistry or mathematics with strong research proposals in biology.  Your research interest need not match the existing areas pursued at NCBS.  While, we usually tap the large pool of internationally trained Indian scientists, people of any nationality are encouraged to apply.

3. When to apply

In general, it is wise to apply as early as you feel able.  You must have formulated clear-cut plans for future research and feel that you have the ability to initiate and sustain an independent research group.

4. How to apply (NCBS is now accepting online applications- Click here)

You will need you CV with a list of publications, and a 1-2 page summary of your research accomplishments.  You may upload PDFs of your recent research papers to accompany your application.  In addition, please send us a 3-5 page research proposal describing your plans for future research over a 5-10 year period.  Ensure that you bring out the importance of your general area of research, and of your specific projects in this context. When writing, please keep in mind that your application will be perused by biologists trained in diverse fields, potentially different from yours. You will also have to provide the names and addresses (including email) of eight referees who can comment on your application and on your abilities. If you experience any difficulty in this process please write to 'dean [at] ncbs.res.in'.

5. After you apply

Your application will undergo a preliminary screening together with others received, and we may write to your referees for their advice. If selected, you will be invited to visit NCBS.  You may prompt your referees to send in their letters, but ask them to wait for our letter because we ask them specific questions about you.

Your application will be considered further only after you visit and will normally be kept “alive” for a year.

6. When you visit

You will not have to undergo a formal interview. You may instead be invited to give a research seminar and thereafter talk to all faculty members individually. It will be nice if you can plan on spending at least one and a half days at NCBS, if you are invited.
The seminar: Give this the importance it deserves and provide some knowledge on relevant background in the area. We find that excellent talks are given by those who have practiced beforehand.  Target your audience well; remember that it will have widely varied backgrounds and you could plan a slightly longer introduction if you feel your work is very different from what an audience at NCBS might be used to listening. Remember that presenting too much data can be counterproductive if you lose the audience early on.  Make it obvious that you have not only the ability to produce data, but also the capability to think wisely about it.  You have one hour; make the best use of it.

Meetings with individual faculty. We will schedule a series of meetings with a section of the faculty.  The meetings with individual faculty will be informal and interactive and give you a chance to discuss your research interests in more detail.  You will also have an opportunity to learn the research interests of different faculty members.  Faculty members will be keen to find out how your experience and research abilities will enrich NCBS.

Faculty members will also describe their own work to you. If you have taken the trouble to find out what each one works on, so much the better.

Meetings with the Dean and/or NCBS Director. Come prepared with a list of all that you would need to get started at NCBS, if you were to be selected.  Make sure you have thought about all you need to be productive in as short a time as possible in NCBS.

NCBS has been rather generous in providing start-up funds for new investigators it wants.

7. Then what

Your application will be looked at closely by an internal committee. Your case will be presented to and be discussed by the whole faculty. We feel it necessary that the faculty be generally enthusiastic. Upon a positive response from the faculty, your application will be steered through an internal committee and the NCBS Management Board. All this can take a few months, but we inform you soon of the outcome of the faculty deliberations.

8. Tenure

All positions are ‘tenure-track’; when you join NCBS you will be assigned a committee of mentors who will ensure that you understand the tenure process.  The tenure process is initiated no later than 4.5 years after you join NCBS and its granting is dependent on your proven ability to have established a research program at NCBS.

Upinder S. Bhalla
Dean, NCBS
dean at ncbs dot res dot in

Applying for The Young Investigator Programme at NCBS

The Young Investigator Programme (YIP) is for exceptionally talented, young scientists (referred to informally as YIPs) who wish to establish themselves rapidly as independent researchers. Since 2004 when the programme was started, NCBS has hosted several YIPs, many of whom have moved on to independent faculty positions.

1. What positions are available

NCBS would like to have at least 7 YIPs at steady state, and is keen on making at least one new YIP appointment a year. Salary and benefits will be attractive. Accommodation, at nominal rent, will be provided. The scheme envisages, essentially, a 5 year term with a stringent review at the end of three years. Those YIPs who leave after a positive review to take up academic or research appointments in India will be actively assisted in setting up their laboratories in their new positions. In the event the 3 year review is not positive, the YIP will be expected to wind up their research within a specified period.

2. Who can apply

A YIP appointment is a career option for a variety of researchers: those who have only just finished their PhD degree and would like to work independently; young scientists with some post-doctoral experience who would like to explore a specific question; and those who have embarked on a completely new direction early in their career. We encourage approaches that address new questions or take novel paths. There are no targeted specific areas of hiring and we have made appointments in several research areas across biology. We greatly encourage applicants in new disciplines, as the boundaries of biological research expand and intersect with the physical sciences, engineering, and medicine. Indian citizenship is not a prerequisite and international applicants are encouraged to apply.

3. Who should not apply

Applicants who have either had considerable postdoctoral experience (>3 years), or who are already senior independent investigators, are encouraged to apply for faculty positions at NCBS. Applicants whose proposal links very closely with an existing research group at NCBS should consider applying to the 'NCBS Fellows programme'. We do not consider proposals that are primarily high-throughput screening projects with no central scientific hypothesis.

4. When to apply

In general, the earlier the better. Apply with a clear-cut plan for future research; your track record must demonstrate that you possess the requisite intellect, technical capabilities, commitment and potential.

5. How to apply ( Now NCBS is accepting online applications )

Send your CV with a list of all publications, and a 1-2 page summary of your research accomplishments so far. Send reprints of your most significant papers (maximum of five) as soft copies for ready reference. Please also send us a 3-5 page research proposal describing your plans for future research that you plan to pursue over a 5-year period. Ensure that you bring out the importance of your general area of research, and of your specific projects in this context. Remember that your application will be perused by biologists trained in very different fields, so write accordingly. Finally, send the names and addresses (including email) of six referees who are willing and can comment on your application and on your abilities.

6. After you apply

Your application will undergo a preliminary screening along with others and if selected, you will be invited to visit NCBS, and we will write to your referees. You may prompt your referees to send in their letters, but please do ask them to wait for us to contact them since we ask them specific questions about you. Typically, your application will be considered further only after you visit. Your file will be kept active for a year from the date of submission.

7. When you visit

You will not have to undergo a formal interview. You may instead be invited to give a research seminar, and thereafter talk to all faculty members individually. If invited, you should plan on spending at least two days NCBS.

The seminar: Give this the importance it deserves and provide some knowledge on relevant background in the area. We find that excellent talks are given by those who have practiced beforehand. Target your audience well; remember that it will have widely varied backgrounds and you could plan a slightly longer introduction if you feel your work is very different from what an audience at NCBS might be used to listening. Remember that presenting too much data can be counterproductive if you lose the audience early on. Make it obvious that you have not only the ability to produce data, but also the capability to think wisely about it. You have one hour; make the best use of it.

Meetings with individual faculty members: We will schedule a series of meetings with a section of the faculty. The meetings with individual faculty members will be informal and interactive; they will give you a chance to discuss one another’s research interests in more detail. Faculty members will be keen to find out how your experience and research abilities will enrich NCBS.

Meetings with the Dean and/or NCBS Director: Come prepared with a list of all that you would need to get started at NCBS, if you were to be selected. Make sure you have thought about all you need to be productive in as short a time as possible.

8. Funding and start-up at NCBS

NCBS has been rather generous in providing start-up funds for YIPs, and can match funding levels of the best funded laboratories in the world today. With an expanding core infrastructure and the springing up of new institutes with heavy investments in platform technology in our vicinity, we offer an extremely conducive research environment, competitive for you to carry out your research. Selected candidates will be provided all possible support to further their research goals. These include bench space, generous supplies and equipment as required for the project, access to international facilities such as synchrotrons, genomic resources, transgenic resources etc. Salary support for up to two research assistants will be provided during the start-up period. Should post-doctoral fellows or graduate students elect to join the investigator, their salaries will also be supported. (Graduate students or post-doctoral positions are filled by interviews conducted by the faculty. These are fully funded positions, and the candidates may chose to join any investigator’s laboratory.) Investigators will get support to attend one international meeting each year and will be allowed to spend up to three months each year in a laboratory other than NCBS, should their collaborations so require.

9. Then what

Following your visit, and after all your referee reports are in, your application will be looked at closely by an internal committee. Your case will then be presented to and be discussed by the whole faculty. We feel it necessary that the faculty be generally enthusiastic. Upon a positive response from the faculty, your application will be steered through an internal committee and the NCBS Management Board. All this can take a few months, but we inform you soon of the outcome of the faculty deliberations. We aim to deliver a decision to a potential YIP candidate within three months.

Upinder S. Bhalla
Dean, NCBS
dean at ncbs dot res dot in

The tenure system at NCBS is a key and integral part of efforts to constantly improve its overall research performance and is used to decide whether to continue an initial 5- year appointment of a faculty member to a continuing one.

It is the policy of NCBS that each new appointee be supported very strongly in every way so that an independent programme can be started in the shortest possible period. In return, NCBS expects that the appointee perform at a level equivalent or better than peers in the best departments elsewhere in the world. Given the stringent selection procedure for faculty at NCBS, the high quality of those recruited and the level of support provided, we reasonably expect that most of our colleagues can meet the very high standards required.

The Dean will appoint a tenure advisory committee to advise each new faculty member, in matters related to research progress and scientific output. We stress that the committee has a purely advisory capacity, and its views are not binding. The purpose of this committee is serve as an official ‘sounding- board’ to the faculty member, in addition to the several informal interactions that take place. The faculty member will arrange to meet with this committee about once a year, or more frequently if so desired. The faculty member is encouraged to bring to the attention of the committee, any special problems or requirements. The tenure advisory committee may choose to express its views in writing to ensure that its views and concerns, if any, are clearly conveyed. The tenure advisory committee will continue to function until the tenure decision.

To be granted tenure, the faculty member must demonstrate the establishment of a successful research programme which address well thought out, important research questions. The single most important measure of this is research publications of quality. The level of performance expected from a new appointee to be granted tenure is being continuously ratcheted upwards. Hence it is not advisable for a new appointee to go by what has happened in the past for others. Others currently at similar levels, in best institutions anywhere, would be a wiser measure of comparison.

New appointees, at the level of Fellow or Reader, will be assessed for tenure according to the following schedule. Towards the end of their first contract (usually of 5 years) faculty members will be given a new contract of a two-year duration. They should submit their papers for evaluation for a continuing appointment no later than at the end of the first year of this two-year contract. To reiterate, Faculty members are required to submit their consolidated application for tenure no later than a total of 5.5 years after joining. The evaluation for tenure can, therefore, take place in the second year of this two-year contract. There is, of course, no bar in applying for tenure at any earlier stage. The maximum period within which a tenure application is to be submitted can be extended only in exceptional circumstances (e.g. health problems, maternity/paternity leave, family crisis). In such cases, the faculty member should make a formal request to the Dean for the tenure period to be extended. This request, unless extenuated by an emergency, must be be made well in advance, typically before the end of the first five year contract.

The Dean will write to the candidate at the appropriate time asking that a formal application for tenure be made. This application will have a work report, reprints of publications and a curriculum vita.

The Dean will send the tenure papers submitted by the candidate to reviewers, some of who may be chosen from the list suggested by the candidate. Their recommendations of will be examined by a panel appointed by Chair of the NCBS Management Board. This panel will typically include the Dean, the NCBS Director, chosen scientific members of the Board and experts who can analyze the candidates work as needed. The views of this panel will be presented to the NCBS Management Board, which will take a final decision.

If tenure is not granted, the faculty member will have the remainder of the two-year contract to plan a transition. Should additional time be required, the faculty member may be given a new short term position of one year, extendable by yet another year, on reasonable grounds, to allow transition to a position elsewhere.

Those who have qualified in the CSIR/ICMR examination and would like to join NCBS as junior research fellows must have a clear idea of their research interests. If their research interests match with those of our research faculty, please do contact them directly.  M.Sc/B.E./B.Tech candidates also can contact the research faculty directly. They will be supported by the Project Incharge's research grants, if selected.

JRFs are not ordinarily allowed to register for a degree. If a Junior Research Fellows wants to register for a degree, they should apply in response to advertisements appearing nationally in Augsut/September every year. If the selected candidate features on the waiting list for admission, (s)he can register for a degree while working on the grant. (S)he will be treated on par with students paid from NCBS funds. Once registered for a degree, the JRF will be subject to all the academic requirements that NCBS-paid students are.

Candidates on the Integrated PhD wait list can register for the MSc by research degree at TIFR Deemed University if a faculty member supports from his/her research grants.

Junior Research Fellows will be provided accommodation depending on the availability; otherwise they have to make their own arrangement for accommodation.

The NCBS Experience

Working at NCBS: what we have and where we aim to be

The NCBS campus is lucky to have open green spaces, many trees, bushes (w-free), flowering plants, migrating butterflies, geckos, bees and bats. We are located in the postgraduate  campus of the University of Agricultural Sciences, which has generously leased us 20 acres.  Our visitors and us have a pleasant, quiet and green environment to work and relax. We have  terrace cafeterias where coffee, snacks and light meals are served and birthdays celebrated.  Several handy chalkboards have made these cafeterias centers for discussion. Some of these  discussions have recently crystallized into a student-run symposium exploring different  areas in biology. A large canteen serves full meals from breakfast to  dinner. The canteen is located near a pond fed by harvested rainwater and clean water from  treated sewage. The pond-side is where we gather for dinner after on-campus symposia and  public lectures. We have an amphitheater that serves as an interactive place for tea after  scientifically exciting seminars. Facilities for tennis, basketball, volleyball, badminton, table  tennis and a gym are all available. We provide transport to all members of the community  into the ever-expanding Bangalore city. We also help our staff and faculty with their  commute to work. We have excellent accommodation for students and post-doctoral fellows.  We accommodate some faculty on campus and the rest in comfortable apartments and  houses close to campus. We do need to expand our campus housing for faculty as well as our  excellent administrative and technical staff. In the near future we hope to expand our hostel,  sports facilities and housing to keep pace with our scientific growth. 

One major factor that enhances the quality of life on campus is our on-campus child-care  and after-school program. This facility aims to be a complete one-stop solution for child-care  for children from the ages of 1 to 10 years. The campus environment provides space, lush  greenery, a park and a sand pit for children to play and learn. Over the years, our teachers,  staff, several visiting consultants, parents and exceptional institutional support have helped  develop the childcare center into an excellent facility. The day-to-day affairs of the facility  are coordinated by several experienced teachers. The NCBS community at large provides a  rich learning environment. We have several artists, wildlife lovers, storytellers and musicians  on campus who informally participate in various activities at the child care center. We have  age appropriate fun and educational activities for infants, toddlers, pre-school and school  going children. Current efforts are geared towards developing a stimulating after-school  program supplemented with off-campus activities such as swimming, volunteer work and  music in addition to homework and examination-related studies. We also undertake field  trips to various locations such as parks, science museums, circuses and dance concerts. Good  childcare is a major factor that achieves a supportive workplace for working parents. We aim  to provide a facility that recognizes the needs of working parents while providing children with a nurturing environment.