AHEAD Trans-National Access: Fifth Call for Proposals Nov 2017

The deadline for submission of proposals is 5th January 2018. This call is therefore now opened. The next call will open on approximately 1st June 2018.

Please note that this call is only for scientists working in EU member states and associated countries


The goal of this work package is to provide trans-national access (TNA) to X-ray and gamma-ray data analysis methods including use of data tools, archives and space instruments via tutorials and mentoring by experienced scientists at the delivery institutes. The primary aim is to widen opportunities for scientists to exploit both European-funded and international X-ray astronomy facilities and X-ray data archives in order to enhance high-energy astrophysics science across Europe. Users must meet certain EU and AHEAD rules for formal eligibility. Applications by users from EU member states and associated countries are eligible under this call. Users must apply to visit a facility located in a country other than the country in which they currently work. The activities will be particularly designed to assist relatively inexperienced users in smaller institutes, but will be tailored to the needs of scientists with a wide range of experience.

The call for obtaining access to host facilities supported by the AHEAD Trans-National Access programme closes at exactly 17:00 CET on 5 January 2018 and no requests for late submissions will be accepted. The next semester for facility access will run from 1 March 2018 to 31 August 2018. A list of the foreseen calls, their opening and closing dates, and the “standard” semester of visits they refer to is provided below. The dates listed below are still provisional and some adjustments may be made during the AHEAD implementation phase. However given the foreseen schedule of the AHEAD project, all the TNA activities have to be concluded by the end of January 2019.

Call Opening Date Closing Date Decision Date Reference Semester
First December 10th 2015 January 15th 2016 end Feb 2016 March 1st 2016 — August 31st 2016
Second May 16th 2016 June 30th 2016 end Jul 2016 September 1st 2016 — February 28th 2017
Third November 15th 2016 December 31st 2016 end Jan 2017 March 1st 2017 — August 31st 2017
Fourth May 15th 2017 June 30th 2017 end Jul 2017 September 1st 2017 — February 28th 2018
Fifth November 20th 2017 January 5th 2018 end Jan 2018 March 1st 2018 — August 31st 2018
Sixth June 1st 2018 June 30th 2018 end Jul 2018 September 1st 2018 — February 28th 2019

Following a selection process, to ensure suitability of the user, and an initial discussion of the user's needs, to ensure the user's activities will be productive and efficient, users will typically visit a delivery institute for a period of 5-10 working days (the standard award will be for 5 working days). The costs of the visit will be covered by the AHEAD project, subject to a reasonable daily limit, and users will be given practical help to arrange their visit, i.e. to arrange travel, accommodation and ensure prompt reimbursement of costs. The travel rules are available on this page: http://ahead.iaps.inaf.it/?page_id=213 The trans-national access to the University of Geneva is supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) under contract number REF-1131-52107.

The delivery institute will provide the users with: a hands-on tutorial in the most up-to-date methods in X-ray data analysis (imaging, time series, spectroscopy); specific data analysis methods tailored to the users own research project(s); assistance with using software packages specific to European and international X-ray missions; and given guidance in the exploitation of data archives located at the host institutions and elsewhere, including multi-waveband analysis; and mentoring in how to make use of the software and X-ray facilities when the user returns home, including a point of contact at the delivery institute for follow-up discussions. Thus a visit will be part of a process to enable science for the user rather than a single end point.

Access to the following host institutes is offered. During the application process users may choose up to three host institutes from:

During their visit the user will be given space within an office in the host institute, access to the internet and assigned a contact scientist who be responsible for delivery of tutorial material and who will be available throughout the visit for mentoring and scientific discussions on the use of methods for spectroscopic, time series and imaging data analysis using the most recent versions of high-energy astrophysics software. Software packages typically available include ftools, HEAsoft, XSELECT, XSTAR and mission specific software including those for XMM-Newton, Chandra and Swift as well as specialized software developed at the host institution. Details of the tutorials available at each host institute are given via the links above.

The user will be encouraged while present to join in the usual research activities of the host institution (seminars, discussions of recent techniques and results, updates on current/future space missions and external training opportunities). The latter activities will be particularly important for users from small research centres to ensure they maintain contact with the subject once they return home.

Selection process

Visiting users will be selected via a competitive process based on need and current access to X-ray facilities, and will be allocated to a host institute. If selected the user will be invited for a unit of time, typically 5 working days with a day of travel either side. The dates of the visit will be subject to mutual agreement within each call period. Prior to the visit, there will be preliminary discussions with the user to ascertain their current experience and detailed requirements so the tutorial information can be best tailored to their needs. Additional support will be given after the visit ends to ensure the user obtains maximum benefit. For each institute listed above there is a contact scientist who can provide more information on the host.

Prospective users must submit an application via the web form below. The applicant should provide a CV and enclose a letter of recommendation from their employer or supervisor; explain how the proposed visit would benefit their research; and specify a ranked list of possible hosts, explaining how they would make use of the relevant expertise available at each host. The selection panel will consider proposals based on the following criteria: scientific excellence, previous experience, location and gender. The primary language used for the AHEAD project training scheme will be English and users should make clear in their proposal if they wish to be trained via another language. The AHEAD TNA scheme is available to all potential users, but the selection process will be biased towards users with a lack of suitable facilities for gaining specific training in their home country and to relatively inexperienced users. The selection process will encourage users to obtain tutoring in facilities and methods outside of their previous experience so as to expand their future use of X-ray facilities, broaden their outlook and hence boost future employment prospects. Users will be expected to provide feedback on their visit.

Once selected, users will be allocated a contact scientist and help will be given to arrange the visit. Users are responsible for any visa and both travel and medical insurance requirements.

In order to be able to fulfill EU rules on TNA activity reporting, each of the selected teams must prepare a short (max 1-2 page) final summary report of its activity at the given facility and to give a signed copy to the local facility management. Publications resulting from work carried out under this TNA activity must acknowledge the support of the European Community and the AHEAD Project. Each of the selected users is asked to provide the following information to the contact person of the visited facility and to the TNA data analysis coordinator (paul.obrien at leicester.ac.uk): (a) a list of their publications that have appeared in journals (or conference proceedings) resulting from work carried out under this TNA activity. For each publication we kindly ask to indicate: the title of the user project that have led to the publication itself, the authors, the title, the year of publication, the type of publication (Article in journal, Publication in conference proceeding/workshop/on-line repository, Book/Monograph, Chapters in book, Thesis/dissertation, etc.), whether it has been peer-reviewed or not, the DoI (Digital Object Identifier), the publication references, and whether the publication is available under Open Access or not.

All publications resulting from AHEAD activity should include the following acknowledgement:-

"The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Programme under the AHEAD project (grant agreement 654215)"

Application form

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A CV must be provided. PDF format is required.

A covering letter must be provided from the student's employer or supervisor. PDF format is required.