Max Planck Research Group Leader (W2)

The Max Planck Institutes for Biogeochemistry, Chemical Ecology and The Science of Human History invite applications for a Max Planck Research Group Leader (W2) on

Extreme events in biological, societal and earth systems

Extreme events, such as extreme weather, pathogen attacks, technological transitions or even shocks in financial markets can induce highly non-linear responses with severe impacts that cascade across coupled biotic-social-earth systems. On the other hand, the earth system, and life in general, have persisted through a history of extreme events, and even adapted to become more resilient as a result. By definition extreme events are very rare, which implies an important scientific challenge to studying them.

Specific examples of basic research questions in the context of extreme events include:

  • How are short- and long-term impacts of extreme events recorded in archeological, chemical, biological and Earth System records?
  • What properties make geo-ecological, biological and societal systems resistant and resilient to extreme events?
  • How is (system) evolution affected by the occurrence of extreme events?
  • Can we anticipate/predict the occurrence and impact of extreme events in biological, societal and Earth systems? Are there early warning signals associated with them?
  • How do we plan for the highly uncertain risks associated with extreme events, which combine very low likelihood with very large impact?
  • How important are extreme events (climatic, environmental, social) for human history and evolution, and what is their potential to drive future disruptions?

We seek a talented, dynamic, independent and motivated scientist early in his / her career to establish a Max Planck Research Group on this cross-cutting topic at one of our Max-Planck Institutes in Jena. The successful candidate will develop an independent research program using his / her own budget, which will fund research positions, consumables, and equipment. Projects that cross-cut disciplinary boundaries and bring together the methods and infrastructure of more than one of the host institutes are particularly encouraged. The successful candidate should have an outstanding scientific track record with clear evidence of leadership, and a strong interest in interdisciplinary science covering the proposed topic.

The initial appointment of the group leader is for 5 years with the possibility of extension after international review and conditional on legal and financial options. The salary is based on remuneration group W2 Federal Civil Service Remuneration Act. The start date and work place are negotiable and should follow the scientific interest.

Applications should include

  • A cover letter explaining your motivation to apply for this position
  • Your Curriculum Vitae including your publication list
  • A statement of scientific achievements
  • A two page summary of your future research plans
  • Up to three of your most important papers

Applications should be sent as one single pdf-file to Please also arrange for three academic references to be sent as pdf-files to the same email address. Deadline for applications including references is March 15, 2018.

The Max-Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals. Furthermore, the Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.

Successful applicants should be prepared to join a selection symposium held in Jena, Germany on May 2, 2018.

Scientific inquiries can be sent to any of the directors of the institutes. For further information about the Institutes see,,