Institute History


November 19, 1993: Three years after German reunification the Max Planck Society enacts guidelines on the formation of a homogeneous German research landscape.


December 4-6, 1994: Max Planck Society’s committee “Chemical Communication in Ecosystems”, members including Peter Hausen and Uli Schwarz from the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, initiates a symposium in Munich. Among the invited speakers are Ian T. Baldwin (SUNY Buffalo, NY/USA) and Wilhelm Boland (University of Bonn).


October 8-11, 1995: The “dream team” of the new institute to be founded presents itself with Ian Baldwin, Wilhelm Boland, Jonathan Gershenzon and Thomas Mitchell-Olds at a meeting in Berlin.
October 18, 1995: In a letter to Ian Baldwin the Section for Biology and Medicine of the Max Planck Society gives the green light for the institute.


March 15, 1996: Foundation of a “Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology” in Jena with the purpose: “The scientific goal […] is the analysis of the functional basis of evolutionary processes which lead to the development, continuation and alteration of ecosystems and organisms. In an interdisciplinary approach that combines ecology, biochemistry, population genetics as well as analytical and preparatory organic chemistry research questions are exemplary addressed by studying interactions between plants and herbivores.”

June 20, 1996: Ian T. Baldwin (SUNY Buffalo, NY/USA), Wilhelm Boland (University of Bonn), Jonathan Gershenzon (Washington State University, Pullman WA/USA)  and Thomas Mitchell-Olds (University of Montana, Missoula, MT/USA)  are appointed Scientific Members and directors of the institute.

September 1, 1996: Commencement of research at the new institute with the Departments of Bioorganic Chemistry (Boland), Molecular Ecology (Baldwin), Biochemistry (Gershenzon) and Genetics and Evolution (Mitchell-Olds), initially at the current research institutions of the appointed directors. On November 21, 1996, a new building on Beutenberg Campus is approved for which the Free State of Thuringia provides a site of approximately two hectares; construction starts in September 1999.


October 1, 1997: The institute moves to rented space at the ZEISS company, inaugurated on November 20, 1997. In addition to the four departments, the research group Biosynthesis/NMR, headed by Bernd Schneider, is established. At the end of the year the institute has 53 co-workers.


April 1998: The newly appointed Scientific Advisory Board meets for the first time.
Members of the Advisory Board since 1998:

  • Richard Benton, University of Lausanne, Switzerland (since 2012)
  • May Berenbaum, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign IL/USA (2003-2008)
  • Jon Clardy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA/USA (since 2014)
  • Vincenzo de Luca, Brock University, Canada (2003-2011)
  • Paul P. Feeny, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY/USA (1998-2008; chair 1998-2002)
  • René Feyereisen, Universite Nice Sophia Antipolis, France (2007-2011)
  • Wittko Francke, Hamburg University (1998-2011)
  • Mike D. Gale, John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK (1998-2006)
  • Brandon S. Gaut, UC Irvine, CA/USA (2003-.2006)
  • Maria J. Harrison, Boyce Thompson Institute, USA (since 2012)
  • Thomas Hartmann, TU Braunschweig (1998-2008; chair 2003-2007)
  • Hopi E. Hoekstra, Harvard University, MA/USA (since 2012)
  • Julia Kubanek, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA/USA (since 2012, chair since 2017)
  • Alison Mercer, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand (since 2016)
  • Birger Lindberg Møller, Universität Kopenhagen, Denmark (since 2009)
  • Caroline Müller Universität Bielefeld (since 2016)
  • John A. Pickett, Rothamsted Research, UK (2003-2016; chair 2008-2016)
  • Robert A. Raguso, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY/USA (2009-2015)
  • Gene Robinson, Univ. Illinois, USA (2009-2012)
  • Frank C. Schroeder, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY/USA (2014-2017)
  • Leslie B. Vosshall, Rockefeller University, New York, NY/USA (2007-2015)
  • Danièle Werck-Reichhart, Univ. Strasbourg, France (since 2009)
  • Meinhardt Zenk, Univ. Halle/Saale (1998-2002)

1998: The Research Group Mass Spectrometry is established which is headed by Neil Oldham (1998-2001); since January 2002 Aleš Svatoš is the head of the group.


June 30, 2000: Topping-out ceremony at the new institute building.


November/December 2001: The institute moves to its new building on Beutenberg Campus (Hans-Knöll-Straße 8, 07745 Jena).


March 8, 2002: David G. Heckel (University of Melbourne, Australia) is appointed Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society and directors at the institute (Department of Entomology); commencement of work on July 16, 2003, as a secondary appointment), and on January 16, 2004, full-time.

April 9, 2002: Official inauguration of the new building and large greenhouse on Beutenberg Campus with a festive event in the assembly hall of Friedrich Schiller University by the president of the Max Planck Society Hubert Markl. Architects: Bachmann, Marx, Brechensbauer, Weinhart, Munich.


2003: Establishment of an International Max Planck Research School (Topic: “The Exploration of Environmental Interactions with Molecular and Chemical Techniques“) in cooperation with Friedrich Schiller University Jena and the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology Forschung und Infektionsbiologie – Hans Knoell Institute, from 2004 with courses, and from 2005 with a doctoral program.


David G. Heckel starts doing research in Jena, where  he establishes his Department of Entomology.


January 2005: The new proteomics laboratory is put into operation.

March 2, 2005: Jörn Piel from the Department of Bioorganic Chemistry receives the Thurinigan Research Award for research on bacterial symbionts as producers of active agents.

May 23-24, 2005: Ian Baldwin organizes the Ecology/Biodiversity Research Symposium as a satellite of the Max Planck Society event "Science & Art in Europe” with the goal to intensify scientific exchange with countries in Middle and Eastern Europe.

July 7, 2005: Constitutive meeting of the new Board of Trustees of the institute.
Members of the Board of Trustees since 2005:

  • Klaus Berka Analytik Jena AG (since 2017)
  • Klaus Dicke, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena (since 2005; chair since 2005)
  • Thomas Deufel, Thuringian Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, Erfurt (2009-2014)
  • André Domin, Technologiepark Heidelberg (2005-2010)
  • Bernd Ebersold, Thuringian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Science and Digital Society (since 2015)
  • Claudia Eggert, Kooperationsstelle EU der Wissennschaftsorganisationen , since 2017 Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und Prüfung (BAM), Berlin (since 2015)
  • Ullrich Erzigkeit, Ostthüringer Zeitung, Löbichau (2011-2013)
  • Jens Goebel, Thuringian Ministry of Education (2005-2008)
  • Fred Robert Heiker, Bayer Innovation (2005-2010)
  • Sabine Hild, Thüringer Institut für Lehrerfortbildung, Lehrplanentwicklung und Medien (ThILLM), Bad Berka (since 2005)
  • Benedikt Otto, Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk MDR, Landesfunkhaus Thüringen, Erfurt (since 2005)
  • Bernward Müller, Thuringian Ministry of Education (2008-2009)
  • Klaus Raming, Bayer CropScience AG, Monheim (since 2011)
  • Peter Röhlinger, Member of the German Parliament, Berlin (2005, 2011-2016)
  • Walter Rosenthal, Friedrich Schiller University Jena (since 2015)
  • Dirk Michael Rothweiler, Jenoptik Optical Systems GmbH, Jena (2011-2016)
  • Angelika Schimmel, Ostthüringer Zeitung, Gera (since 2015)
  • Albrecht Schröter, Mayor of the City of Jena (since 2006)
  • Ulrich Simon, Carl Zeiss MicroImaging GmbH, Jena (2008-2016)
  • Justus Felix Wehmer Carl Zeiss Microscopy GmbH Jena (since 2017)
  • Alexander von Witzleben, Jenoptik AG Jena (2005-2007)


January 1, 2006: Thomas Mitchell-Olds leaves the institute at his own request to continue his work at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina/USA.

March 24, 2006: Bill S. Hansson (SLU Alnarp, Sweden) is appointed Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society and director at the institute. His Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology starts its work on April 1, 2006.  An extension building is approved for the new department on March 13, 2008. The “Schneiderhaus” is completed in 2012.

September 10-14, 2006: Jonathan Gershenzon organizes the 1st International Conference on Glucosinolates "Glucosinolate Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry and its Application to Human Health and Agriculture" in Jena.  120 scientists from 20 countries participate.


July 22-27, 2007: The 23rd Annual Conference of the Society of Chemical Ecology (ISCE) takes place in Jena. The event is organized by Wilhelm Boland, vice president from 2007-2008, and president from 2008-2009 of the society which has 450 active members worldwide.

October 1, 2007: The Jena School for Microbial Communication (JSMC) is receives funding from the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the German Research Foundation. The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology is one of the partners of this graduate school. Wilhelm Boland is deputy coordinator and member of managing board of the school.


August 27-29, 2008: Bernd Schneider (NMR) organizes a conference on the LC-NMR method, which combines Liquid Chromatography with Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Mass Spectrometry (MS). 75 scientists from 23 countries and five continents take part.

October 12-15, 2008: The international Central and Eastern European Proteomics Conference (CEEPC) is organized by Aleš Svatoš (MS) and held in Jena for the first time. 70 proteome researchers participate.


May 3-5, 2009: The science train “Expedition Zukunft” (Expedition Future) of the Max Planck Society visits Jena and inspires hundreds of guests by providing interactive exhibits, multimedia-based installations, a hands-on laboratory, movies, images and a lot of background information. Together with the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology organizes a course of lectures for school children under the motto “Science Adventure”.


April 15, 2010: The wind tunnel facilities of the Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology are officially commissioned in rooms rented at ZEISS. They will move to the new Schneiderhaus facility of the institute in 2012.

April 22, 2010: The first Forsche-Schüler-Tag is organized on Beutenberg Campus. 30 school kids visit the institute to perform scientific experiments together with researchers in the labs. This “future career day” was co-initiated by the institute with the goal to provide young people with insights into research and development. It is organized once a year, usually at the end of April. 


January 2012: Ian Baldwin received an ERC Advanced Grant (European Research Council). Project: “Ecological performance of arrhythmic plants in nature” (Clockwork Green). Running period: April 1, 2012, until March 31, 2017. Total budget: 2.496.002 EUR.

April 19, 2012: The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology becomes a founding member of the Jena Integration Association to express its commitment for an open and tolerant city.

April 7, 2012: The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology is a member of the successful application consortium of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv). The official foundation of the centre takes place on May 14, 2012.

June 3 23-27, 2012: Bill S. Hansson organizes the XVIth International Symposium on Olfaction and Taste (ISOT) in Stockholm, Sweden, with 724 participants.

October 19, 2012: The institute organizes an art exhibition with paintings by Hans-Joachim Wiesner in order to express an intention to keep science in contact with art. It is the first in a series of annual art exhibition in the institute, which are open to the public each year from the end of October until Christmas.


January 1, 2013: Project start of a cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME), Aachen. Project: "MEP Pathways as a platform for isoprenoid formation“. Partner: Jonathan Gershenzon, MPI, and Stefan Jennewein, IME. Running period: January 1, 2013, until December 31, 2015. Total budget: 998.235 EUR.

April 30, 2013: Ian Baldwin is elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) of the United States of America. Later that year he also becomes an elected member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

October 13-16, 2012: The Central and Eastern European Proteomics Conference with more than 100 participants takes place in Jena for the second time. Symposia topics include clinical proteomics and interactomics, new technologies for high throughput clinical proteomics, and plant, insect and bacterial proteomics.


June 5, 2014: Bill S. Hansson is elected vice president of the Max Planck Society. He is the first person to accept this office who is not a German. One of his main tasks as vice president is the advancement of internationalization in the Max Planck Society.

August 20, 2014: The DFG Collaborative Research Center  “Chemical Mediators in Complex Biosystems” (ChemBioSys) is approved. Project partners include the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology – Hans Knöll Institute,  Friedrich Schiller University, and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology.


March 9, 2015: Martin Kaltenpoth, head of the Max Planck Research Group Insect Symbiosis, receives the Thuringian Research Award for basis science on the topic ""Antibiotics from insect symbioses: A fascinating defensive association with bacteria."


September 21/22, 2017: The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology celebrates 20 years of research in Jena. Wilhelm Boland provides a detailed overview on the history of the research area and the development of the institute. Topic: "Chemische Ökologie in Jena; ein Institut wird erwachsen".