Offer 162 out of 265 from 01/07/24, 10:12


Max-Planck-Institut für evolutionäre Anthropologie - Zentrales Bewerbermanagement

The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Leipzig, Germany, is a world-leading research institute investigating one of the most fundamental questions in science: What makes humans human? The institute brings together scientists from a wide range of disciplines who take an interdisciplinary approach to gain new insights into the history, diversity and capabilities of the human species.

Animals have evolved social lifestyles many times and in many ways, resulting in social structures that range from temporary associations to stable, highly organized societies. The structures of animal social systems are thought to be shaped by the various evolutionary costs and benefits of living with others – for example, improved foraging efficiency or increased susceptibility to disease.

Recent research suggests another possible benefit: that social animals acquire some of their microbiome from their conspecifics. If this is true, then social partners may act as ‘reservoirs’ of beneficial microbes for individuals with newly developing or recently disrupted microbiomes. However, it is crucial to disentangle social microbiome transmission from other factors that affect the microbiome, such as diet, age, and landscape use, to evaluate this hypothesis. The Social Microbiome Group aims to understand how social living influences animal microbiomes, and in turn how microbes have shaped the costs and benefits of social evolution.

Doctoral position on social effects on animal microbiomes (m/f/d)

Working field:

We seek a doctoral researcher to integrate behavioral and genetic data to address several unresolved questions about the social microbiome. Depending on the interests of the doctoral candidate, projects may include:

  • Analyzing behavioral observations and gut microbiome sequences from the Amboseli Baboon Research Project, a long-term field study on the behavior and ecology of yellow baboons, to ask how social bonds predict the diversity and stability of the microbiome over time. Visits to the Kenyan field site of the ABRP are a possibility depending on the interests of the candidate.
  • Compiling and analyzing publicly available microbiome datasets across mammalian species to ask how microbiome composition is shaped by dimensions of sociality such as group size, dispersal patterns, mating systems, and parental care.
  • Collaborating with researchers working on other mammalian systems to generate new microbiome sequence datasets to expand the scope of analyses described in (2).


  • Successfully completed Master’s degree (including M.Sc. thesis) in evolutionary biology, ecology, conservation, or related fields.
  • Experience with animal behavior research.
  • Knowledge of genomics or bioinformatics is a plus, but not required.
  • Strong written and spoken English and the desire to work in a dynamic, international team (knowledge of German is not required for this position).

What we offer:

  • An exciting and rewarding job in a young, scientifically oriented, international team in one of the most renowned research institutions in Leipzig
  • Access to state-of-the-art scientific infrastructure
  • Targeted and individual mentoring
  • A structured training program with a flexible range of courses in addition to research on the project
  • The candidate will be enrolled within the International Max Planck Research School “The Leipzig School of Human Origins”
  • A 3-year doctoral funding contract corresponding to the TVöD Bund (Collective Wage Agreement for the Public Service) that combines research in scientific freedom with social security. It allows doctoral researchers to devote themselves independently to their scientific work without any constraints.
  • Excellent quality of life in Leipzig, including extensive green spaces, public transport options, work subsidy for the Deutschland job ticket, and support from a dedicated International Office
  • Family-friendly offers (support in finding a suitable childcare, family room, flexible working hours)

How to apply:

Please upload your complete application documents, including cover letter, CV and relevant references, to our application tool via our career-website: