Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Bioinformatics

Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

Jena, Germany

Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Bioinformatics

The Max Planck Society is one of Europe’s premier research organisations, with a talented, multinational workforce. Based in Jena, Germany, the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History is a leading global centre for the study of the human past. The institute’s Department of Archaeology is focused on developing and implementing cutting-edge new methods for exploring our species’ evolutionary origins and development. To do this, we work at the interface of multiple disciplines, including archaeology, biology, ecology, and evolutionary studies. We benefit from rich international partnerships, and exceptional research facilities. Our student and post-doctoral community is international and diverse, and we are committed to attracting, retaining and developing the best global talent within an environment that enables our staff to realize their full potential. Our working language is English.

Our Palaeoproteomics Group employs novel analytical advances in palaeoproteomics to explore diverse topics from the Late Quaternary extinction of megafauna to the prehistoric origin and spread of dairying and lactase persistence. We draw upon LC-MS/MS data to reconstruct evolutionary relationships and identify proteins to reconstruct ancient diet, health and lifestyle. We also employ peptide mass fingerprinting to rapidly identify collagen-containing material in the archaeological record, including fragmented and worked bone, leather, and ivory. We draw on these identifications to examine diverse evolutionary and ecological issues, including human-mediated species extinctions, extirpations, translocations, the spread of domesticated animals, reconstruction of species diversity, and the distribution and dispersal of archaic and extant Homo lineages.

We are recruiting a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Bioinformatics to join our Palaeoproteomics team. We seek an ambitious, highly-motivated, and science-driven scientist to develop bioinformatic-based methods for the analysis of palaeoproteomic data. Successful candidates will undertake their own cutting-edge research in palaeoproteomics and will support bioinformatics training and development within the Palaeoproteomics team. The Postdoctoral Research Fellow will help develop methods and computational approaches to analyse two key types of data produced within the group: 1) LC-MS/MS data from tryptic digested peptides from archaeological residues or ancient dental calculus; and 2) MALDI-TOF-MS data from tryptic digested bone collagen (ZooMS).

While the extraction, identification, and analysis of ancient proteins has emerged as an exciting and high-profile area of new interdisciplinary research, one of the major limits to these methods is the lack of bioinformatic methods that have been developed to address the challenges of palaeoproteomic data. The applicant will be offered the opportunity to work with a large amount of already existing proteomics data, co-develop new projects to produce new data, and drive the field forward by helping to address challenges such as authenticating archaeological proteins in order to push the limits of getting proteins from areas where ancient DNA is not preserved and developing novel processing pipelines using either existing tools or through the development of new tools.

The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History provides a research-focused environment for scholars to develop innovative, world-leading projects. Research Fellows are expected to publish findings in top-tier, international research journals, and to support media interest in their research. The successful applicant will be responsible for independent research and data analyses, supervision, planning, collaborations and outreach. The Research Fellow will join a multidisciplinary, international team of researchers and PhD students, and will be encouraged to work with other researchers in the Department as well as internationally. Applicants from modern proteomics, bioinformatics, and biochemistry backgrounds are encouraged to apply.


We seek a Research Fellow with a passion for cross-disciplinary, team-oriented research, and an ability to work efficiently and complete projects in a timely manner. The successful applicant will have a proven track record of peer-reviewed publication in their relevant discipline and knowledge of protein bioinformatics.

Essential qualifications:

  • Have or about to obtain a PhD in Bioinformatics, Proteomics, Computational Biology, Systems Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Archaeological Science or related natural science discipline
  • A strong record of peer-reviewed publication
  • Proficiency in working with protein bioinformatics tools including at least one of the following programs: MASCOT, Byonic, MaxQuant, TPP, mMass, FlexAnalysis
  • Demonstrated strong programming skills in at least one scripting or programming language (e.g. R, shell scripting, Python, Perl, etc.)
  • An interest in developing and advancing the study of ancient proteins
  • Effective time management skills and ability to efficiently coordinate research analyses through to publication
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills with proficiency in written and oral English
  • Absolute reliability and a strong sense of responsibility
  • Ability to work independently
  • Ability to multi-task, find creative solutions to problems when necessary, and meet tight deadlines.

Our offer

  • A full-time 2-year position (with the possibility of extension based on satisfactory job performance, availability of funds and operational needs) within an exciting, international and diverse professional environment promoted by an open culture and a spirit of community.
  • A lively, friendly, and active working environment within an Institute that hosts a broad variety of projects, workshops, conferences, meetings, speakers and other events.
  • Membership of a Department that prioritises training students and postdoctoral researchers not only in research methods and skills, but in all aspects of academic life, including professional development training to ensure our students and postdoctoral researchers reach their best potential, and are fully prepared for the job market, for applying for funding, and for dealing with the challenges of academic life. The success of this approach is reflected in our placement rates; although we are a young department, we have a strong record of placing postdoctoral researchers in tenure-track and other academic positions.
  • A flexible start date, though we ideally aim to fill the position as soon as possible.

The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History is located in the university town of Jena, situated in the heart of Europe. The second largest city in Thuringia, Jena is a centre of education and research, and home to one of Germany’s oldest universities as well as several other Max Planck institutes and research centres. The Institute’s facilities are set in the environment of a clean, green city set within the Saale river valley. Public transit links to nearby towns, including the UNESCO-listed cultural centre of Weimar, are excellent. Jena is ranked amongst Germany’s most family-friendly cities.

The Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History offers flexible work hours and terms of employment that promote in as far as possible employee work-life balance. Education and training are also provided based on employee needs. The Institute assists incoming staff members and their families in settling in their new location.


The Max Planck Society is committed to employing more individuals with disabilities and especially encourages them to apply. The Max Planck Society also seeks to increase the number of women in the sciences and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply. We are committed to encouraging diversity and actively challenging biases based on gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and other components of identity.

To apply, please submit by 1 May 2020 a cover letter outlining your motivation for applying for the position, a Research Statement indicating your experience and interests with respect to protein bioinformatics (2 pages maximum, not including references and figures), your CV, and your undergraduate, Master’s and PhD transcripts. Three referees should also submit reports by the deadline and it is the candidate’s responsibility to request these. They should be submitted through the application portal. Applications without a cover letter, a Research Statement and at least 2 reference letters will not be considered.

Submissions will only be accepted if they are sent through the online application portal and are received in full by 1 May 2020.

If you have any questions about the application process, please contact For questions about the research and position, please contact Professor Nicole Boivin ( and/or Dr. Kristine Korzow Richter (

Please apply via recruiter’s website.