FAQs: Lise Meitner Excellence Program

Whom we are looking for / Application procedure / Selection process / Resources

Who is the Lise Meitner Excellence Program (LME) aimed at?

The Lise Meitner Excellence Program has been created for highly talented young women scientists who received their doctorates no more than nine years ago (family breaks are taken into consideration accordingly). The Max-Planck-Gesellschaft has established the program in the hope that it will be able to significantly increase the number of female scientists in management positions. Applicants of all genders are welcome. 

The Lise Meitner Program expressly serves the objective of counteracting an existing under-representation of female scientists in the Max Planck Gesellschaft at the W2 career level. In a legal sense, this Program understands itself as a positive measure in favour of the under-represented gender. Applications by women therefore enjoy priority within the boundaries of what is legally permissible. Any preferential consideration of female scientists is excluded if reasons worthy of legal protection, which lie in the qualification and/or person of another candidate, prevail.

What are the criteria for applications to succeed?

You should be able to provide evidence of initial steps towards scientific independence during the early stages of your career in science, e.g. in the form of independent projects, and be able to show outstanding innovative scientific achievements. You should ideally also have already acquired initial experience as a group leader. Another selection criterion is the thematic fit with a suitable institute. 

Is there an age limit?

There is no age limit. You should already have gained some leadership experience as a talented young scientist and ideally not have completed your doctorate more than nine years ago at the time of your application to head a Lise Meitner Group, Please provide a detailed description in your cover letter of why you remain eligible for the program if this limit has been exceeded in your specific case. 

How do family breaks affect the postdoctoral period?

The Max-Planck-Gesellschaft expressly welcomes applications from young female scientists who were awarded their doctorates more than nine years ago and haven’t been able to apply sooner as a result of family related breaks. Please set out these times in the cover letter so that they can be considered during the selection process. 

Which documents are required?

Please submit the following documents with your application for the position: 

A cover letter, a curriculum vitae, a list of publications, a one-page summary of scientific achievements, a research statement of max. three pages with current and future research topics, copies of three most important publications, combined in one PDF file.

You are also required to invite two reviewers to upload recommendation letters for you to the application portal and, additionally, to name 3 other scientists at the end of your CV as experts in your research area.

Do the application and the letter of recommendation have to be written in English?

Yes. The selection committees that decide the applications are made up of international members. That is why we are only able to accept applications and letters of recommendation written in English. 

How does the selection process work?

The selection process is centrally coordinated and proceeds through several stages. All submitted applications will initially be screened and examined for the highest criteria of excellence. The option of becoming personally acquainted by invitation from suitable institutes will be available subsequent to the pre-selections made on the basis of the written documents. The remaining candidates will be invited to a symposium where they will be requested to give a presentation and be interviewed for the final round. 

Who are the members of the selection committee?

The Max-Planck-Gesellschaft is divided into three sections: the Biological and Medicine Section, the Chemical Physical Technical Section and the Human Sciences Section. Each section has its own selection committee made up of Max Planck Directors. The Vice President of the respective section will chair the commission during the first stage. This governing body is responsible for pre-selecting the candidates to be invited to the selection symposium. The later selection symposium will then be chaired by the head of the respective section, who will forward recommendations for appointments to the President following the symposium. The final decision for appointments to a group leader position will be taken by the President of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. 

Are Leaders of Minerva Fast Track Groups or Max Planck Research Groups also eligible to submit applications for the LME program?

Yes. Applications from Max Planck Research Group Leaders as well as from Minerva Fast Track Fellows are in principle possible. They must, however, meet the specified criteria. 

How are Lise Meitner Groups resourced?

The Lise Meitner Groups are awarded funds for their own personnel and material resources and may utilize the infrastructure that is available at the corresponding Max Planck Institute. As leader of a Lise Meitner Group, you will be able to employ the approved resources in accordance with your own needs and projects.

What are the prospects for subsequent career development?

Participation in a W2 Tenure Track procedure is guaranteed after four to five years at the latest. Successful applicants will be awarded the W2 position and the management of the research group for an unlimited period of time if the evaluation results are positive. The program hopes to develop the selected candidates so that they can become Max Planck Directors. That means that, as the leader of a Lise Meitner Group, you will be included in the section lists for possible W3 positions. 

Am I also entitled to submit applications to other research organizations at the same time as I am making my application to the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft?

Yes. It would, however, be much appreciated by the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft if you were to inform them of any such applications. 

How should my ‘Current and Future Research Plan’ be structured?

The Current and Future Research Plan should be divided into two parts: the first part (Current main achievements, one page) should present a brief and concise overview of your research and what you have achieved to date; the second part (Future Research Plan, max. two pages) should outline your hypotheses and plans for the new project. Please include any preparatory work that has already been carried out to this end in the description. The Current and Future Research Plan should not exceed a maximum of three pages in overall length. 

Will I be able to re-apply after a previous rejection?

Yes, you may submit a new application in the following year. You will, however, receive no information about expert opinions or other feedback from the initial application, even on request. 

Are there formal criteria as to how the documents must be laid out?

There are no strict formal criteria that apply to the application documents. The only mandatory requirement: The documents must be written in English (please also refer to: ‘Do the application and the letter of recommendation have to be written in English?’).
A note about the publication list: only publications that have been published or accepted for publication (‘accepted’ / ‘in press’) will be considered. Publications that have to date only been submitted for publication must be clearly identified as such.
Please refer to ´How should my ‘Future Research Plan be structured?’ for further details about the ‘Future Research Statement’. 

Is the LME program only open to scientists from Germany?

No. The Max-Planck-Gesellschaft is looking for the best and most motivated and talented female scientists worldwide. That is why submissions both from national and international applicants for the Lise Meitner Excellence Program are equally welcome.

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