Scientist position in computational ethology

Scientist Jena
Developmental and Evolutionary Biology & Genetics Immunobiology and Infection Biology & Medicine Behavioral Sciences Neurosciences Physiology Computer Science Microbiology & Ecology
Job Offer from November 26, 2021

Applications are invited for a full-time scientist position in computational ethology at the Max  Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany to work in the Social Behavior group  headed by Dr. Yuko Ulrich.

Your profile

We are looking for a dynamic, creative, and collaborative  scientist to join an interdisciplinary team working at the intersection of behavioral ecology  and evolutionary biology.

Our research focus

The group’s current work is centered on the drivers and consequences of social behavior.  We seek to understand how individual traits, the social environment, and the epidemiological  context shape individual and collective behavior using experimental, computational, and  molecular approaches in an uniquely accessible social insect, the clonal raider ant. This  asexual species produces genetically identical offspring in discrete cohorts, making it  possible to precisely control and replicate the size and composition of colonies in  experiments. For more information about our work, please visit

Project description

The successful candidate will develop and implement computational tools for the study of  social behavior and disease spread in ant colonies. We are therefore looking for a team  member with a strong quantitative background and experience in the acquisition and analysis  of large-scale image-based behavioral data using computational tools.


Experience working on group-living species and designing behavioral assays are a plus. Candidates must have  excellent (written and oral) communication and organizational skills, experience working collaboratively in interdisciplinary teams, and a track record of addressing scientific problems  in an innovative and rigorous manner. Whatever your background, a keen interest in animal  behavior and a positive mindset are a must.


  • Evaluate, select, and adapt existing tools for specific applications
  • Develop and implement custom computational pipelines to analyze (detect, classify,  characterize, quantify) specific individual, social, and collective behaviors in ant colonies Assist lab members in the design and troubleshooting of behavioral experiments
  • Conduct experiments independently
  • If desired, the option to mentor MSc and PhD students is available
  • Communicate results and observations to colleagues in meetings
  • Manage data storage and computational resources for the group


  • A MSc or PhD in computer science, engineering, biology, or related fields
  • Good knowledge of the field of computational ethology (incl. tools and methods)
  • Experience developing and using computational ethology tools (e.g., video-based automated  tracking, pose estimation using deep-learning)
  • Experience analyzing large-scale behavioral datasets to address biological questions
  • Knowledge of at least one major programming language (e.g., Python, MATLAB) Creative problem-solving ability, attention to detail
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team, self-motivation, adaptability

What we offer

The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology provides a thriving, international, and  multidisciplinary research environment, state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, and world class colleagues working on insect chemical ecology, neuroethology, and evolutionary  biology. The working language of the institute is English. For more information, please visit We offer a competitive salary, as well as generous holiday entitlement  and pension scheme. The Max Planck Society is committed to equal opportunities and  diversity ( We welcome qualified applicants from all  backgrounds.

How to apply

To apply, please send your CV, a cover letter (≤ 2 pages) stating why you are applying for  this position and what your proposed research goals are, along with the names and contacts  of 2-3 references as a single PDF to
. Review of applications will  start on January 3, 2022 and will continue until the position is filled. Preferred starting date  is March 2022 but flexible. Informal inquiries about the position can be addressed to Dr. Yuko Ulrich ().

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