Postdoctoral researcher (m/f/d) | Modelling linguistic and cultural evolution

Scientist Leipzig
Developmental and Evolutionary Biology & Genetics Behavioral Sciences Cognitive Research

Job Code: LH-04-2023

Job Offer from November 16, 2023

The Comparative Oceanic Linguistics (CoOL) research group in the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution (DLCE) is looking to fill a three-year position in the field of modelling linguistic and cultural evolution.


The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) unites scientists with various backgrounds (natural sciences and humanities) whose aim is to investigate the history of humankind from an interdisciplinary perspective with the help of comparative analyses of genes, cultures, cognitive abilities, languages and social systems of past and present human populations as well as those of primates closely related to human beings.

About DLCE

The Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution aims to answer big picture questions about the evolution of language and culture. Our focus is on describing and explaining the major patterns of linguistic and cultural variation across the globe. We tackle these questions by developing novel language documentation methods, global linguistic and cultural databases, and analyses using evolutionary theories and computational methods.

About “From micro to macro: Agent-based modelling of linguistic and cultural diversification”

While considerable research exists on the ecological and social predictors of linguistic and cultural diversity, explicit mechanistic models are rare. This project will leverage our understanding of the roles of ecological, demographic and social processes in the Pacific to develop agent-based models of the process of linguistic and cultural diversification. Modelling these processes at the micro-level will enable us to infer their impact on large-scale patterns of variation, and thus link the micro to the macro. The successful applicant will be based in the CoOL group (Comparative Oceanic Linguistics group) where they will work as part of an interdisciplinary team studying the impacts of multiple migrations, multilingualism, group identity and language ecologies in shaping linguistic and cultural diversity.

Selection criteria

  • A PhD in anthropology, biology, computer science, linguistics, or psychology
  • Expertise in agent-based modelling
  • Research experience in the field of cultural or linguistic evolution
  • Good statistical / computational skills with a knowledge of python and R
  • Ability to work in interdisciplinary teams
  • Proficiency in both spoken and written English

Our offer

  • Full-time position, starting in the spring of 2024, initially limited to three years
  • Salary based on experience according to the German TVöD
  • According to German labor laws, benefits include 30 days holiday per annum plus Bank Holidays and Christmas closure days as well as an attractive pension proposition
  • An inspiring, international, interdisciplinary environment with leading domain scientists at our department and in various Max Planck Institutes and universities
  • Space, freedom, support and resources to do all the things described above

Your application

Please submit your application in English, including the following:

  • Cover letter, explaining research experience and reason for interest in this project, along with a proposed research project (max. 2 pages).
  • Your CV and copies of degree certificates (Bachelor’s/Master’s/PhD diplomas incl. transcripts)
  • Names and contact information (including e-mail and phone) for 2-3 referees
    [NB. you may compile several PDFs into one for submission]

Please apply online via our application portal. Only complete submissions via this link will be taken into consideration.

Deadline for applications is 15 December, 2023

The Max Planck Society is committed to employing individuals with disabilities and especially encourages them to apply. Additionally, we seek to increase diversity of our workforce in areas where it is underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourage women and members of underrepresented groups to apply.

For queries, please contact:  

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