Postdoctoral Researcher (m/f/d) | Ape locomotion and substrate dynamics

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

Job Code: FT-04-2024

Job Offer from March 05, 2024

The Department of Human Origins (Director: Dr. Tracy L. Kivell) combines new fossil and archaeological discoveries with an interdisciplinary approach to reconstructing how our fossil relatives interacted with their past environments. Our goal is to uncover the emergence and evolution of the human lineage through fieldwork and analysis, studying the fossils of our early relatives and those of African apes. We aim to reconstruct the key behaviours that define humans by integrating high-resolution imaging, quantitative analyses of anatomy, experimental biomechanics and study of living primates (including humans).

We are seeking for the Department of Human Origins a Postdoctoral Researcher (m/f/d) for ape locomotion and substrate dynamics.

The Biomechanics working group within the Department of Human Origins at MPI-EVA is at the forefront of using experimental biomechanics to explore how the physical environment has influenced the performance, behaviour, and evolution of early hominins, employing extant hominoids as a model.

Position overview

We are inviting applications from qualified and highly motivated individuals for the position of Postdoctoral Researcher. The successful candidate will undertake innovative projects focused on the development of methodologies for analysing locomotion in free-moving apes. This role offers an unparalleled opportunity to advance experimental biomechanics by leveraging the latest in computer vision, machine learning, and open electronics, aiming to unravel the effects of mechanically complex substrates on ape kinematics and kinetics. The position is available from August 2024 or soon as possible thereafter.

Key Responsibilities

  • Designing and conducting experiments
  • Developing new measurement tools for biomechanical analysis
  • Analyzing complex biomechanical data
  • Pursuing independent research questions within the project's framework

This role will primarily involve work with zoo-based apes, with potential opportunities to apply validated techniques to semi-wild and wild populations.

Desired and Required Skills

  • Ph.D. in Biomechanics, Zoology, Biological Anthropology, or a related field
  • M.Sc. and B.Sc. in a research-relevant discipline
  • Strong passion for, and experience in, experimental biomechanics
  • Proficiency in Python coding; familiarity with markerless motion capture systems is a significant advantage

Additional Qualifications

  • Excellent communication and teamwork skills, with an ability to collaborate effectively on interdisciplinary projects
  • A creative and innovative approach to problem-solving

What do we offer you?

  • An excellent, interdisciplinary research environment
  • A contract for an initial period of two years (with the possibility of extension)
  • A competitive salary
  • German language courses are offered (German language skills are not required)
  • Successful candidates will obtain a two-year contract with possibility to extend for another year, in accordance with the federal legal provisions applicable in Germany and the Max Planck Society
  • The agreed working time currently amounts to 39 hours per week (full-time position)

You want to apply?

Interested applicants should apply only via our online recruiting system by 30th April 2024.

Applications should include:

  • Cover letter (max. 2 pages), outlining your previous research experience and current research interests
  • Curriculum vitae with the names and contact information of at least two referees

Contact for questions (no application): 

The Max Planck Society has set itself the goal of employing more severely disabled people. Applications from disabled people are encouraged. The Max Planck Society strives for gender equity and diversity. Furthermore, the Max Planck Society aims to increase the proportion of women in areas where they are underrepresented. Women are therefore expressly encouraged to apply. Finally, we wish to encourage researchers from other underrepresented groups and/or countries to apply.

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