Diverse opportunities for diverse candidates
Independent Research Group Leader Positions
Motivated early career researchers with a PhD can receive financial support to start a research group at a Max Plank Institute directly from the Max Planck Society. Independent research group leaders (roughly equivalent to Assistant Professors), who head Max Planck research groups are appointed for a period of at least 5 years to a W2 position. Max Planck research groups can be extended twice by two years each after a positive evaluation of the initial 5 year period. Centrally funded research groups are also referred to as open-topic groups because successful candidates are granted a competitive start-up package to secure resources and to assemble a team of researchers (PhD students, postdocs, Master students) allowing them to pursue their chosen research. Members of the research group can draw on institute resources, such as collaboration with service departments (free of charge), excellent workshops with highly skilled staff, state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, and are integrated into the active scientific community of the institute and their department.
All scientific discourse at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung is conducted in English, and all administrative communication is provided in German as well as English, so that knowledge of the German language is not required to obtain a faculty position. The salaries of scientific staff members are agreed upon via a collective bargaining agreement and are publicly listed.
Since the Max Planck Institute is not a degree-conferring institution, members of the faculty also commonly hold affiliations with German universities in order to serve as advisors for PhD students. University affiliations are generally established once group leaders have taken up their position at the institute. Candidates interested in establishing an independent research group at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung should reach out via e-mail to the managing director of the institute when, or ideally, in advance of submitting an application to a funding initiative by the Max Planck Society. The call for applications for Max Planck research groups generally takes place every autumn.
Institute Specific Group Leader Positions
In addition to centrally funded research groups, the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung directly provides resources for personnel and equipment to applicants selected to build up research groups at the institute. Institute specific research groups are often closely integrated into the scientific life of a department, and accomplished early career researchers interested in starting a research group should reach out to the director of the department most aligned with their research goals to discuss potential opportunities. While start-up packages and resources are individually negotiated, institute specific group leaders can use the institute resources just like the Max-Planck research group leaders.
Service Group Leader Positions
Since advanced characterization techniques are crucial to catalysis research, the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung has a number of service departments with a dedicated staff. Service departments are led by PhD researchers, who are experts in the area, and often pursue independent research focused around the experimental technique in question. In addition to routine analyses, service group members often collaborate closely with members of different departments to find solutions to challenging characterization problems, making them a focal point of life at the institute. Service group leaders are permanent members of staff, so that job openings are more infrequent, and subject to the evolving demands of the research carried out at the institute.