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Max Planck

Max Planck to recruit 20 new directors

Max Planck Institute in Munich

Maximilian Dörrbecker / Wikimedia Commons

The Max Planck Society (MPG) in Germany has started an international selection process to hire 20 new directors for its research institutes. The organization, which conducts basic research in humanities and the natural and life sciences, has published advertisements in scientific journals announcing positions in various fields, from astrophysics to terrestrial microbiology. Founded in 1948, the MPG has an annual budget of €1.8 billion and 23,000 employees, of which 14,000 are researchers, across 84 institutes in Germany and 5 overseas. Eighteen Max Planck researchers have won the Nobel Prize. Each research unit is coordinated by a group of three to five directors who lead large research groups, receive guaranteed funding until retirement, and have full academic freedom. They can even contribute to the design of new laboratories. “You have an incredible liberty to research what you want, even changing your field if you like,” German biologist Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1995 when she was director of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, told the journal Science. The recruitment of new directors is an opportunity to increase female representation in top MPG positions. The number of female directors has risen from just 4.5% in 2005 to 15% today, and the target is to reach 18% by 2020. The MPG estimates it will have to replace two-thirds of its 300 directors by 2030 because many of the current directors are nearing retirement.