Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in the isoTROPIC Research Group (f/m/d)


Job Offer from June 17, 2022

The isoTROPIC Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH), Jena, Germany is pleased to announce a new open vacancy for a postdoctoral researcher position exploring human history in the tropics. The fulltime position will be for a period of up to 3 years and based in Jena, Germany.

The isoTROPIC Research Group is a permanent Max Planck Independent Research Group opened at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in 2022. Headed by Dr. Patrick Roberts, it uses multidisciplinary archaeological, historical, biochemical, palaeoenvironmental, and remote-sensing approaches to address the following questions:

  • When did human interactions with tropical forests begin and how have they varied across space and time?
  • How and when did the actions of different human societies begin to initiate regional and global feedbacks on climates, soils, and biodiversity?
  • How can observations of human history in the tropics help inform our delicate relationship with tropical forests today?

Candidate tasks

The successful candidate will play a central role in the Research Group and its outputs. This call is for an open postdoctoral position and candidates should submit a 3-page proposal (in addition to their CV) that addresses the above questions in line with the facilities and methodologies utilised within the isoTROPIC group. Candidates should make clear the connection of their planned work with at least one of the three main project areas of the isoTROPIC group:

  1. Deep Human History in the Tropics
  2. Past Human Impacts on the Tropics and Connected Earth Systems
  3. Uniting Tropical Heritage and Future Policy

As part of the isoTROPIC group, candidates will build on a long history of Germany-based scientific exploration of the tropics. Today, the isoTROPIC group sits at the nexus of three Max Planck Institutes in Jena, and has close connections to the Deutsches Geoforschungszentrum, Potsdam and University of Cologne, institutions all united by an interest in tropical pasts, presents, and futures. Candidates will have opportunities to work with other Independent Groups and the Department of Archaeology at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, as well as a series of international partners.

Candidate qualifications

The ideal applicant will have a strong background in Archaeological Science, Geology, Geography, Ecology, Environmental Archaeology, Earth Sciences, or Remote Sensing or a strong track record of exploration of tropical human history. In-depth practical experience of at least one of the methodologies and facilities available within the isoTROPIC group and the MPI-SHH more widely (archaeological excavation, zooarchaeology, stable isotope analysis, LiDAR remote sensing, palaeoenvironmental coring and analysis, earth systems modelling) is also essential.

Other prerequisites include evidence of strong oral and written communication skills, including a high-quality publication record. Willingness to work as part of a team, travel to field sites in the tropics for extended periods of time, and the ability to complete tasks in a timely and structured fashion are also necessities.


  • PhD in Archaeological Science, Geology, Geography, Ecology, Environmental Archaeology, Earth Sciences, Remote Sensing or a similar discipline
  • Hands on, practical experience exploring human history in the tropics from an archaeological or palaeoenvironmental perspective
  • Practical and theoretical experience with at least one of the methods being applied by the isoTROPIC group (archaeological excavation, stable isotope analysis, LiDAR remote sensing, palaeoenvironmental coring and analysis, earth systems modelling)
  • Experience in working in the field for extended periods of time.


  • A track record of archaeological, palaeoenvironmental, remote sensing, or modelling experience in the tropics
  • Experience with archaeological, historical, remote sensing, or palaeoenvironmental datasets
  • Experience in linking records of past human-environment interactions to contemporary challenges
  • Experience in leading and coordinating fieldwork teams and post-fieldwork analysis
  • Outreach skills in the context of communicating heritage or palaeonvironmental data to a non-academic interest group audience

What we offer

The position offers a unique opportunity to develop cutting edge research in the city of Jena that is renowned for its position at the intersection of Biogeochemical, Ecological, and Archaeological research. The Max Planck Society promotes these multidisciplinary connections and this position offers the candidate the possibility of making the most of such networks and to become a leader in novel approaches to the utilization of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental datasets in the tropics.

The position will ideally begin on the 1st of November 2022 though some flexibility in start date is possible. The Max Planck Society is committed to employing more individuals with disabilities and especially encourages them to apply. We are also committed to encouraging diversity and actively challenging biases based on gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and other components of identity.

The Max Planck Society is supporting the compatibility of family and career and is certified according to the "berufundfamilie" (“job and family”) audit.

Renumeration will follow the public service pay scale (TVöD), according to the candidate’s qualifications and experience up to paygroup 13. In addition, social benefits are offered as per the regulations of the German Civil Service, f.e. occupational pension and subsidies for public transport.

Your application

Please submit your application (which should include a cover letter, a 3-page project proposal, CV of no more than 3 pages, list of publications with a maximum of 10 relating to the topic, and any relevant certificates) by August the 31st. You are also required to submit three references which are also due by August the 31st. Please submit your application as a single pdf file in English using our application tool

For further information, please contact Dr. Patrick Roberts.

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