Open positions

The research group “Olfactory Coding” headed by Dr. Silke Sachse in the Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology offers a

Postdoctoral position (2y) at the intersection of yeast synthetic biology, neurophysiology and insect behavior.


This postdoc fellowship is part of a collaborative research project between the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology (GER), the Center for Biosustainability (CfB) at the Technical University of Denmark (DEN), and the Research Center on Animal Cognition (FRA). In this interdisciplinary research project, we aim to combine interdisciplinary excellence with yeast synthetic biology, neurophysiology and behavior, as well as collective animal intelligence to develop predictive models for simulating insect behaviour and learning in diverse environments. If you are interested in interdisciplinary research, neurobiology and insect science, and you are motivated by bringing together state-of-the-art expertise devoted to understanding the molecular cues and neuronal signalling underlying insect behaviour, then please apply!

Focus and scope

Insects are essential to maintaining biological diversity and food supply chains, yet planet Earth is experiencing regional crisis both in terms of insect abundance, diversity, and biomass. Importantly, insects form a natural treasure chest for studying animal development, learning, and behaviour, controlled by receptors sensing and responding to the chemical landscape surrounding them as well as the chemical signals inside of them. This project is devoted to gather large data sets to investigate links in receptor signalling (odorant receptors/ neurotransmitters), neuronal activation, and insect behaviour.

Job description

Within this interdisciplinary project, the successful candidate hired at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena (Germany) will be performing neurophysiological experiments to monitor brain activity in the vinegar fly Drosophila melanogaster to diverse chemical and biological cues (2-photon functional imaging of the fly brain, single-sensillum recordings of the fly antenna), using and further developing behavioral assays to study odor-guided behavior in individual and population of flies (T-maze, tethered flight) as well as employing classical associative learning paradigms. Additionally, the candidate will be strongly interacting with the collaboration partners who are building a large-scale database on insect receptors at the Technical University of Denmark, and develop algorithms aimed at modelling and predicting insect behavior and learning at the CRCA in France.

Candidate requirements

  • PhD degree in Biology/Neurobiology or related subject
  • Scientific record with international publications
  • Strong interest in neurobiology, neurophysiology and insect behavior
  • Experience in fly genetics and 2-photon functional imaging
  • Enthusiasm, responsibility, and excellent collaboration skills
  • Strong oral and written skills in English

Salary and terms of employment

Payment will be based on the tariff contracts for the public service in Germany (TVöD Bund). We provide an excellent research environment with enthusiastic scientists from different nationalities at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena ( The job contracts offered to the qualifying candidates will be for 2 years, with the possibility for extension of up to 1 year. Expected starting date: flexible, but preferably Spring 2021.

How to apply

The Max-Planck Society is an equal opportunity employer and strives to employ all genders equally, as well as to employ more individuals with disabilities. Therefore, we encourage all applicants, independent of their nationality, gender or disability, to apply for this position. Please send your application no later than 28th February 2021 as a single pdf in English including a letter of motivation, summarizing your experience and future vision, CV, list of publications and relevant certificates (MSc/PhD) and the names of two referees (including email address) to Dr. Silke Sachse (