Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History PhD and Postdoctoral Fellowship 2018, Germany

Publish Date: Nov 23, 2017

PhD and Postdoctoral position: Epidemic dynamics of ancient disease outbreaks

Epidemic dynamics of ancient disease outbreaks

The Transmission, Infection, Diversification & Evolution Group (TIDE) led by Denise Kühnert is offering one PhD and one Postdoctoral position to begin on 01.06.2018.

Many of the major human infectious diseases likely arose after the origins of agriculture. Much of what we know about ancient disease outbreaks in the past has been written down by chroniclers who were present during the time and have often suffered from the disease themselves. There are concerns that these writings may be exaggerated, incomplete or inconsistent. Thanks to the recent advances in ancient genome recovery, we are now in the position to shed light on the dynamics of past disease epidemics by deciphering the ‘footprint’ that past disease outbreaks left on the pathogens’ genomes. Understanding the origins and demographic dynamics of ancient pathogens may facilitate a broader understanding of disease emergence.

Your tasks:

  • Phylogenetic analysis of ancient pathogen genomes in close collaboration with the Department of Archaeogenetics (DAG), led by Professor Dr. Johannes Krause.
  • Revision and adaptation of methods used for estimation of divergence times and evolutionary substitution rates of ancient pathogens.
  • Bayesian (if suitable) phylodynamic analysis of ancient disease outbreaks, based on whole-genome sequences from the DAG. Development of statistical tools for inference of epidemiological parameters from ancient disease outbreaks.

Your qualifications:

  • PhD position:
    • Master or equivalent in a quantitative discipline such as Computational Biology, Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, Physics.
  • Postdoc position:
    • Have or are about to obtain a PhD degree in a quantitative discipline such as Computational Biology, Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, Physics.
    • Experience analyzing genomic data employing phylogenetic methods
    • Strong research record
  • Both:
    • Strong interest in infectious disease dynamics
    • Experience in programming
    • Proficient English skills

The overarching goal of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History is to explore the history of humans using state-of-the-art analytical methods. Scientists from different disciplines, such as genetics, linguistics, archaeology, anthropology, and history are working together to answer fundamental questions about the biological and cultural evolution of man from the paleolithic until today, and they jointly develop innovative methods, in particular in the areas of genome sequencing, language documentation, bioinformatics, and phylogeography.

We offer an interesting and responsible job in a competitive, dynamic and stimulating international research environment. The Postdoc position is for 2 years with the possibility of extension. Remuneration will follow the public service pay scale (TVöD), according to qualification and experience. In addition, social benefits are paid according to the regulations of the Civil Service. The PhD position is for 3 years and paid with 50% of E13 TVöD under a Max Planck PhD contract.

The Max Planck Society is committed to employing more handicapped individuals and especially encourages them to apply. The Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.

Your application:

Please submit your application to Candidates are requested to submit the application in English as a single pdf file including a Cover letter (explaining research experience and reason for interest in this project), curriculum vitae, a list of publications, copies of certificates, and names and contact information (email and phone) for up to three referees.

This opportunity has expired. It was originally available here:

Similar Opportunities



Computer Engineering

Computer Sciences



Study Levels



Opportunity Types


Eligible Countries


Host Countries