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    Opportunity: Systems / Control Engineer (m/f/div) @ Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research -- Cologne, Germany
    Submitted by Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research; posted on Monday, October 23, 2023

    The Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPIPZ) is one of the world's premier sites for research into fundamental processes in plant biology. Around 400 staff from all over the world work at the institute, which consists of four scientific departments, several independent research groups, and specialist support. The Department of Plant Microbe Interactions at the MPIPZ is a global leader in research that seeks to define the principles as well as consequences of plant interactions with harmful and beneficial microorganisms.

    We are inviting applications for a

    Systems / Control Engineer (m/f/div)


    Human actions are driving rapid changes to the ecological environment at a global scale, reducing bio­diversity by causing extinctions and altering the population sizes of surviving species. This has moti­vated research efforts aimed at a deeper understanding of how natural and anthropo­genic en­viron­mental changes influence biodiversity and impact ecosystem functions. However, current re­se­arch is mainly limited to collection and analysis of observational data and modelling approaches. In the next two years, we will opti­mize an alternative approach to explore the stability and dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems by constructing synthetic ecosystems of increasing complexity, which are amenable to reproducible and controlled perturbation, high-resolution monitoring, and genetic mani­pulation.


    The aim of this project is to optimize a small-scale synthetic ecosystem in gnotobiotic chambers in­spired by naturally occurring terrestrial ecosystems, which will include small communities of plants, microbes (i.e., bacteria, fungi), and small animals (i.e., nematodes). These "eco chambers" were de­si­gned to allow for control of environmental parameters (e.g., light, humidity, temperature, pressure, car­bon dioxide concentration) and real-time monitoring of relevant parameters such as atmosphere composition, plant biomass through imaging approaches, etc. The selected candidate will join a team of researchers with expertise in ecology, molecular biology, and bioinformatics, dedicated to the development and use of these synthetic ecosystems for hypothesis-driven ecological research.


    We seek a creative and motivated candidate with a master's degree in electrical engineering, me­cha­tronics, process engineering, automation engineering, chemical engineering, physical engi­nee­ring, scientific instrumentation, or a comparable qualification. The ideal candidate will be ex­pec­ted to work in an international, multidisciplinary team of scientists and will be able to carry out the following tasks:
    • Development, construction, support, and optimization of experimental setups and sensor technology for ecosystem research
    • Design of equipment for the acquisition and manipulation of ecological processes, together with scientific collaborators
    • Programming of the automation and data transmission of the embedded system devices and installations
    • Supervision of modern gas analysis and environmental measurement technology
    • Servicing of the server platform for data acquisition
    • Organization and implementation of projects in the laboratory and field
    • Documentation of experimental setups
    • Evaluation of measurement data
    • Active participation in scientific discussions, drawing on basic knowledge of biological systems


    This position is available immediately, and the initial contract is for a duration of two years. Salary and social benefits will be in accordance with the regulations of the German TVöD Bund (E 13; Collective Agreement for the Public Service). The successful applicant will join a dedicated research team lead by the head of department, Prof. Dr. Paul Schulze-Lefert, and the group leader, Dr. Ruben Garrido-Oter.

    It is possible to apply for a low-cost Germany job ticket with a subsidy from the Institute. The institute also has a rental bike station run by the provider nextbike, as well as the possibility of using rental scooters from various providers.


    Applicants are requested to submit a motivation letter and CV (in English as a single PDF file) including the names and affiliations of two referees through the online system by November 10th, 2023:


    The Max Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals. Further, the Max Planck Society seeks to increase the percentage of women in those areas where they are under­represented and therefore explicitly encourage female candidates to apply.

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