20.02.2020 - 20:07
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Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture

Deutscher Platz 6
04103 Leipzig

phone: +49 (0)341 3550 - 315
fax: +49 (0)341 3550 - 333

e-mail: cissewski@eva.mpg.de

Positions available

PhD student position on cultural evolution and reproduction

The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology unites scientists with various backgrounds (natural sciences and humanities) whose aim is to investigate the history of humankind from an interdisciplinary perspective with the help of comparative analyses of genes, cultures, cognitive abilities, languages and social systems of past and present human populations as well as those of primates closely related to human beings.

PhD student position on cultural evolution and reproduction

The BirthRites independent research group, based in the Department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, is seeking qualified applicants for a fully funded three-year doctoral project on cultural evolution and reproduction in rural Poland. The project includes: statistical analysis of existing demographic and anthropological data from multiple communities in Poland, design and implementation of new field research in the study population, and/or theoretical models of structural and cultural transmission dynamics related to reproduction and/or demographic transition drawing on empirical data.


The BirthRites research group (started: December 2019) focuses on the anthropology of reproduction and its implications for evolution and demography. The group aims to draw together research practices from across the humanities and social sciences, and involves the combination of micro-level field research, comparative analysis, theoretical modeling, ethnographic and conceptual approaches to reproduction.

The overarching aims of the project are: (1) to better understand the relationship between culture and reproduction in the past, present and future; (2) to develop and test theoretical models grounded in the field of cultural evolution; and (3) to improve collaboration between the humanities and sciences.


The main aim of this project is to develop empirical and theoretical insights on the dynamics of reproduction and the demographic transition to low fertility in a rural agricultural population in Poland, making use of best practices in Open Science.

Topical foci include but are not limited to: the transmission of contraceptive practices and low fertility within and between communities; the coevolution of social-structural, cultural, economic and demographic change; influences of religiosity, education, kinship networks, cooperation and individual characteristics (including personality) on age at first birth, birth spacing, and completed fertility.

Approaches may include quantitative statistical models, social network analysis, spatial analysis, theoretical and agent-based simulation, generative inference, qualitative and quantitative field research. In addition to their individual research project, the candidate will have opportunities to develop collaborative projects in the department of Human Behavior, Ecology and Culture and to interact with world-class researchers in the fields of human behavior, cultural evolution and anthropology.



- M.A. or M.Sc. in a relevant field with excellent course records at the start of position
- experience working with quantitative data in a research computing context
- excellent communication skills and ability to work with a team
- demonstrated ability to learn new skills


- experience with a research computing language such as R or Python
- knowledge of relevant cultural evolutionary and anthropological theory
- knowledge of literature in demography and/or anthropological demography
- experiences with Poland and/or Polish or Eastern European languages, cultures and history
- willingness to participate in open science practices
- interest in public and community outreach


The doctoral candidate will be fully funded by the BirthRites research group. Salaries are determined according to the German public service pay scale (TVöD).


Please address questions and completed applications electronically to Dr. Heidi Colleran (heidi_colleran@eva.mpg.de). Applications should include:

1. Cover letter describing how you meet the essential and desired requirements, including details of past research projects and relevant experience (not more than 2 pages).
2. Curriculum vitae, including the names of three professional references

All electronic applications received by January 30th 2020 will be considered. Current Masters students finishing in 2020 are also encouraged to apply. Start date is flexible but must be in 2020.

The Max Planck Society wishes to increase the proportion of women in areas in which they are underrepresented; women are therefore explicitly encouraged to apply.

Information on the institute is available at http://www.eva.mpg.de/.

The Max Planck Society is committed to equal opportunities and to employing individuals with disabilities and explicitly encourages them to apply.

We look forward to receiving your completed application .

We look forward to receiving your completed application at https://www.eva.mpg.de/ career .

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Further information on the research agenda of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology is available on our website : www.eva.mpg.de.

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