What we are interested in?
A strong focus of the group “Mesoscopic Physics of Life” is devoted to the physics of intra-cellular organization and approaches to understand the origin of life. In particular, the aim of the group is to identify and understand the mechanisms underlying the assembly, positioning and aging of organelles, and how protocells could have formed and competed in order to undergo Darwin evolution. To this end, we use concepts from the field of phase transitions, non-equilibrium thermodynamics, and non-linear dynamics, but also develop new approaches to describe these systems. A central challenge is to identify the minimal ingredients to understand the physics underlying these type of out-of-equlibrium systems. This includes one fundamental question when physics meets biology: How much does the living system deviate from the behaviour expected for thermal equilibrium system, or what are the signatures that the system is driven and favors non-equilibrium states? In other words, how much are the intra-cellular organization or the formation of protocells different to the demixing of a vinaigrette, the hardening of a drying gelatin block or the sedimentation of droplets in the gravitational field?
What we offer?
Our group “Mesoscopic Physics of Life” is situated at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (MPIPKS) and the Center for System Biology (CSBD) in Dresden, Germany. We closely collaborate with biologist from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (CBG) in Dresden and and several other experimental group in the field of synthetic chemistry and biophysics (Read more). This collaborative and interdisciplinary environment offers the opportunity to work at the interface between biology, chemistry, computational science and theoretical physics.
Feel free to reach out in the case you find the questions listed above fascinating and are interested to apply to our group. You can join our group as a PhD student or postdoc; we also offer internships as well as Bachelor and Master projects (to read about potential projects, klick here). Successful candidates are offered to get embedded in local but also international collaborations. Candidates are expected to have a strong background in theoretical physics or applied mathematics, in particular in soft matter physics, biophysics or condensed matter physics. Postdocs should hold a PhD in Physics, Biological Physics or Applied Mathematics, or a closely related field and are expected to have a strong track-record of research.
Steps to successfully apply:
To apply please send an inquiry about the research conducted in the Max Planck group “Mesoscopic Physics of Life” to weber[at]pks.mpg(dot)de; please use as subject: "Application to group". Please attach your CV and at least two names of scientists from whom you plan to request reference letters. Moreover, tell us in a few sentences why you find some of our research topics interesting and why you would like to join the environment offered by the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (MPIPKS). We can then meet via skype or in person (at a conference or in Dresden) and discuss potential research projects.
After our meeting postdocs should submit their applications to the visitors program of the MPIPKS. To apply for a PhD position, just follow the instructions described above. To maximally benefit from the large community of researchers in the Dresden area, we recommend the prospect PhD candidates to join our group by applying to the International Max Planck Research School IMPRS-CellDevoSys (please check the upcoming deadline), which is part of the Dresden International PhD programe (DIPP). Internship applications for stays extending over three month should be submitted via the DIPP program; for longer internship periods please contact us. Potential topics of internships can be found here: Internship offers.