The Max Planck Fellowship Program

The Max Planck Society has established a fellowship program for foreign post-doctoral researchers. Outstanding non-German scientists are invited to apply and spend up to two years at the Albert Einstein Institute in Potsdam and Hannover.

The Albert Einstein Institute

The Albert Einstein Institute (AEI) offers a stimulating and dynamic research environment with broad opportunities for junior scientists. The institute is one of the world's leading centers for gravitational physics, and it is unique in the breadth and depth of its approach to the subject. Scientists at the AEI focus on all aspects of Einstein's theory of general relativity. Their research ranges from geometrical and analytical aspects of the theory to the unification of general relativity and quantum mechanics all the way to the modeling, data analysis, and astrophysics of gravitational waves. It also covers experimental approaches and techniques required to open a new window to the Universe and to test predictions of general relativity.

General information

Each year the AEI will grant a limited number of Max Planck fellowships to outstanding foreign post-doctoral scientists who wish to spend up to two years at the institute. 

The Max Planck fellowship program offers three different stipends, depending on research track-record and achievements (net monthly stipend of €2,100, €2,300 or €3,000) plus some benefits and moving-cost reimbursements.

Application information

Candidates interested in Max Planck fellowships should fill out a form (which is different depending on the AEI department they plan to be associated to, please see below) and upload a cover letter, curriculum vitae, list of publications, and statement of past, current and future research interests. Electronic Portable Document Format (PDF) submittals are strongly preferred. Applicants would need to indicate the names of three referees for recommendation letters. Referees will be notified by email on how to upload the letters.

The Max Planck Society is committed to increase the number of women and individuals with disabilities in its workforce in areas where they are under-represented. Thus, it encourages applications from such qualified individuals.

Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity Department (Potsdam)

The ACR department, led by Alessandra Buonanno, is composed of about 30 scientists, including three permanent research group leaders, Jonathan Gair, Harald Pfeiffer, Jan Steinhoff, and the five-year research group leader Miguel Zumalacarregui. The department also hosts several long and short-term visitors, and it has ties with the Physics Department at the University of Maryland, the Humboldt University in Berlin, and the University of Potsdam.

The ACR department focuses on several aspects of gravitational-wave physics and astrophysics, including (i) theoretical gravitational dynamics and radiation (effective field theory, post-Newtonian and post-Minkowskian expansions, gravitational self-force approach, perturbation theory and effective-one-body formalism), (ii) numerical relativity, most notably simulations of binary black holes and binary neutron stars, (iii) interpretation and analysis of data from gravitational-wave detectors on the ground (LIGO and Virgo) and in space (LISA), (iv) astrophysics of compact objects, (v) cosmography with gravitational waves from binary systems, (vi) cosmology beyond the standard paradigm (dark energy, dark matter, gravitational lensing), and (vii) tests of cosmological and strong gravity within General Relativity and alternative gravity theories.

Members of the department have the opportunity to join the LIGO Scientific Collaboration through the group’s membership, the LISA Consortium, and also participate to building the science case for third generation (3G) ground-based detectors (Einstein Telescope and Cosmic Explorer).

The ACR department has a high-performance computer cluster, Minerva with ~9,500 cores, and a high-throughput compute cluster, Hypatia with ~8,000 cores. Those clusters are used to run numerical-relativity simulations of gravitational-wave sources, and to carry out source modelling and data-analysis studies for current and future gravitational-wave detectors.

To apply, please fill out this form.

You will be asked to upload a cover letter, curriculum vitae, list of publications and (up to 3-page) statement of past and future research activities. Applicants will need to indicate the names of three referees for recommendation letters. Referees will receive an email with instructions on how to upload their letters. If they encounter problems, referees may also send letters by email to .

For further information please contact Dr. André Schirotzek: .

Computational Relativistic Astrophysics Department (Potsdam)

The CRA department, led by Masaru Shibata, focuses on several research topics in general relativity and relativistic astrophysics, including

(i) numerical relativity with matter, in particular, neutrino-radiation-hydrodynamics, magneto-(radiation-)hydrodynamics, and viscous-radiation-hydrodynamics, for mergers of neutron-star binaries (binary neutron stars and black hole-neutron star binaries), long-term evolution of the merger remnants, and stellar collapse to a black hole and a neutron star,

(ii) modeling of gravitational waves from neutron-star binaries based on numerical-relativity gravitational waveforms,

(iii) modeling of electromagnetic counterparts (macronovae/kilonovae, short gamma-ray bursts, etc.) associated with neutron-star mergers, including the studies of r-process nucleosynthesis,

(iv) studies of the formation processes for a variety of black holes (stellar-mass, intermediate-mass, and supermassive black holes), and gravitational-wave and electromagnetic signals associated with the formation processes,

(v) studies of phenomena associated with supermassive black holes, e.g., tidal disruption of stars by supermassive black holes and emission of gravitational waves by extreme mass-ratio inspirals (EMRIs),

(vi) numerical relativity beyond general relativity.

The CRA department has ties with the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics, Kyoto University.

To apply, please fill out this form.

For further information please contact Matthias Blittersdorf: .

Laser Interferometry and Gravitational Wave Astronomy Department (Hannover)

The final goal of all activities of this department is the detection of gravitational waves and the development of gravitational-wave astronomy. This comprises the development and operation of large gravitational-wave detectors on the ground as well as in space, but also a full range of supporting laboratory experiments in quantum optics, atomic physics, and laser physics.

The department operates the GEO600 gravitational wave detector in cooperation with UK partners in Glasgow and Cardiff. The GEO collaboration is a world leader in gravitational-wave detector technology development. The laser systems designed for GEO600 are key components in the upgrade of the LIGO gravitational wave detectors in the USA.

The department also operates a 10 m prototype interferometer which provides an ultra-low displacement noise environment, a large scale ultra-high vacuum envelope, a highly stabilized 35 W laser, extensive environmental monitoring, and full digital control infrastructure and data management. The first experiment to be set up in this facility is a Michelson interferometer to explore the standard quantum limit (SQL) of interferometry.

The department plays a leading role in the development of the space-based gravitational wave detector LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna). The current mission design for the ESA L3 mission opportunity is called LISA (LISA). In preparation for LISA, the department has a major role in the LISA Pathfinder mission, which has been launched on December 3, 2015 and has demonstrated the measurement and control systems designed for LISA.

Further, LISA technology is used for Earth observation and will improve future satellite geodesy missions. The department contributes a laser interferometer to fly on the GRACE Follow-On mission launched in 2018 to observe the critical indicators of climate change through changes in Earth's gravitational field.

Applications for positions in this department are accepted at any time throughout the year.

To apply for a Max Planck fellowship in the Laser Interferometry and Gravitational Wave Astronomy Department please go to this dedicated web-page.

If you need more information please contact

Observational Relativity and Cosmology Department (Hannover)

Research in this department is focused on the direct observational consequences of Einstein's general theory of relativity, particularly as it relates to astrophysics and cosmology.

The research focuses primarily on searches for gravitational waves in data from the most sensitive ground based interferometric detectors. These include searches for long lived signals from rapidly rotating neutron stars, transient signals from the coalescence of compact objects in binary systems and unmodelled burst signals.

Scientists in the department also search for electromagnetic emissions from neutron stars and have discovered several new radio and gamma-ray pulsars. The group operates the ATLAS computing cluster: with its 40,000 CPU cores and 2,000 GPUs this is the world's largest and most powerful resource dedicated to gravitational wave searches and data analysis. The department also help run the Einstein@Home project, which uses computing power donated by the general public to search for gravitational waves and electromagnetic emission from neutron stars.

Applications for positions in this department are accepted at any time throughout the year.

To apply for a Max Planck fellowship in the Observational Relativity and Cosmology Department please go to this dedicated web-page.

If you need more information please contact

Quantum Gravity and Unified Theories Department (Potsdam)

Research in this department is purely theoretical and brings together some of the most exciting challenges of modern physics and mathematics. The overall goal is the unification of general relativity and quantum mechanics into a theory of quantum gravity, which should also provide a consistent framework for incorporating the other fundamental forces in nature.

A consistent theory of quantum gravity seems to be required to answer questions about the early universe and the nature of black holes. Several candidate theories have been put forward over the last decades. On the one hand, supergravity and super-string theory aim for a unification of gravity with the other fundamental interactions, and have their roots in quantum field theory. The requirement of mathematical consistency and the non-renormalizability of perturbatively quantized gravity, and the need to incorporate the non-gravitational interactions are likely to force us to modify Einstein's theory at the smallest distances. This may lead an entirely new type of theory, which could explain how space-time is dissolved at very small distances, and in which Einstein's theory emerges only as an effective low energy theory. On the other hand, non-pertubative approaches such as loop quantum gravity, spin foams and group field theory proceed from basic principles of General Relativity. These canonical approaches emphasize the geometrical aspects and appear well suited to deal with unsolved conceptual issues of quantum gravity, such as e.g. the problem of time or the interpretation of the wave function of the universe.

As it is far from clear what a consistent theory of quantum gravity will look like and what its main features will be, the department aims to represent all the major current approaches to quantum gravity.

The department Quantum Gravity and Unified Theories is not offering any Max Planck Fellowships at the moment.

If you need more information please contact .

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