PhDs and scientists at their annual retreat meeting

Doctoral Students

Working at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology

Being a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (MPIO) means being a PhD student in one of Germany's largest and worldwide renowned research societies. The emphasis lies on the word research, meaning that you are not - or only very little - involved in teaching.

Besides time, PhD students at the MPIO are provided with the necessary resources (monetary, intellectual and social) it takes to perform top research. A huge team of highly qualified non-scientific staff like animal care takers, technical assistants, mechanics, carpenters and technicians assist with all the time consuming work involved in research. Their invaluable contribution to the design and conduction of experiments as well as the development of tools, traps and devices that are needed in science makes research at the MPIO fast and precise and sets a high standard in scientific work. That above all gives you the space to focus on your hypotheses and the data your experiments produce.

The International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) in collaboration with the University of Konstanz allows PhD students of the MPIO to attend lectures, seminars and courses. In addition, PhD students get the opportunity to attend summer schools, workshops and courses offered at e.g. Universities in other countries. They are welcome to join talks, discussions and dinners to meet scientists from all over the world that are invited to the institute. Furthermore, PhD students of the MPIO are encouraged to attend major and/or small international conferences to present their own data to other scientists, meet people and discuss hypotheses, explanations or even future collaborations.

That brings us to another major advantage of doing your PhD at the MPIO: the working language is English. Since there are scientific and non-scientific people from all over the world working at the institute, frequently, interaction takes place in English.

Seewiesen is in a very remote location and finding an affordable apartment close to the institute can be difficult. Therefore it is possible to apply for an apartment in one of the institute houses that are located in the nearby town Starnberg. The institute guest house provides lodging possibilities for guests up to six month.

PhDs at the institute are paid either on a stipend basis or via contract. All new PhDs at the institute are intended to be integrated into the IMPRS graduate school.


The major task of the representatives is to offer opportunities to optimize the working environment for postgraduates, enabling them to maximize their scientific achievements and to provide a platform for exchange among doctoral students at the institute.

The PhD representatives are the contact persons for PhD student matters from outside and within the institute. They organize regular PhD meetings to enhance the exchange between doctoral students. The representatives stay in contact with the IMPRS coordinator, the works council, the administration and the Directors on topics concerning doctoral student matters. In addition they attend the annual Max Planck PhDnet meeting to keep up with recent society-wide changes.

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