The Research Group Olfactory Coding, (headed by Dr. Silke Sachse) and the Insect Behavior Group (headed by Dr. Markus Knaden) in the Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology offer a

3-year PhD position to study
experience-dependent modulation
of olfactory circuits in the brain of Drosophila


The project is funded by the new Research Unit FOR 5424 ‘Modulation of Olfaction’ of the DFG (German Research Foundation) and will be co-supervised by Silke Sachse and Markus Knaden.
During its life an animal is constantly exposed to a plethora of olfactory inputs, many of them being essential for the animal’s survival and reproduction. While certain odours induce an innate and stereotyped behavioral output, odor-based behavioral decisions are largely modulated by physiological state, specific context and previous experience.
However, the neuronal mechanisms underlying this modulation remain largely elusive.

Project description

The goal of this PhD project is to study experience-dependent modulation along the olfactory circuitry. We will employ classical learning paradigms, but also establish novel learning assays that include an ecological relevant context, such as oviposition and mating. Moreover, using 2-photon functional imaging, we aim to elucidate modulation in specific neuronal populations of the olfactory pathway as well as study the underlying neuronal mechanisms using neuro- end optogenetic tools.

Candidate profile

We are looking for a highly motivated and creative candidate with training in neurophysiology or neurogenetics. Experiences with Drosophila research and/or insect behavior is preferred. A master’s degree in Neuroscience, Biology or related discipline is required for this PhD position.

How to apply

The Max-Planck Society is an equal opportunity employer and strives to employ both genders equally, as well as to employ more individuals with disabilities. Therefore, we encourage all applicants, independent of their nationality, gender or disability, to apply for this position. Please send your application as a single pdf in English including a letter of motivation, summarizing your experience and future vision, CV, list of publications and relevant certificates (degree certificates, etc.) and the names of two referees (including email address) to here

The Max Planck Society is one of Europe's leading research organizations and conducts basic research in the natural sciences, life sciences, and humanities. The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena carries out fundamental research on how organisms communicate with each other via chemical signals. We analyze ecological interactions with molecular, chemical and neurobiological techniques. In the Institute, organic chemists, biochemists, ecologists, entomologists, behavioral scientists, insect geneticists and physiologists work in collaboration to unravel the complexity of chemical communication that occurs in nature.

The Max Planck Society and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology are very committed to equal opportunities, diversity as well as gender equality. We actively support a healthy work-life balance compatibility and the compatibility of work and family and have set ourselves the goal of employing more severely disabled people as well as groups that are underrepresented in science and especially in the given field of activity. Therefore, we explicitly encourage them to apply and welcome applications from all backgrounds.

Have we sparked your interest? Please apply. We are looking forward to getting your complete application documents.


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