An excellently equipped lab at a Max Planck Institute, interinstitutional networking with fellow scientists and defined career prospects at a University of Excellence: the Max Planck Society (MPG) and Technische Universität München (TUM) are launching a program for junior scientists, the likes of which has never been seen in Germany. The two institutions are going to jointly appoint the best-qualified young scientists as Max Planck Research Group Leaders in tenure track assistant professorships at TUM. Subject to positive evaluation, after six years they will move up to a permanent post as Associate Professor at TUM.
At the MPG, outstanding young scientists head Max Planck Research Groups and female scientists can also lead Minerva Research Groups. The Groups are international in structure and run for a fixed term of five years; the Max Planck Research Groups can be extended up to a maximum of nine years based on positive evaluation.
At TUM, outstanding post docs with experience of working abroad can start on the “TUM Faculty Tenure Track” as assistant professors (W2 level). Subject to excellent performance, they are then guaranteed a permanent W3 post as associate professor after six years, with the option to progress to full professor. This appointment and career system with clear criteria for advancement meets international standards; however, TUM’s new career path marks the first time this is being practiced systematically in Germany.
Synergies between university and non-university research
The young researchers will now be able to use the synergies between university and non-university research to best advantage: MPG and TUM are going to be recruiting outstanding young talent with international experience to head Max Planck Research Groups and take up assistant professorships simultaneously. The two partners plan to use this structured appointment and career system to make themselves even more attractive in the fierce international competition for the brightest minds.
“Our young junior scientists come to us from the world’s top research institutions, attracted by the renown of the Max Planck Society and the excellent working conditions at our institutes,” says Prof. Peter Gruss, President of the Max Planck Society. “It would be a great shame to let them leave again. We need to offer them internationally competitive posts in Germany for their next career move.”
Tenure track professors appointed from MIT, Cambridge, and Berkeley
“From the equipping of the labs to the right to confer doctorates and the option of further progression as part of our faculty, we are together presenting an overall package for excellent young scientists that is unique in the research sector in Germany,” explains TUM President Prof. Wolfgang A. Herrmann. “We can only compete with the world’s best if we offer the top people first-class working conditions and clear opportunities for career progression. And in this, MPG and TUM complement each other perfectly.”
Launched in 2012, TUM’s tenure track system sees TUM take the initiative in the cultural change within the German system of appointing professors. Within a very short time its model has proved itself to be extremely attractive to top-class scientists. TUM has so far appointed 24 assistant professors of 11 nationalities between the ages of 29 and 36. The overwhelming majority of them come directly from overseas, from institutions including MIT (USA), Cambridge (GB), Berkeley (USA), and ETH Zurich (CH). The new scientists include numerous award winners who bring, for example, an ERC Starting Grant (EU) or a Heisenberg Fellowship (DFG) with them to TUM as a place where they can rely on future career advancement from the start.
TUM Faculty Tenure Track