Premiere for the “Max Planck@TUM” alliance: The Max Planck Society (MPG) and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have appointed seven outstanding scientists as leaders of Max Planck Research Groups and tenure track professors at TUM. This model has set into motion a development in Germany that finds enormous resonance in the international sphere owing to its specific focus on top talent at the interface between university and non-university scientific career paths. The next call for applications is currently online.
The features that characterize this new partnership model between Max Planck Society and Technical University of Munich comprise: independence that favors distinct research concepts from the outset of the career path, high performance expectations, excellent laboratory facilities, and interdisciplinary exchange with experienced colleagues.
The concept involves young scientists selected by the MPG from an international pool of applicants to lead Max Planck Research Groups. Successful candidates are subsequently appointed by TUM to temporary tenure track professorships in a synchronized process. This results in a double membership leading to integration into both institutions. After six years, appointees are given the chance to be promoted to the position of associate professor with the option of continued advancement to full professorship.
Five female scientists and two male scientists are the first to be called and appointed to “Max Planck@TUM”:
- Dr. Karl Duderstadt: Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (Martinsried), TUM Professorship of Experimental Biophysics; previously: Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials, University of Groningen (Netherlands)
- Dr. Julijana Gjorgjieva: Max Planck Institute for Brain Research (Frankfurt), TUM Professorship of Computational Neuroscience; previously: Brandeis University (USA)
- Dr. Andreas Grüneis: Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research (Stuttgart), TUM Professorship of Condensed Matter Physics and Quantum Chemistry; previously: University of Vienna (Austria)
- Dr. Elena Hassinger: Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids (Dresden), TUM Professorship of Quantum Matter - Experimental Solid State Physics; previously: Université de Sherbrooke, Quebec (Canada)
- Dr. Susanne Mertens: Max Planck Institute for Physics (Munich), TUM Professorship of Dark Matter; previously: University of California at Berkeley (USA)
- Dr. Sherry Suyu: Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (Garching), TUM Professorship of Observational Cosmology; previously: Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics (Taiwan)
- Dr. Barbara Treutlein: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig), TUM Professorship of Single Cell Genomics; previously: Stanford University (USA)
Early independence and real opportunities for advancement
For TUM President Prof. Wolfgang A. Herrmann, the pros for both partners are obvious: “This concept makes Germany a more attractive research location for young scientists and, at the same time, strengthens the alliance between MPG and TUM. An early level of independence in an excellent research field is combined with real career prospects. The approach goes beyond the international model for best practices, because it also takes effect across the borders of institutions with the highest scientific level.”
President of the Max Planck Society, Prof. Martin Stratmann, sees the alliance as a forward-looking expansion of the successful Max Planck Research Groups, where outstanding young scientists have been given the opportunity to lead their own research group at a Max Planck Institute for a limited period of time since 1969. “This present combination of scientifically independent activity while leading a Max Planck Research Group at one of over 80 Max Planck institutes with the option of a permanent chair at an excellent university, is currently unique. In that way our new cooperation is a real asset for Germany as a research hotspot in the contest to attract outstanding young scientists from all over the world.”
Appointments from the best institutions
In 2012, TUM was the first German university to establish a systematic tenure track system in line with international standards. This system means that promotion to the position of a permanent professorship with an increased salary is mapped out for all assistant professors after six years, provided they overcome challenging performance hurdles.
In line with this strictly regulated procedure, TUM has appointed more than 70 professors since 2012, half of which came from institutions abroad, including the universities of Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, Cambridge, and Zurich, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). By 2020, TUM wants to create 100 of these new tenure track professorships. In addition, some 30 percent of chairs becoming vacant will be filled using the tenure track method.