PhD studies

PhD program

We work in a highly interdisciplinary field at the intersection of Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Physics, and Biology. Our group offers unique opportunities for Ph.D. students who wish to gain insight into different fields of computational science and acquire cross-disciplinary communication skills, while focusing on challenging and complex problems in computational methods and algorithms for image-based systems biology.

Our close collaborations with groups in many other areas provide stimulating knowledge transfer and create the possibility to develop state-of-the-art computational tools. This allows our Ph.D. students to learn about the potential, limitations, and caveats of real-world applications, leading to a better understanding and assessment of computational methods and their practical application.

We define a Ph.D. as an independent and original contribution to science. We expect Ph.D. students to develop original, creative ideas, which usually emerge from the trans-disciplinary interactions within our group and with other groups. We provide a personalized balance between freedom and guidance in order to support every young scientist in the group to fully exploit the potential of her/his idea and hence build a basis for her/his future career. Graduates should be able to leave the group proudly saying and feeling: "I am the one who did ...."

How to apply / enroll?

If you are interested in doing a PhD with us, you have to apply through the International Max Planck Research School in Cell, Developmental and Systems Biology (IMPRS-CellDevoSys). All applications for Ph.D. in our group have to go through the IMPRS-CellDevoSys. We will not handle any direct applications. You can submit your application online at There is one cycle per year; please check the IMPRS-CellDevoSys page for further information. If you are interested in joining us in-between cycles and bridge the time until the next admission round, please contact me for nomination in our Predoctoral Guests Program. The program is competitive and all applications are reviewed by a central admissions committee onto which our group has no influence. If accepted, all PhD students get full scholarship in our program.

The MOSAIC Group exclusively invites applications in the area of computational biology from students with a background in computer science, computational science, mathematics, applied mathematics, physics, or engineering. Ph.D. degrees can be awarded in any of these disciplines, but preferably in Computer Science or Mathematics.

A note on the difference between European and US PhD programs: In Europe, students enter a Ph.D. program after having completed their Master's degree in a university. The Max Planck Institute is a pure research institute and not a degree-granting institution. You can hence not do a Master here, but first have to complete it in a university. Students with only a Bachelor's degree are usually not admitted into Ph.D. studies, unless exceptional circumstances can be claimed. The duration of Ph.D. studies in Europe is 3 to 4 years with no (or very limited) course-work. Students are expected to have completed their course-work already during their Master studies. There is no tuition fee for Ph.D. studies, and all Ph.D. students in our program receive full scholarship plus a regular academic salary to comfortably cover their living expenses.