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Physical mechanisms of the organization of bacterial binary mixtures

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Saturday, February 15, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

The research group of Dr Rémy Colin in the Department of Systems and Synthetic Microbiology at the Max Planck Institute for terrestrial Microbiology , Marburg, Germany invites applications for a PhD student in biological physics to start in mid-2020

Working at the interface of physics and microbiology, our group aims at understanding the physical principles governing the spatiotemporal organization of bacterial populations. The proposed project aims at unraveling the physical mechanisms at play in the organization of bacterial consortia, which are found across many environments from the soil to the animal gut, by studying the physical behavior of heterogeneous binary mixtures of bacterial populations. The student will perform experimental work involving microfluidics and microscopy as well as image and data analysis to understand this out-of-equilibrium complex system. Numerical work might also be carried out upon student interest.

The successful applicants will become a member of either the IMPRS ( or SYNMIKRO ( graduate schools.

The MPI for Terrestrial Microbiology consists of four departments and several department-independent research groups and offers a stimulating, interdisciplinary and international research environment. More information about the institute can be found at Together with the neighbouring Philipps University of Marburg, it forms one of the largest clusters of microbiology research in Europe with facilities for genomics, proteomics, robotics, fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. Interactions are also encouraged with the university’s Department of Physics, which, among other topics, conducts research into biological physics, dynamical systems and quantitative biology.

Requirements and project-specific qualifications

By the time of hire, the student should have obtained a master’s degree or equivalent in biophysics or physics, with ideally a background in soft matter, hydrodynamics, statistical physics or related fields. They will work at the interface of physics and biology in close collaboration with biologists and, although not required, prior experience with biological systems would be a plus. Candidates with a biology master’s degree or equivalent and strong quantitative background will also be considered. Knowledge of signal and image analysis would be an advantage. Broad curiosity and a strong drive to learn challenging techniques will be particularly appreciated. Applicants should additionally have excellent communication, organizational and time-management skills and enjoy working proactively and independently. Good command of spoken and written English is essential.


Applications in English should include a motivation letter, CV, exam results and the names and contact details of academic referees, and be sent as a single pdf by email to: . Applications will be considered until the position is filled. Further information can be found at or by email above.


Colin R., Drescher K. and Sourjik V., Nature Communications (2019) 10, 5329

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