Independent Research Groups

This page provides an overview of both Max Planck-funded and externally-funded research groups. Click on a group to learn more.

DogStudies was established in 2016 to experimentally study the domestic dog (Canis familiaris). Dogs provide a very interesting model for investigating the evolution of cognitive processes and for understanding the process of domestication. The fact that dogs have been living with humans for at least 15,000 years may have led to the selection of cognitive abilities by humans, or even the co-evolution of dogs’ cognitive abilities with those of humans. We know already that dogs have developed unique skills in the communicative domain. We are now particularly interested in how dogs and humans cooperate with each other and how this has developed during evolution.    [more]
One of the most critically needed research themes at hand is the study of organismal domestication and the broader process of anthropogenic evolution. As humanity pushes all life on Earth into the modern anthropogenic era, a period sometimes called the Anthropocene, all organisms are forced to evolve and adapt or go extinct. The processes of humans driving the evolution of the plants and animals around them is not exclusive to the modern world; humans have been directing aspects of evolution for millennia, and the members of this research team seek to better understand the deep history of this anthropogenic evolution. [more]
The Extreme Events Research Group (EXT) is an intersectional research group exploring the definition, detection and impacts of extreme events. The group is physically based at the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology but works with all three Jena Max Planck Institutes (the other two being the MPI for Chemical Ecology and the MPI for Biogeochemistry). [more]
Many of the fruits, nuts, and grains on your dinner table once spread across the ancient world along the legendary trade routes that we colloquially refer to as the Silk Road. By studying the plants of the ancient Silk Road, we are studying the history of our food – the greatest artifacts of the ancient Silk Road are in your kitchen. [more]
Douka and her team have been awarded an ERC Starting Grant to search for human fossils, particularly Denisovans. [more]
The world is currently facing a dual crisis involving biodiversity and climate, posing the greatest challenge to the continuation of human life on Earth. Confronting this crisis demands public support, political will, and scientific solutions across social, technological, and predictive realms. Our team contributes to this critical theme by exploring deep-time human-environment relationships to derive lessons for the present. [more]
isoTROPIC is a permanent Max Planck Independent Research Group opened at the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology in 2022. It is a research centre focused on using insights about the history of our species from across the global tropics (Greek iso = ‘equal’) to help practically inform conservation concerns and planning in the present. [more]
The Language and the Anthropocene research group is the successor to the former Eurasia3angle Group, headed by Martine Robbeets at the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology. The group works on late human prehistory, integrating archaeological, genetic and linguistic evidence to reconstruct various aspects of human evolution and culture. Special focus is on the languages of North and East Asia, the Transeurasian languages in particular.  [more]
Independent Max Planck Research Group, 2018-2023 [more]
tide is a Max Planck Independent Research Group started in June 2018. The group is headed by Denise Kühnert. [more]
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