MPI-EVA in Leipzig and MPI-SHH in Jena enter into a major reorganization – Leipzig to be retained as hub for ancient genetics, Jena to create novel research profile
Two successful sister institutes within the Humanities and Social Sciences Section of the Max Planck Society with the common theme of the evolutionary history of humankind – the MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and the MPI for the Science of Human History in Jena – will enter into a major phase of restructuring in the coming years to create optimized research clusters in human biological and cultural evolution at both sites. Several upcoming retirements at the MPI in Leipzig and a partially overlapping research agenda between the two institutes in Leipzig and Jena have led the Max Planck Society to reorganize both in order to stake out a clear vision for the future of the two institutes.
Key to the restructuring endeavour is the move of two departments – the Department of Archaeogenetics led by Johannes Krause, and the Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution led by Russell Gray – from the young Jena institute to the MPI in Leipzig, thus uniting some key aspects of the study of human evolution. In particular, the reappointment of Johannes Krause and the creation of a core facility for ancient DNA, will ensure the continuance of the long-standing tradition and success of paleogenetics in Leipzig beyond Svante Pääbo’s retirement in 2028. The relocation of the two departments to the MPI-EVA will allow new synergies in understanding cultural and biological processes in human evolution.
Exciting developments are also in store for Jena where the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has established a global reputation since its founding in 2014. The re-structuring of the sister institutes will see archaeologist Nicole Boivin build on her department’s successes to create a new institute. Boivin has played a leading role in establishing the value of the past for understanding – and more effectively shaping – the new global era of anthropogenic environmental and climatic change. Her work charts the emergence of humans as a planetary force, and highlights what we can learn from the past to more effectively shape and preserve ecosystems today. The new institute will build on these strengths, thus expanding the synergies with the other two MPIs situated in Jena – the MPI for Biogeochemistry and the MPI for Chemical Ecology – and helping situate the Max Planck Society at the forefront of interdisciplinary research on the Anthropocene.
The efforts of Boivin and the Max Planck Society are now focused on identifying excellent new appointments as part of this novel initiative. New complementary departments will take up residence in the Jena institute beginning in 2022.