Research assistant for behavioural and ecological data collection

The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology unites scientists with various backgrounds (natural sciences and humanities) whose aim is to investigate the history of humankind from an interdisciplinary perspective with the help of comparative analyses of genes, cultures, cognitive abilities, languages and social systems of past and present human populations as well as those of primates closely related to human beings.

We are seeking a research assistant for behavioural and ecological data collection at two savanna-woodland sites in West Africa: Sangaredi, Guinea and Boé, Guinea-Bissau. The candidate will assist the PI (Dr. Ammie Kalan) with field data collection to investigate a newly described behaviour in wild chimpanzees termed accumulative stone throwing. The aim of the project is to quantify and describe the local availability of raw materials, rocks and trees, and to use camera traps and audio recorders at targeted sites to record chimpanzees. The major work will consist of an initial recce survey at each site, approximately 50 kilometers, and detailed standardized methodology at each stone throwing tree found, including weighing and counting stones, taking detailed photographs, assessing tree features and installing and maintaining camera traps and audio recording devices. Additionally the assistant will aid the PI with conducting sound experiments at stone throwing sites. Work duties also include entering and sorting relevant field data onto a computer.

The sites are located in extremely remote areas, with no running water, electricity or internet. The successful applicant will be camping at the sites with the PI for 3 months and will spend the remaining 3 months at the Boé, Guinea-Bissau site with a team of local assistants. Only solar power will be available in the field.


Essential requirements are: (1) field experience, preferably in an African country, (2) above average physical fitness, (3) above average resistance to social/psychological stress, (4) practical and technical skills required to navigate and camp in remote areas, and (5) fluent in either Portugese and/or French. Candidates must be able to work independently and as part of a team, must have a strong motivation to take on responsibility, and tolerance to local customs and practices. Please note applicants with a valid driver’s license and experience driving an off road vehicle in remote landscapes will be preferred.

STIPEND: 300 Euro/month


  • Food (not when in cities/towns)
  • Lodging (in tents) at the field sites and basic hotels in towns
  • Contribution of up to 1000 Euro towards a return flight to Conakry, Guinea from Leipzig, Germany (reimbursement ONLY after successful completion of a 6 months term of appointment)
  • Expenses for Visas in both countries (reimbursement ONLY after successful completion of a 6 months term of appointment)

*Please note that expenses for personal equipment and travel health insurance will not be covered by the project.

TERM OF APPOINTMENT: Six months starting January 2017

Interested applicants should send their CV along with details for at least two references via email to Dr. Ammie Kalan (ammie_kalan[>>> Please replace the brackets with an AT sign! <<<]

The Max Planck Society is committed to equal opportunities and to employing individuals with disabilities and explicitly encourages them to apply.

We look forward to receiving your completed application.

You may print the job advert using this link.

Further information on the research agenda of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology is available on our website: