Michael Cysouw finished his Ph.D. on the Paradigmatic Structure of Person Marking in 2001 at the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands. Afterwards, he worked at the Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS) in Berlin, and from 2004 to 2009 he has been affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Leipzig. Since 2010 he is leading the Research Unit "Quantitative Language Comparison" at the Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) in Munich. In January 2012 he accepted the chair for language typology at the Philipps University Marburg.
His research interests are broad-scale investigations of the world's linguistic diversity, with a particular fondness for unusual structures from a worldwide perspective. He focusses not only on the content of linguistic diversity, but also on the methodological aspects of doing cross-linguistic research. In his research, language comparison is taken both as a window into language universals (focussing on aspects on which languages do not differ) as well as historical reconstruction (by interpreting differences between languages as the result of historical processes).