The department of Food Science and Human Nutrition (FSHN) at Iowa State University is accepting applications for a postdoctoral research associate position in neuroimaging and data mining under the supervision of Dr. Auriel Willette. The position is funded for 2 years. The selected candidate will primarily train and work on NIH- and Alzheimer’s Association-funded research examining the association of sirtuin genotypes on cognitive and neuroimaging outcomes, both in normal aging and across the Alzheimer’s disease spectrum. The researcher is also expected to independently carry out work looking at imaging neurogenomics and biomarker work with neuroimaging and cognitive data in observational cohorts with secondary data available (e.g., ADNI, AIBL, UK Biobank, ROS, etc.).
As a trainee, the successful applicant will be expected to independently conceive and execute multidisciplinary research projects involving secondary data analysis combining neuroimaging, behavior, biomarker, and genetic data. It is expected that the trainee will help manage graduate and undergraduate student data analysis projects in the laboratory. The trainee will, if desired, be able to assist with management of proof-of-concept clinical trials focused on dieting or intranasal insulin to affect brain function and cognitive output in aged adults.
The successful candidate will have access to state-of-art equipment and facilities. The laboratory of the PI (Dr. Auriel Willette) is located in the newly renovated research space in MacKay Hall. The lab is fully equipped with Macintosh and PC machines for pre- and post-processing brain and genetic data. Access to a High Performance Computing array and petabyte storage is guaranteed. The lab is also fully equipped for standard wet lab work (cell culture, IHC, etc.).
The research in Dr. Willette’s lab is broadly focused on how obesity-induced metabolic dysfunction and immunologic activation impacts the aging brain, particularly in Alzheimer’s disease. The long-term goal of his research program is to: 1) understand how different metabolic, immunologic, and nutrition-related genes and biomarkers are related to brain atrophy, hypometabolism, proteinopathies, and other features of aging-related neurological disorders; and 2) gauge how interventions targeting obesity or insulin dysfunction improve these outcomes and cause change in novel biomarkers of interest. These clinical trials are conducted at Iowa State University and with collaborators at the University of Iowa.
His actual projects largely involve “data mining,” where he leverages existing “omics,” ELISA, and GWAS data with MRI and PET data. MRI data includes T1- and FLAIR based volumetrics, DTI tensor maps and tractography, resting state fMRI with ICA, and to a lesser extent task-based fMRI. He also has experience working with 1-dimensional PRESSMRS data. PET data includes FDG, PIB, and AV-45/Florbetapir. Clinical trials work involves neuropsychological testing, blood draws, structural and functional MR acquisitions, and occasionally FDG acquisition. He predominantly uses SPM and command-line AFNI functions, as well as FSL exclusively for fitting tensors and TBSS. Dr. Willette is the imaging core for the ISU-based Big Data Brain Initiative, which partners data analysts with animal researchers to directly translate human to animal work and vice-versa.
Iowa State University is strongly invested in interdisciplinary research and opportunities for collaborative team building are available across various fields, including neuroscience, immunobiology, genetics, bioengineering, cell and molecular biology, computational sciences, and bioinformatics. ISU supports campus-wide collaborative funding to enhance interdisciplinary research excellence in areas of animal and human health, with new opportunities for expanding research in the biomedical sciences. ISU supports excellent research facilities, including BSL-3 research laboratories, experimental animal facilities, cellular and molecular analysis capabilities, metabolomics, flow cytometry, advanced microscopy and imaging, statistics, and bioinformatics. ISU also has a state-of-the-science High Performance Computing array and dedicated staff for conducting large-scale parallel computing. FSHN values student-centered learning and supports and develops high quality educators. The University provides an intellectual environment committed to academic excellence and diversity, and offers mentoring programs for new faculty and staff. The College of Human Sciences, https://www.hs.iastate.edu/, is a highly regarded college for work in nutritional sciences, food science, kinesiology, human development and family studies, gerontology and neuroscience. CHS educates future life sciences leaders, conducts high-impact, mission-oriented research from basic to applied and shares new knowledge for the good of society.
Iowa State University is classified as a Carnegie Foundation Doctoral/Research University-Extensive, a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), and ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top public universities in the nation. More than 36,000 students are enrolled and are served by over 6,200 faculty and staff.
Iowa State University is a global and culturally diverse university committed to providing an inclusive, equitable, and diverse environment for both learning and employment. We know that diversity in experience and perspective is vital to advancing innovation, critical thinking, solving complex problems, and building an inclusive academic community. At Iowa State, we translate these values into action by seeking individuals who have experience working with diverse students, colleagues, and constituents. The university has an expectation that all employees will demonstrate a contribution to diversity and inclusion as embodied in Iowa State University’s Principles of Community.
Ames, Iowa is a progressive community of 60,000, located approximately 30 minutes north of Des Moines, and recently voted one of the best college towns in the nation.
Iowa State University is an equal opportunity employer committed to excellence through diversity and strongly encourages applications from all qualified applicants, including women, underrepresented populations, and veterans. ISU is responsive to the needs of dual career couples, is dedicated to work-life balance through an array of policies, and is an NSFADVANCE institution.
All employees are expected to exhibit and convey good citizenship within the program, the department, college, university activities, collegial interactions, and maintain the highest standards of integrity and ethical behavior.
Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate (e.g., M.D., Sc.D.) in Neuroscience, Psychology, Radiology, Neurology, Psychiatry or related field awarded no more than two (2) years prior to initial date of postdoctoral appointment.
Basic experience with structural and functional neuroimaging and data analytics; published research in peer-reviewed journals; and experience managing students.
Additional Salary Information: Please see the following webpage for salary minimums on post-docs: https://www.grad-college.iastate.edu/post_doc/policies.php#stipend