Postdoc/Staff Scientist in Neurophysiology of Decision-Making

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Dependent on experience
May 03, 2021
Jul 02, 2021
Position Type
Full Time

The job duties (100%) in this project involve measuring and manipulating the activity of cortico-striato-thalamic circuits involved in complex decision-making, and specifically in governing the balance between flexible and rigid decision styles. Tools to be employed (and on which we can train you) include:

  • Novel silicon probes (Neuropixels, UCLA) for recording hundreds of simultaneous channels across multiple cortical/ striatal circuits
  • Optogenetic and electrical real-time perturbations, including interventions directly related to clinical deep brain stimulation.
  • Innovative behavioral assays and parametric computational modeling of behavior to identify the underlying circuit computations.

The work has direct relevance to new treatments for obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, and depression, among other illnesses.

The majority of this position’s work will be with animals (rats), but we are a translational lab that also does human/clinical work, and you may be involved in preliminary human translation if that is of interest. Depending on your interests, there may also be opportunities/exposure to:

  • Medical device development and commercialization
  • Neural simulation and modeling paradigms
  • The clinical neurobiology of mental illness

This position can be either a postdoc or a staff researcher position depending on your career stage and goals. For a candidate with less experience or if you are certain that you want a short-term experience leading to a PI-level job, we would appoint you as a postdoc. The emphasis would be preparing you to be successful in the future as an independent researcher and planning to move on after about 3-4 years. There would be a strong emphasis on submitting competitive applications for fellowships and other grants on the pathway to independence.

Alternately, for a candidate with more experience who is certain he/she does not want a faculty role, we have a staff scientist track. This is meant to be a long-term (5-10 years, maybe more) position within the lab, leading projects and training junior researchers.

Please indicate in your cover letter/application materials if you have a strong sense of which of these tracks better fits your needs.

You must have:

  • A doctoral degree in a relevant field. "Relevant" is very broad. Scholars from neuroscience, biomedical engineering, psychology, physics, computer science, and many other disciplines have thrived in our team.
  • A strong command of and interest in decision science, evidenced by prior research in this general area.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills. Much of our work requires explaining complex technical concepts to non-domain-experts.
  • Substantial (and documented/proven) capability for independent work, problem-solving, and initiative-taking.
  • Interpersonal skills appropriate for collaboration in a very multidisciplinary and highly diverse environment.

It will be helpful (and we will give your application priority) if you have:

  • Prior experimental work in animal or human neuroscience, especially electrophysiology in any species
  • Any prior work in mathematical models of decision-making
  • Prior work with psychiatric patient populations or the biological mechanisms of mental illness
  • Skills with electronics or computer hardware, whether design or repair
  • Experience with brain-computer interfaces and/or brain decoding paradigms

Performing the job duties will require:

  • Standing or sitting for extended periods
  • Performing fine motor tasks under visual guidance
  • Independent analysis and interpretation of technical data
  • Complex technical communication in the English language
  • Professional interactions with a diverse body of colleagues and research participants
  • Acquisition and maintenance of all necessary requirements (e.g., background checks, immunizations, institutional trainings) for work with animal subjects, particularly outbred rats.

Our opportunities are open to researchers of any nationality. We will happily sponsor a visa, but please tell us up front about your needs and current status.

We are similarly very interested in hearing from researchers from non-traditional or underrepresented backgrounds, and who may not have had all of the exposures/training mentioned above, but who are eager to learn new skills. The UMN neuroscience community is committed to reversing historical inequities, and you will find a welcoming and supportive community here, recent events in the news notwithstanding.

To apply, please send a single PDF of cover letter (with clear statement of relevant background/interests), CV including publication list, and contact information for up to three references to Alik Widge, MD, PhD at . Please do this in addition to uploading the same in this online system; they will not reach me directly unless emailed directly.

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