This job has expired

Senior Staff Associate II (in Optical Engineering)

Columbia University - Zuckerman Institute
New York City, New York
$105,000 - $125,000
Closing date
Dec 8, 2023

Columbia University's Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute brings together world-class scientists across academic disciplines conducting pioneering research to transform our understanding of how the brain works – and gives rise to mind and behavior. The Institute fosters a collaborative and inclusive environment across 50+ labs, advancing insights into human health by exploring how the brain develops, performs, endures, and recovers.

At the Zuckerman Institute, we are committed to becoming a more inclusive, equitable, and diverse place of scientific discovery and supporting a culture of respect. Promoting diversity in science will help drive the transformative science that can change the world. 

Situated in the Jerome L. Greene Science Center on Columbia’s Manhattanville campus, the state-of-the-art building offers an environment where the highest level of scholarly scientific research takes place on a daily basis, with the benefit of being located in the heart of New York, one of the world’s most vibrant and culturally rich cities.

Are you interested in bringing your expertise in optical engineering to apply advanced imaging technologies to study how neural networks in the brain support learning and memory? The Losonczy, and Polleux laboratories and the Zuckerman Institute (Darcy Peterka, Director of Team Science and Scientific Director of Cellular Imaging) at the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute of Columbia University have an opening for a full-time Senior Staff Associate II in optical systems engineering. The successful candidate will critically contribute to designing, building, deploying, optimizing, and maintaining state-of-the-art multi-photon and other microscopy systems for recording and manipulating neuronal activity. Our groups have been at the forefront of developing and implementing cutting-edge experimental and analytical approaches to study the anatomical, molecular, developmental, and functional organization of cortical circuits supporting sensory-motor processing, navigation, and learning1-6. The successful applicant will assist with neurophysiological research studying the organization and function of neural circuits in the mammalian brain with advanced optical methods.

Key responsibilities:

  • Maintenance of high-speed and large-scale multi-photon optical systems (microscopes, ultra-fast lasers, software) for recording and manipulation of neuronal activity
  • Redesign and optimization of existing optical platforms (hardware and software)
  • Documentation, development of SOPs and metrics of system performance, and training of more junior scientists
  • Assisting with functional microscopy experiments
  • Support of collaborative projects

In addition, there will be ample opportunities to participate in specific research project efforts utilizing live imaging and manipulation of neural circuit function using advanced optical neuro-techniques under the supervision and in collaboration with postdoctoral scientists and graduate students, with co-authorship on resulting publications based on level of contribution.


  • Highly motivated, ambitious, and goal-driven
  • Strong organizational and interpersonal skills
  • Ph.D. or master’s degree in physics, optical engineering, electrical engineering, or related field
  • A minimum of 3 years of relevant hands-on work experience in a scientific or industrial research environment involving microscopy, ultrafast optics, non-linear optics, or opto-electronic hardware
  • Experience in at least one, ideally multiple of these areas would be highly desired: ultra-fast laser systems, optical system alignment, fiber optics, mechanical design, mechanical fabrication skills, electronics design, optomechanical hardware control (LabView, FPGA, experience with large-scale data processing and cluster computing), optical modeling and simulations (e.g., ZEMAX)
  • Basic programming skills (e.g., Matlab, Python, CAD, LabView)
  • Laboratory experience and prior study in the biological sciences are advantageous but not required

What We Offer:

  • Competitive Salary and Benefits Package.
  • Opportunity to work with world-renowned scientists at a top-tier neuroscience institution.
  • State-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge technology.
  • Continuous learning and professional development opportunities.
  • A collaborative and supportive work environment.

Interested candidates should send their application material, including a cover letter, CV/resume, list of publications, and the contact information of at least two references to  

For more information on our work, please visit our website at,


1          Geiller, T. et al. Local circuit amplification of spatial selectivity in the hippocampus. Nature 601, 105-109 (2022).

2          O'Hare, J. K. et al. Compartment-specific tuning of dendritic feature selectivity by intracellular Ca(2+) release. Science (New York, N.Y.) 375, eabm1670 (2022).

3          Rolotti, S. V. et al. Local feedback inhibition tightly controls rapid formation of hippocampal place fields. Neuron 110, 783-794 e786 (2022).

4          Terada, S. et al. Adaptive stimulus selection for consolidation in the hippocampus. Nature 601, 240-244 (2022).

5          Carrillo-Reid, L., Yang, W., Bando, Y., Peterka, D. S. & Yuste, R. Imprinting and recalling cortical ensembles. Science (New York, N.Y.) 353, 691-694 (2016).

6          Yang, W. et al. Simultaneous Multi-plane Imaging of Neural Circuits. Neuron 89, 269-284 (2016).

Get job alerts

Create a job alert and receive personalized job recommendations straight to your inbox.

Create alert