Over the last decades optical methods and machine learning have been revolutionizing our understanding of the brain. The ability to interact with the nervous system (both read-out and modulation) by using photons has enabled previously inaccessible experiments, like simultaneously recording and modulating the activity of genetically targeted neuronal populations at single cell resolution for weeks or months. Supervised and unsupervised algorithms have unlocked the ability to process in real-time a huge stream of information, thereby enabling closed-loop experiments where the activity of the brain is perturbed based on the network and behavioral states.

Applications are invited for a post-doctoral research position in the laboratory of Dr. Andrea Giovannucci (NEL LAB), within the UNC/NCSU department of Bioengineering, to carry out closed-loop brain imaging and stimulation experiments. This project involves close collaborations with experts in optics (UNC) and machine learning scientists (Flatiron Institute). There is the option to carry out a purely experimental or a mixed experimental/computational training in the laboratory. Candidates with an experimental background, as well as with the desire to carry out experimental research on mice (calcium imaging, optogenetics, electrophysiology) are encouraged to apply.

The primary focus of the lab is to study the mechanisms and principles of neural circuit interaction between neocortex and subcortical areas, with the final objective of developing neuroprosthetic devices. With this goal, computational and experimental closed-loop methods to perform simultaneous brain recording and stimulation in different brain areas will be designed, with emphasis on all-optical tools (voltage and calcium imaging, optogenetics). The candidate will carry out experiments and computational analysis to assess how different learning mechanisms (supervised, weakly supervised and unsupervised) interact within the brain to enable motor learning. Collaborations with other laboratories within UNC and NCSU, as well as Duke University and the Simons Foundation are possible and strongly encouraged.

 

The ideal candidate will have a PhD in neuroscience, biology or related field. She/he will have extensive experience in optogenetics and electrophysiology in awake rodents (mice preferably), as well as in developing new behavioral paradigms. Some experience with Python coding is a plus.

The bioengineering department has joint affiliations with both UNC and NCSU, two of the three major universities in the research triangle, an area encompassing Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh. The research triangle offers a wide variety of academic, industrial and artistic opportunities, as well as affordable housing options for both families and young adults. The intellectual and artistic environment is vibrant and dynamic. The RDU international airport, just 20 minutes from the campuses, serves most American cities, as well as London and Paris with direct flights.

Salary is based on research experience. Applicants should send a brief statement of research interests, a CV and the names of two references to Prof. Andrea Giovannucci at andrea.giovannucci@gmail.com. The NEL lab supports diversity and encourages the applications from female and minority candidates.

References[1] Giovannucci, Andrea, et al. “Cerebellar granule cells acquire a widespread predictive feedback signal during motor learning.” Nature neuroscience 20.5 (2017): 727.

[2] Giovannucci, Andrea, et al. “Onacid: Online analysis of calcium imaging data in real time.” Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems. 2017.

[3] Giovannucci, Andrea, et al. “Efficient Principal Subspace Projection of Streaming Data Through Fast Similarity Matching.” IEEE Big Data 2018. (2018). In Press.

[4] Giovannucci, A., et al. “Automated gesture tracking in head-fixed mice.” Journal of neuroscience methods 300 (2018): 184-195.

[5] Giovannucci, Andrea, et al. “CaImAn: An open source tool for scalable Calcium Imaging data Analysis.” bioRxiv (2018): 339564.

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