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Postdoctoral Scholar in Neurophysiology of Decisions
University of Minnesota in the Minneapolis, Minnesota
Date Posted 08/31/2020
Employment Type Full-time
Application Deadline Open until filled

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.
  • Strong programming skills. MATLAB or Python is essential. C/C++ (and derivatives), LabVIEW, and scripting languages could be useful but are not required. Prior experience with data acquisition hardware, prototyping systems (Arduino, Teensy, Pi, etc.) and/or creating real-time systems would be helpful.
  • 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
  • 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

The Translational NeuroEngineering Laboratory (TNEL) in the University of Minnesota Department of Psychiatry has a multi-year funded opening for a postdoctoral scholars at the intersection of neuroscience, brain stimulation, and behavior. Our laboratory develops technologies to reverse the circuit impairments that cause mental illness, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, and addictions. More information about our work is at .

The job duties (100%) in this project involve measuring and manipulating the activity of cortico-striatal 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) for recording hundreds of simultaneous channels across the striatal circuitry
  • Optogenetic and electrical real-time perturbations, including interventions directly linked to clinical deep brain stimulation.
  • Innovative behavioral assays and parametric computational modeling of behavior to identify the underlying circuit computations.

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

Our goal is to prepare you to be successful in the future as an independent researcher. UMN has multiple training and seed grant programs to support that transition to independence. Our laboratory includes both animal and human research components, and you will interact almost daily with other neuroscientists and engineers. There are also opportunities for collaboration and networking with clinicians, basic neuroscientists, and engineers. We are very focused on mentoring and developing junior personnel, and the PI will work with you to ensure that you are submitting competitive applications for fellowships and other grants on the pathway to independence. We also have strong industry relations for researchers interested in careers outside academia.

We do have a staff scientist track for researchers interested in more long-term non-faculty positions; please indicate in your cover letter if that is where your interest lies.

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.

This position is 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 and willing to work hard to master new skills. The UMN neuroscience community is committed to reversing historical inequities, and you will find a welcoming and supportive community here.

To learn more about the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences please visit:

Applications must be submitted online. To be considered for this position, please click the Apply button and follow the instructions. You will be given the opportunity to complete an online application for the position and attach a cover letter and resume.

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 .

Additional documents may be attached after application by accessing your "My Job Applications" page and uploading documents in the "My Cover Letters and Attachments" section.

To request an accommodation during the application process, please e-mail or call (612) 624-UOHR (8647).

The University recognizes and values the importance of diversity and inclusion in enriching the employment experience of its employees and in supporting the academic mission. The University is committed to attracting and retaining employees with varying identities and backgrounds.

The University of Minnesota provides equal access to and opportunity in its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. To learn more about diversity at the U:

Any offer of employment is contingent upon the successful completion of a background check. Our presumption is that prospective employees are eligible to work here. Criminal convictions do not automatically disqualify finalists from employment.

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (UMTC)

The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (UMTC), is among the largest public research universities in the country, offering undergraduate, graduate, and professional students a multitude of opportunities for study and research. Located at the heart of one of the nation's most vibrant, diverse metropolitan communities, students on the campuses in Minneapolis and St. Paul benefit from extensive partnerships with world-renowned health centers, international corporations, government agencies, and arts, nonprofit, and public service organizations.

*Please mention to employers when applying for this job*
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