Associate Research Scientist
Columbia University’s Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute (the Zuckerman Institute) brings together researchers to explore aspects of mind and brain, through the exchange of ideas and active collaboration. The Zuckerman Institute’s home will be the Jerome L. Greene Science Center on Columbia’s new Manhattanville campus. Situated in the heart of Manhattan, at full capacity the Zuckerman Institute will house approximately 47 laboratories employing a broad range of interdisciplinary approaches to transform our understanding of the mind and brain. In this highly collaborative environment, labs work together to gain critical insights into human health by exploring how the brain develops, performs, endures and recovers from trauma or disease.
A lab within the Zuckerman Institute seeks an Associate Research Scientist (ARS) to facilitate research on dissecting the neuronal circuits underlying the learning of motor actions. The ability to learn to perform specific motor movements is critical for many aspects of life, and is dysregulated in a range of neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. Dopaminergic cells provide a reinforcement signal to promote action learning, but how the brain uses these signals to explore the action space based on past rewarding experiences is not clear. The successful candidate will use in vivo calcium imaging to measure neuronal activity in striatal and dopaminergic circuits engaged as freely-moving mice learn to perform specific actions or sequences of actions. Additionally, the candidate will employ a combination of optogenetics and specific, unsupervised behavioral clustering to develop a closed-loop reinforcement system to promote the performance of specific actions or action sequences.
The ideal candidate will have expertise in viral and operant behavioral methods, and strong in vivo imaging and computational skills, as well as superior motivation, drive and demonstrated aptitude for research.