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Neuro or Mechatronics Engineer - Ruta Lab

HHMI - Howard Hughes Medical Institute
New York City, New York (US)
$76,705.00 (minimum) - $95,900.00 (midpoint) - $124,775.00 (maximum)
Closing date
Dec 29, 2023

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Job Details

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) advances the discovery and sharing of scientific knowledge to benefit us all. As a biomedical research organization and philanthropy, HHMI supports a vibrant community of academic researchers, educators, students, and professionals. Together, we’re unlocking the fundamentals of biology and building an open, inclusive future for science.

The Ruta lab at The Rockefeller University leverages the relatively simple nervous system of the fruit fly Drosophila to examine how flexibility is engineered into the nervous system to give rise to adaptive behaviors, through individual experience or evolution. Research in the lab aims to elucidate how learning rapidly shapes neural pathways to allow each member of a species to respond appropriately to their unique experience of the world. They also consider how neural circuits are adapted over longer evolutionary time scales to give rise to species-specific behaviors. The lab uses a wide array of techniques, from biochemistry to behavior, with the goal of revealing the explicit neural basis for flexible behavior at high resolution. Engineering methods to generate more precise and quantitative measures of neural activity and behavior are central to this goal. For more information, please visit

About the Neuro or Mechatronics Engineer role:
We have an amazing opportunity for a Neuro or Mechatronics Engineer to join the lab team. You will be a versatile engineer, working closely with neuroscientists and biologists to develop and support custom hardware systems for behavioral and neurophysiological experiments in fruit flies. The position will entail software development and integration with electromechanical components – primarily in MATLAB, Python, and C++ - working with soft and hard real-time systems. The laboratory extensively uses open-source software and hardware.  A comfort with, and basic understanding of, mechanical and electronic-circuit design, experience in 3D CAD for rapid prototyping, electronic circuit design and testing, interfacing custom hardware/microcircuits with software for experiment control is necessary for success. You should be able to work both independently and closely with biologists to accomplish a complete project cycle, from design through fabrication.


What we provide:

  • A competitive compensation package with comprehensive health and welfare benefits

  • Working with a dynamic team of neuroscientists and in collaboration with a small core of engineers.

  • A collaborative, diverse, intellectually stimulating work environment.

  • Joining the vibrant and world renown HHMI and Rockefeller scientific communities

  • Opportunities for professional development and growth


What you’ll do:

  • Maintaining and extending upon a virtual-reality system that uses real-time video-image analysis of fly behavior and physiological data-acquisition of neuronal activity.

  • Developing a flexible, real-time software platform––likely using Robot Operating System (ROS)––to facilitate the behavioral and neurophysiological experiments.

  • Working with efficient machine vision algorithms to extract fly behaviors in real time and offline.

  • Develop and maintain systems for measuring and manipulating fly behavior using custom electronic circuits, cameras, and software.

  • Performing complete project cycles, from design to fabrication, with support from a small engineering core in the university’s fabrication and machining facility.


What you bring:

  • A Master or PhD in neuroscience, engineering, math, physics, computer science, or biology, and related fields.

  • Experience designing and building small mechanical and electronic devices.

  • Experience writing code in MATLAB, Python, and C++ is required. Familiarity with writing graphical user interfaces is preferred.

  • Experience with data analysis and visualization.

  • Expertise with rapid prototyping.

  • Strong prioritization skills with high attention to detail, accuracy, and precision in day-to-day work.

  • An interest in neuroscience and experience with ROS/ROS2.

  • An interest in working closely with biologists on engineering approaches.

  • Excitement for the opportunity to rapidly assimilate new information for the purpose of solving varied computational and design challenges.

  • Ability to work well both independently and within a small team.

  • Creativity and enjoyment of the iterative process of design development.


Physical Requirements:

Remaining in a normal seated or standing position for extended periods of time; reaching and grasping by extending hand(s) or arm(s); dexterity to manipulate objects with fingers, for example using a keyboard; communication skills using the spoken word; ability to see and hear within normal parameters; ability to move about workspace. The position requires mobility, including the ability to move materials weighing up to several pounds (such as a laptop computer or tablet).


Persons with disabilities may be able to perform the essential duties of this position with reasonable accommodation. Requests for reasonable accommodation will be evaluated on an individual basis.


Please Note:

This job description sets forth the job’s principal duties, responsibilities, and requirements; it should not be construed as an exhaustive statement, however.  Unless they begin with the word “may,” the Essential Duties and Responsibilities described above are “essential functions” of the job, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Compensation and Benefits

Our employees are compensated from a total rewards perspective in many ways for their contributions to our mission, including competitive pay, exceptional health benefits, retirement plans, time off, and a range of recognition and wellness programs. Visit our Benefits at HHMI site to learn more. 


Compensation Range

$76,705.00 (minimum) - $95,900.00 (midpoint) - $124,775.00 (maximum)


Pay Type:



HHMI’s salary structure is developed based on relevant job market data. HHMI considers a candidate's education, previous experiences, knowledge, skills and abilities, as well as internal equity when making job offers. Typically, a new hire for this position in this location is compensated between the minimum and the midpoint of the salary range.


HHMI is an Equal Opportunity Employer


For 60 years, HHMI has been moving science forward. We’re an independent, ever-evolving philanthropy that supports basic biomedical scientists and science educators with the potential for transformative impact. We invest in people, not projects. We encourage collaborative and results-driven working styles and offer an adaptable environment where employees can function at their highest level. As HHMI scientists continue to push boundaries in laboratories and classrooms, you can be sure that your contributions while working at HHMI are making a difference.

To move science forward, we need experts in areas such as communications, finance, human resources, information technology, investments, and law as well as scientists.

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