Postdoc - Computational Neuroethology
Application deadline: not specified
[printable version http://www.dzg-ev.de/de/stellenboerse/ausschreibungen/2015/postdoc_bielefeld2015.pdf]
Bielefeld University, Department of Neurobiology & Cluster of Excellence ‘Cognitive Interaction technology’ (CITEC)
Postdoc Position in the field of
Computational Neuroethology of Visually Guided Insect Orientation Behaviour
(A13, 2x3 years depending on performance)
It is the overarching goal of to the Neurobiology group at Bielefeld University to strive to understand how biological systems integrate perception with action. We focus – with be- havioural, neural and modelling approaches - on the context of visual orientation, visual pursuit, spatial learning and navigation and seek to abstract principles that allow artificial systems to move, orient and navigate autonomously and intelligently.
What do we expect?
We are seeking a highly-motivated candidate who meshes synergistically with the research profile of the group and strives for understanding the computational mechanisms underlying visually guided behaviour of insects (preferably blowflies or bumblebees). Quantitative behavioural, electrophysiological and/or modelling approaches targeting the neural mechanisms underlying behavioural control define the field of activity.
You are expected to have a PhD and first-hand experience with at least one of the men- tioned approaches proven by high-quality publications. While conducting your own re- search project you should also be dedicated to cooperate and interact with other re- searchers in the group working with complementary approaches and to actively contribute ideas and expertise. You are an ideal candidate if you are experienced in doing experi- mental and/or modelling analyses on insects. Moreover, knowledge in advanced techniques in data analysis, programming experience (preferably Matlab) as well as excellent writing skills are essential. However, even if you match this profile only in parts, you are encouraged to apply - given you are prepared to develop with great enthusiasm new skills, learn new techniques and are eager to contribute interesting research results to the overall research field of the group.
Apart from doing excellent research you are expected to teach with great commitment (four hours per week) in BSc programmes as well as in the international MSc programme ‘Behaviour: From Neural Mechanisms to Evolution’. Since our BSc programmes are taught in German, candidates not yet sufficiently proficient in German are expected to ac quire sufficient language proficiency within two years to teach independently in the BSc programmes.
The successful candidate is also expected to contribute significantly to applications for third-party research funds.
What do we offer?
We offer a position in an enthusiastic research team working in a stimulating environment with excellent facilities for laboratory work as well as computational analyses (e.g. high-speed video techniques, virtual reality arenas for behavioural and neurophysiological experiments, and innovative approaches to data analysis). The Neurobiology group is cooperating with other groups in the Faculty of Biology as well as at the Center of Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) in Bielefeld, but also internationally.
What are the research goals of our group?
Insects, such as blowflies or bumblebees (our current experimental animals), manage to solve complex spatial tasks: Flying insects, in general, avoid collisions with obstacles, and are able to detect appropriate landing sites and to approach them. Blowflies, for instance, perform highly virtuosic pursuit maneuvers of conspecifics in the context of mating behaviour. Bumblebees navigate to goals, such as their nest or a feeding site, over even large distances by using spatial landmark information that is perceived, learnt, and subsequently retrieved for finding the goal. With their miniature brains insects outperform man-made autonomous systems in these tasks at least with respect to computational expenditure and energy efficiency.
Our research is based on the assumption that the brains of insects acquire the relevant spatial information about the environment by means of their visual system. Distances to objects can be computed from the movement of the objects’ images across the eyes (‘optic flow’). Any nearby object appears to move much faster than distant ones if the animal translates, e.g. moves on a straight course. Given the small number of nerve cells in insect brains and their limited reliability, extracting such information needs to rely on extremely efficient mechanisms. As a consequence of millions of years of evolution, these mechanisms are tightly linked to the sophisticated locomotion and gaze strategies of insects.
We want to elucidate the computational principles, down to the level of neurons and neural networks, that generate and control visually guided behaviour in complex cluttered en- vironments. In addition to experimental analyses with a wide range of methods, we also employ modelling approaches to derive formalised descriptions of the computational mechanisms in the insect’s brain. As a group affiliated with the Centre of Excellence 'Cognitive Interaction Technology' (CITEC), we cooperate with other CITEC colleagues in the field of computer science to incorporate the smart computational principles of biological visual systems into artificial systems, bringing them closer to the performance of their biological counterpart.
For further information about our research profile have a look at our web site at http://web.biologie.uni-bielefeld.de/neurobiology.
Where to apply?
For further inquiries about the position, please contact: Prof. Dr. Martin Egelhaaf, Neuro biology & CITEC, Bielefeld University; firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send your application including a letter outlining your academic education and past research, your motivation for this position and your specific experience (max. 2 pages), CV, list of publications and contact details of 2-3 referees in a single (!) PDF file to Prof. Dr. Martin Egelhaaf, Neurobiology & CITEC, Bielefeld University; email@example.com.
Applications will be considered until the position is filled.