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Postdoctoral Researchers

Applications are invited for postdoctoral positions in the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University. Postdoctoral researchers in these positions will have significant independence to work on research projects of their choice in collaborations with other postdocs, students, Center faculty and experimentalists both at and outside Columbia. Research at the Columbia Center for Theoretical Neuroscience involves using computational and theoretical approaches to study topics in neuroscience at the synaptic, cellular, circuit, and behavioral levels. Of specific interest are learning and memory, synaptic dynamics, network dynamics, sensory processing, motor control, and neural pathologies.

Please visit our publications page for a list of recent publications. Successful candidates will also be integrated into the large, vibrant neuroscience community at Columbia University.

These positions are funded for several years, with an initial one-year appointment and an expectation of extension to at least three years given satisfactory performance. The salary is competitive, and the start date is negotiable although positions are available immediately. Applicants are expected to have a PhD in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Statistics, Neuroscience, Biology, or a related discipline and, preferably, experience in theoretical neuroscience or the statistical analysis of neuroscience data.

To apply

For faculty consideration, please send the following documents to yao2107@columbia.edu.

CV, including a list of publications
Statement of research interests
Three letters of reference

Reference writers should send their letters directly to yao2107@columbia.edu.

Graduate Students

Our Center does not itself constitute a Ph.D.-granting program. Rather, you can do your Ph.D. research in our Center while enrolled in, and otherwise meeting the requirements of, any Columbia Ph.D.-granting program.

We are most closely associated with the Neurobiology and Behavior program, and are very involved in admissions decisions for that program and also for the M.D.-Ph.D. program and to a lesser extent the Integrated Ph.D. program at the medical school. Liam Paninski is also in the Statistics program, and can play a role in the admissions process for that department. There are many other relevant programs from which Theory Center students may come, but again we do not play any direct role in these programs or their admissions. These include the other Medical School Ph.D. programs and the Applied MathematicsBioengineering, (see also Paul Sajda's home page), BiologyComputer ScienceElectrical Engineering (see also Aurel Lazar's home page), Physics, or Psychology (see also Norma Graham's homepage) programs. Theory Center students currently come from the Neurobiology and Behavior, Integrated, M.D.-Ph.D., Applied Math, and Physics programs.

We are most strongly committed to taking in students that we were involved in selecting for admission. To date, strong students in other programs who wish to work in the Theory Center have generally not had problems finding a theory center advisor; while we are not anticipating changes, it is always possible that this may change and we can make no promises.

Note that the priority application deadline for many programs is in early or mid December.

Fellowships

GRADUATE STUDENTS

The following fellowships can support theorists who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents:

Hertz Foundation Fellowships: Apply as senior undergrad or 1st-yr grad student (rare exceptions for more advanced students, see FAQ); applications open in Summer, deadline in Fall.

DOE Computational Science Fellowship: Apply as senior undergrad or 1st-yr grad student; applications open in October, deadline mid-January.

The following is only open to U.S. citizens or nationals:

National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowships: Apply as senior undergrad or 1st- or 2nd-yr grad student (rare exceptions for more advanced students); applications open around Sept. 1, deadline mid-December. Open to all of neuro/cognitive science. You need to discuss "how your research might be of interest to the Department of Defense (DoD)", but there is no service requirement of any kind associated with an award.

See also more general science or neuroscience fellowships listed here. In particular, for U.S. citizens/permanent residents, NSF fellowships (can apply as an undergrad senior and/or post-college, but only once as a grad student, either 1st or 2nd year; our students typically apply in their 2nd year) and NIH NRSA awards (apply after finishing 2nd year grad, i.e. after passing quals). As a grad student here we will guide you in applying for NSF and NRSA awards.

European citizens might look into the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation Fellowship, though it appears to be only for experimentalists; looks like you can apply when finishing undergrad or in 1st or 2nd yr of grad (?).

POSTDOCS

There are two terrific awards for those transitioning from Ph.D.'s in physical/mathematical/computational sciences into biomedical postdoctoral research. These are "mentored research development awards", supporting both several years of postdoctoral training and the first years of a faculty position, with higher stipends than most postdoctoral fellowships plus some research money. For US citizens/nationals/permanent residents, there is the NIH K25 award (deadlines every 4 months). It is only offered by some of the NIH institutes, and each seems to have different requirements, so you need to talk with the relevant program officers to get details and see if your situation fits. For citizens/nationals/permanent residents of the US or Canada, there is the Burroughs Wellcome Career Award at the Scientific Interface, with preproposals due around Sept. 1, and invitations needed to then submit a full proposal in January; you must have completed at least 1 and no more than 4 years of postdoctoral research by January deadline.

Individuals planning to move from another country to the US (or more generally to move between countries) can apply for the Human Frontiers Science Program (HFSP) postdoctoral fellowships. You must be changing fields, either within the life sciences or coming from outside the life sciences. Applications open in June, deadline in August. You cannot have started working in your postdoc lab before April of your application year and may not have spent more than 12 months total in the U.S. (or more generally, in the new country) in education or training by April of the following year.

Graduate students (any nationality) in later Ph.D. years, before selecting a specific postdoctoral lab, can apply for the James McDonnell Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards in Studying Complex Systems. They don't seem to define what "complex systems science" is but Elad Ganmor from Elad Schneidman's lab got one so apparently at least some forms of theoretical neuroscience will qualify. Application deadline in June for someone expecting to complete the Ph.D. in the following calendar year.

Women and minorities (Hispanic, Black, Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander, or American Indian/Alaska Native), apparently of any nationality (but check with program officers), can apply in late Ph.D. or beginning postdoc years for the Hannah H. Gray Fellowship from the HMMI (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) for postdoctoral work in the U.S.

More general postdoctoral fellowships for biomedical research:

For U.S. citizens/permanent residents: the NIH F32 award (postdoctoral training grant) is for a period of new training as a postdoc.

Citizens or non-citizens may apply for the NIH K99 Pathway to Independence award. This mentored research development award supports the last 2 years of postdoctoral work and the first 3 years of a faculty position. Generally must be no more than 5 years since receipt of the Ph.D. at time of application, some exceptions.

All of these NIH grants have 3 deadlines/year (every 4 months).

Helen Hay Whitney Research Fellowships are for initial stages of postdoctoral work in biomedical sciences; application deadline July 1; apply in final stages of Ph.D. or first year of postdoc. Open to any citizenship, although "We expect that most applicants will reside in North America at the time of application."

For physician/scientists, Burroughs Welcome has Career Awards for Medical Scientists, which are mentored research development awards to bridge the last years of postdoctoral/fellowship training and first years of a faculty position.

This compendium of postdoctoral fellowships lists a number of fellowships, in particular a number available for underrepresented minorities.

Marie Curie postdoctoral fellowships for EU citizens or those who have been working in EU to work abroad; less than 12 months in new country at application deadline.

See also Society in Science and Life Sciences Research Fellowship.

The following have specific location or citizenship requirements: EMBO (selected countries), ELSC (Israeli Citizenship), and EGL (Israeli Citizenship).

GRAD STUDENTS & POSTDOCS

In addition to the programs listed above, you could look through this compendium of non-NIH funding opportunities for biomedical/behavioral research, particularly if you are non-U.S. citizen/resident, to find programs for which you may be eligible.

The Neuroscience Scholar's Program of the Society for Neuroscience provides a three-year fellowship offering funds for travel and career development for "underrepresented and diverse undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows in the field of neuroscience."