Job ID: 115336

PhD position in behavioral neuroscience of learning by observation in rodents

Position: Ph.D. Student

Deadline: 4 September 2023

City: Amsterdam

Country: Netherlands

Institution: Netherlands Institute For Neuroscience



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Location: Amsterdam
Max hours per week: 38
Max salary: € 2.770,-
Duration of agreement: 1-4 Years
Apply until: 5 September 2023

Are you interested in researching how the brain learns about the world by witnessing the behavior of others using a combination of sophisticated behavioral paradigms and opto- and chemo-genetic manipulations in a multidisciplinary, dynamic team at the frontier of social neuroscience? Then consider joining the social brain lab and the NWO funded collaboration between the NIN and the Donders Brain-wide dynamics for socially-mediated memory acquisition. If you are curious, have a passion for behavior, like finding patterns in complex datasets and wish to work in a vibrant, international, interdisciplinary and highly collaborative environment, then this position might be ideal for you.

What you will be doing

As a PhD student you will be a critical part of a subteam within the laboratory, composed of you, another phd student and three postdocs, that examine how animals learn from observation. The team is currently studying the brain network recruited when rats and mice witness fear reactions of others in a particular environment. Your aim will be to refine current paradigms to study how observers learn to avoid dangerous places by witnessing these fear reactions, and to then opto- and chemo-genetic manipulations to unravel the connections and neural populations through which these socially mediated memories are created and affect decision-making.

During your PhD you will have the opportunity to:

  • create behavioral paradigms that can advance the field
  • learn to use cutting edge computer-vision tools to provide fine-grained analyses of behavior
  • perform Bayesian modeling to provide computational accounts of the animals decision-making
  • learn and perform opto- and chemo-genetic methods to study causality in modern circuit neuroscience
  • closely collaborate and coordinate with other members of the consortium at different seniority levels
  • publish your findings in open access scientific journals
  • actively participate in the communication of your results to the general public

What you will be contributing

We are looking for an enthusiastic team-player, who

  • has a research master in the field of neuroscience or related fields
  • enjoys developing behavioral rodent paradigms and does not get discouraged by initial failures
  • enjoys advanced data analyses and statistical inferences
  • enjoys learning new techniques
  • functions well both in a team as well as independently, and possess good communication skills
  • enjoys finalizing projects and writing papers

What we are offering

In this 4-year-project, you will have the opportunity to learn state of the art research skills from leaders in the field. You’ll enjoy working in a close-knit team of scientists that values an open culture where everybody feels free to ask questions and make suggestions. In particular, you can expect to

  • Learn a highly valued skill: to develop and analyse paradigms to showcase the social cognitive skills of animals.
  • Training in the development and analysis of behavior
  • Training in performing optogenetic and chemogenetic manipulations
  • help you become an expert in social neuroscience in rodents
  • The opportunity to work with leading researchers at the intersection between social and memory neuroscience
  • You’ll be part of a community of PhD students within the social brain lab working on related projects using a variety of methods
  • Guidance, support and mentoring from three postdocs and at least two PIs
  • A contract for 4 years for 1.0 fte according to the CAO NU
  • Additional benefits including an 8.3% end-of-year bonus and 8% holiday pay.

Your Workplace

The Social Brain Lab at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience.
This will be your main home, in which your main supervisors, Prof. Christian Keysers and Dr. Valeria Gazzola will be working on a daily base and where you will work closely with another PhD student and three postdocs on related project

The Social Brain Lab is the results of the joint venture of the research groups of Christian Keysers and Valeria Gazzola, aiming at shedding light on the neural mechanisms of empathy by combining studies in humans and rodents. The SBL is funded by multiple European (ERC, Marie Curie) and Dutch (VENI/VIDI/VICI, Gravitation, XL) grants, and is characterized by an unusually diverse environment, with members from all over the world, backgrounds (ranging from philosophy to engineering with an emphasis on biology and psychology), and neuroscientific techniques (spanning from ultra-high field fMRI in humans to single-cell recordings in rodents). The SBL is appreciated for its collaborative, enthusiastic and supportive environment, where people strive to become successful, recognized and appreciated scientists.

Terms of Employment
The appointment will initially be for 12 months and if evaluated positively extended with 3 years and must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. T

For more information
Please contact Laura Hammock

Application procedure

Only applications that have filled in the current application form (‘Apply now’ button at the end of this page) + the form you will find at will be considered

Evaluation of candidates will begin immediately, and after about 4 weeks from the deadline candidates will be informed whether they passed the first round or not. Shortlisted candidates will receive, taking into account candidates’ availability, a short assignment to be done within 48h. Based on the results of the assignment, we will organize a 1h Zoom interview followed by a visit on site for the best candidates. We foresee a final decision to be communicated within three months after the first submission date. If no excellent candidate can be identified, we might re-advertise the position.

We will not respond to any supplier enquiries based on this job advertisement.

You can submit your motivation letter and curriculum vitae via this system no later than 5 September 2023.

About the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience

The Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience is the country’s leading fundamental neuroscience research institute, in the international and progressive city of Amsterdam. It provides a critical mass of scientists (spanning more than 27 nationalities) and neuroscience facilities, in a highly interactive, dynamic, multi-cultural environment, with English as the working language

Terms of employment
The minimum salary is € 2.770,- (first year) and the maximum salary is € 3.539,- (fourth year) gross per month for a full-time appointment (PhD scale cao Nederlandse Universiteiten/KNAW). This is exclusive of 8% vacation allowance, 8.3% year-end bonus, travel allowance, internet allowance, home working allowance and pension accrual with ABP.
The KNAW offers its staff an excellent package of secondary benefits. A package that meets the different needs of employees depending on their stage of life, lifestyle or career ambitions. For example, by working an extra two hours a week, it is possible to increase the number of days off from 29 to 41 days a year (with full-time employment).
For a complete overview of the terms of employment, please refer to the web page: werken bij de KNAW.

Diversity & Inclusion
The KNAW considers a working environment in which everyone feels welcome and appreciated of great importance. A working environment in which attention is paid to individual quality and where development opportunities are paramount. Together we strive for an inclusive culture in which we embrace differences. We would therefore like to invite candidates who want to contribute to this through their background and experience. In the event of equal suitability, preference will be given to the candidate who thus enhances diversity within the Academy.

We will not respond to any supplier enquiries based on this job advertisement.