BioE Post-Doc: Schwerdt Laboratory (Probing the Role of Dopamine in Emotionally Regulated Learning of Skill and Performance)


The Schwerdt Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh has an opening for a Postdoctoral Associate to investigate the role of dopamine in emotionally regulated learning of skill and performance in nonhuman primates in states of health and disease (i.e. progressive neurodegenerative model of Parkinson’s disease). Applicant screenings will continue until the position is filled.

The research involves applying multi-modal brain implantable systems in nonhuman primates (rhesus monkeys) to uncover the co-active molecular dopamine and electrical neural signals mediating plasticity and the ability to learn, refine, and execute skilled movements or decision-making behaviors as they evolve over a range of seconds, minutes, and months and in health and in disease (i.e. Parkinson’s disease). Our lab previously established cutting-edge methods to look at brain activity in a new way, that is, by recording both chemical (i.e. dopamine) and electrical (spike and local field potential) neural activity using electrochemistry (FSCV) and electrophysiology, respectively, and to be able to do this over chronic year-long time scales.

The ideal candidate will lead experimental design to collect and analyze neural signals (dopamine, spikes, and oscillations) made from striatum and interconnected brain structures in task-performing monkeys. The position offers opportunities for growth and expansion of skills in primate neurophysiology (including electrochemistry, electrophysiology, microstimulation, neurosurgery, and task design), novel microfabrication methods for brain activity mapping applications, and systems neuroscience. The individual is expected to work as a team with the principal investigator and other undergraduate and graduate students, and technicians. The individual is expected to prepare and write high-quality journal papers for peer-review and scientific dissemination, present significant research progress in scientific workshops and/or conferences, and participate in grant writing.

Candidates should hold a Ph.D. in neuroscience, engineering, biology, psychology, computer science or another computational major, mathematics, physics, or other related fields and have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, organizational skills, strong work ethics, and motivational drive, the ability to design and carry out research independently, and evidence of sufficient research experiences (e.g. publication record). Highly competitive applicants will have experience in one or more of the following: nonhuman primate electrophysiology; neuroscience; behavioral training and task design; computational analysis, modeling, and programming in MATLAB; data science, statistics, machine learning, or other advanced mathematical computational and analytic techniques to analyze neural data; animal handling and surgeries; and/or grant writing.

The University of Pittsburgh is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer and values equality of opportunity, human dignity and diversity. EOE, including disability/vets.

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