Post Doctoral Fellow - Department of Biology

Job Number
Job Type
Regular Full-Time
Emory College
ECAS: Biology
Campus Location (For Posting) : City
Location : Name
Emory Campus-Clifton Corridor
This position may involve the following Health and Safety issues:
Working with radioactive materials or devices.

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We seek a postdoctoral fellow to study motor control and the biomechanics of sound production in songbirds and rodents. The positions will be part of an interdisciplinary, international consortium consisting of three nodes: the Sober Lab at Emory University (Atlanta, USA), the Vocal Neuromechanics Lab at the Department of Biology at the University of Southern Denmark (SDU, Odense, Denmark), and the Complex Flow Modeling and Simulation Lab at the University of Maine (Orono, USA). The open position is located in Atlanta, USA, but applicant will receive mentorship from and (post-pandemic) travel between all three research nodes.  

The positions are funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation (Denmark) as part of the Interdisciplinary Synergy Programme along with the National Institutes of Health (USA). They are available as of October 2021, or until filled, for a three-year period.

Although the physics of voice production is described in humans, experimental difficulties prevent systematic investigation of voice control and associated diseases. Consequently, we lack physics-based causal models connecting neural activity to sounds produced. In contrast, in songbirds and rodents - the best animal models for speech acquisition and neuropsychiatric communicative dysfunctions - we can probe the neural circuits controlling vocal behavior but lack insight in how their activity is transformed into sound by their vocal organs. In this interdisciplinary project, we will use state-of-the-art techniques from neuroscience, physiology, engineering, and biomechanics to integrate physics-based, computational models with novel experimental paradigms to causally link neural activity to sound production in songbirds and rodents.

Preferred qualifications
We are looking for an applicant with:

  • a PhD in bio-imaging, biomechanics, engineering, neuroscience, or a related field

    Other experiences, such as signal analysis, and/or programming (C++, Matlab, or equivalent) present a distinct advantage.

    We seek scholars with one of the following distinct profiles, but possibly also other types or researchers:
  1. Experience in biomechanics. We will use combined in vitroand ex vivo approaches studying effects of muscle recruitment on sound production. Experimental techniques: high-speed imaging, 3D motion capture, muscle mechanics, kinematic analysis, mechanical tissue properties and microscopy. 
  2. Experience in micro-surgical experimental procedures. Experience with EMG implantation or other muscle (or nerve) surgery is ideal, but any kind of micro-surgical experience is a strong asset.

Our research

The Sober Lab investigates how the brain controls complex behaviors and improves motor output through practice. We use songbird and rodent species to investigate how networks of neurons and muscle fibers control vocal and forelimb behavior, respectively. To do so, we combine behavioral manipulations, neurophysiological and muscle (EMG) recordings, and computational approaches.

The Vocal Neuromechanics Lab uses a combination of experimental and computational approaches to study motor control and physical mechanisms of sound production in the vocal vertebrates. We use and develop methods from biomechanics, electrophysiology, acoustics, and behavior at different levels of organization (cellular, whole organ, in vivo).


The Complex Flow Modeling and Simulation Lab focuses on modelling complex flow phenomena using high-fidelity immersed boundary based computational method incorporating with massive parallel computing. Current research interests include complex biomedical, physiological, and biological flows with complex, moving boundaries and flow structure interaction as well as renewable energy applications.

Please contact Dr Samuel Sober (samuel.j.sober@emory.edu) for more information.


JOB DESCRIPTION: Helps design and conduct research within a specified field while receiving advanced training from a designated Principal Investigator to enhance professional skills and research independence needed for pursuit of a career. The specific area of research in which the trainee is mentored is determined by the department and laboratory of the Postdoc. Designs and evaluates experiments. Develops new ideas that promote current research. Prepares and publishes scientific manuscripts under the direction of the Principal Investigator. May be responsible for operation of specific equipment. May teach techniques to others, train, and supervise research staff. Positions are temporary appointments as a research trainee. The initial appointment is for one year, renewal expected if progress is satisfactory and funds are available. Appointments cannot exceed five years.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS: A doctoral degree or equivalent (Ph.D., M.D., ScD., D.V.M., DDS etc) in an appropriate field. Excellent scientific writing ability and strong oral communication skills. The ability to work effectively and collegially with colleagues. Additional qualifications as specified by the Principal Investigator.


The job is also posted on the Interfolio site:  - http://apply.interfolio.com/97332

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