[visionlist] Postdoctoral position in Davide Zoccolan’s Visual Neuroscience Lab at SISSA in a project funded by SFARI

Davide Zoccolan zoccolan at sissa.it
Thu Aug 18 04:30:00 -04 2022

The Visual Neuroscience Lab led by Prof. Davide Zoccolan (https://people.sissa.it/~zoccolan/VisionLab/Home.html) at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste (Italy) is looking for a postdoctoral fellow. The position is a full-time, 2-years research fellowship with a net salary of 2,200 EUR per month and is supported by a grant of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI).
Prof. Zoccolan is one of the 7 investigators that was recently awarded a grant by SFARI with the goal of establishing the Autism Rat Models Consortium (https://www.sfari.org/2022/04/29/sfari-autism-rat-models-consortium-awardees-announced/) – a collaborative effort to advance our understanding of the behavioral and circuit neuroscience mechanisms driving autism spectrum disorder (ASD), by exploiting the rat genetic models of ASD recently developed by SFARI (https://www.sfari.org/resource/rat-models/).
The contribution of Zoccolan’s lab will be to characterize the visual abilities and underlying cortical processes of a mutant for the Scn2a gene, one of the highest-confidence ASD risk genes. This project stems from the observation that atypical sensory experience affects around 90% of autistic individuals. In the visual modality, these anomalies include a propensity to process local rather than global features of visual patterns, an inability to deploy configural processing strategies (resulting in, e.g., deficits in face discrimination), and an impairment to extract structural regularities in the sensory environment (resulting in, e.g., deficits to extract perceptual invariants).
The goal of the postdoctoral fellow will be to compare visual perceptual abilities of mutant and wildtype (WT) rats in a battery of visual discrimination tasks aimed at specifically assessing some of these processes (e.g., invariant recognition and configural processing). At the same time, he/she will investigate the neuronal correlates of these processes by performing large-scale neuronal recordings from multiple visual cortical areas of mutant and WT rats. To this aim, the postdoctoral fellow will also contribute to setting up a neurophysiology rig to carry out neuronal recordings using Neuropixel arrays.
Who we are looking for: we are seeking a highly motivated system neuroscientist with a propensity for teamwork and an interest to carry out cutting-edge research at the frontier between basic and translational science. The successful candidate must have a PhD and solid experience in: 1) training animals in behavioral (e.g., perceptual) tasks; 2) performing in-vivo neuronal recordings from either anesthetized or awake animals using electrode arrays (previous experience with Neuropixel is a plus); 3) programming with Matlab or Python for stimulus and task design and data analysis (familiarity with machine learning tools is a plus). The candidate should also have a strong publication record, as well as project management skills, critical and analytical thinking, and social and communication skills. Fluent spoken and written English is a requirement
How to Apply: the official call will be published on SISSA website between the end of September and the beginning of October. For the time being, candidates are invited to directly contact Prof. Zoccolan by e-mail: zoccolan at sissa.it<mailto:zoccolan at sissa.it>, attaching a recent CV and a motivation letter detailing research interest, experience, and career goals (max 1 page). The position must be filled between December 2022 and January 2023.
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