Rockefeller University Mechatronics Engineer, Neurophysiology and Behavior in New York, New York
Job Title Mechatronics Engineer, Neurophysiology and Behavior
Laboratory / Department Neurophysiology and Behavior
The Laboratory of Neurophysiology and Behavior takes advantage of the relatively simple nervous system of the fruit fly Drosophila to examine how flexibility is engineered into the nervous system to give rise to adaptive behaviors, at the level of both individuals and species. We examine how learning rapidly shapes neural pathways to allow each member of a species to respond appropriately to their unique experience of the world. We also consider how neural circuits are adapted over longer evolutionary time scales to give rise to species-specific behaviors. Our lab employs a multidisciplinary approach, from biochemistry to behavior, with the goal of revealing the neural basis for flexible behavior at high resolution.
The Mechatronics Engineer will work closely with neuroscientists and biologists to develop and support custom software/hardware systems for behavioral and neurophysiological experiments in fruit flies. The Mechatronics Engineer's responsibilities will entail software development, primarily in Matlab, Python, and C++, working with soft and hard real-time systems and open-source software and hardware. Will be responsible for maintaining and extending upon a virtual-reality system that combines real-time video-image analysis of fly behavior and physiological data-acquisition of neuronal activity, developing a flexible, real-time software platform to facilitate the behavioral and neurophysiological experiments likely using Robot Operating System (ROS), developing efficient machine vision algorithms to facilitate the behavioral and neurophysiological experiments, performing complete project cycles, from design to fabrication with support from a small engineering core in the university's fabrication and machining facility, and using existing image-registration routines to align neural imaging data from experiments across multiple insects. Depending on expertise and interest, other projects may involve designing and manufacturing tiny plastic platforms for restraining flies (micro-machined with CNC mills), optical systems for biological imaging applications, and simple electronic devices for measuring fly behavior (utilizing Atmel microcontrollers and custom-designed printed circuit boards).
Bachelor's degree in engineering, math, or physics required. Must have experience writing code in multiple languages including Python, C++, and Matlab, and be comfortable designing and building small mechanical and electronic devices. Must have an interest in neuroscience and working closely with biologists on engineering approaches, willingness and ability to rapidly assimilate new fields of knowledge, from machine vision algorithms to electronic circuit design, for the purpose of building functional electro-mechanical devices or completing medium-sized coding projects, ability to clearly communicate engineering principles, design, and coding with biologists and have the capacity to work collaboratively with members of the lab to optimize systems and coding as experimental needs require. A comfort with, and basic understanding of, mechanical and electronic-circuit design, alongside fabrication methods (milling, lathing, etc.) is expected. Must be able to work both independently and closely with biologists to accomplish a complete project cycle, from design through fabrication. Must be excited by the opportunity to rapidly assimilate new information for the purpose of solving varied computational and design challenges. Must have the ability to multitask and assist in the design and optimization of different systems simultaneously to support multiple ongoing and evolving projects. Must be detail-oriented, accurate, and creative in the process of design development. Must be capable of working both independently and within a small team.
The Rockefeller University is an Equal Opportunity Employer - Minorities/Women/Disabled/Veterans