Lab Positions

"What makes the quality of a researcher’s inventiveness and imagination is the quality of his attention to hearing the voices of things." --Alexander Grothendiek

We seek students and postdocs who share the dream to understand vision. We value strong work ethic, independence, creativity, optimism, openness to new ideas, clarity of thought, and mathematical/programming skill. Previous experience is not essential, except as necessary to have aroused a deep and genuine curiosity about the scientific problems.

Post-doctoral fellows: please email your CV and a brief statement of research accomplishments, interests and career plans to Doris. See below the projects that we are particularly interested in.

PhD students: If you’d like to explore the possibility of working with us as a graduate student, please first apply to Caltech graduate programs. We are most likely to work with students from Computation and Neural Systems, Biology and Biological Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Control and Dynamical Systems and we welcome exceptional students from all other backgrounds. Drop by Doris’s office and let’s talk science. Doing a short rotation project can help you see if this lab is a good fit for you.

Undergraduates: please email your CV and brief statement of research interests to Doris. Consider applying for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) at Caltech.

Semantic representation in the monkey using fMRI and electrophysiology
Research over the past decades has clarified how early representations of visual inputs in retinotopic visual areas are transformed to compact, high-level visual object codes in inferotemporal (IT) cortex. But how these high-level visual object codes are transformed into even higher-level semantic codesthat can directly guide internal action goals remains unclear. We propose to tackle the problem of semantic visual coding through experiments leveraging the macaque face patch system. Two key questions are: 1) What is the high-level semantic code for objects in the brain?  2) How can high-level semantic representations re-activate/modulate sensory representations? Functional magnetic resonanceimaging (fMRI) studies have shown that visual imagery activates a network of frontal parietal regions as well asvisual areas selective to faces and scenes during passive viewing. But fMRI gives only a blurry picture. We propose to use fMRI-guided electrophysiology to investigate the detailed neural dynamics underlying semantic representation across prefrontal cortex, the medial temporal lobe, and inferotemporal cortex. Our ability to target face patches gives us huge leverage to dissect how high-level sensory cortex responds to internally driven, “offline” activation of sensory representations. Successful applicants should have experience with imaging, electrophysiology, and computational analysis, and a deep interest in the neural underpinnings of semantic representation.  For more information please contact Doris.

Postdoctoral positions on the Neuronal Basis of Decision Making and Hemodynamic Activity in the Prefrontal Cortex
The O’Doherty and Tsao labs at the California Institute of Technology in collaboration with Dr. Daeyeol Lee at Yale University are seeking candidates for two postdoctoral positions in neuroscience. Successful applicants will be part of a collaborative project supported by the BRAIN initiative aimed at elucidating the relationship between neuronal activity and hemodynamic responses in the prefrontal cortex, particularly regarding the representation of value, decision and reward signals. The project will involve acquiring single and multi-unit electrophysiological data as well as implementing fMRI experiments in non-human primates and ultimately in human patients. Preference will be given to candidates with prior experience in the electrophysiological recording of neuronal activity. A prior background in the training and implementation of cognitive tasks in non-human primates would be desirable. Experience with and knowledge of computational models of reinforcement-learning and other models of decision-making would be useful and prior experience of fMRI experiments and data analysis would be an advantage.  For more information please contact John O’Doherty jdoherty@caltech.edu, and/or Doris Tsao, doristsao@caltech.edu . To apply please send a cover letter, curriculum vitae and the names of 3 referees to Ms. Mary Martin: mmartin@caltech.edu.

Postdoctoral position in labs of Doris Tsao and David Fitzpatrick to study mechanisms for visual perception in tree shrew extrastriate cortex
The tree shrew provides an exciting model for studying vision, complementing traditional organisms such as the macaque monkey and the mouse.  Its small size, short generation time, and flat cortex make it amenable to circuit dissection using powerful tools such as cell-type specific genetic targeting, optogenetics, and large-scale calcium imaging.  At the same time, it has ~ 10 times the visual acuity of a mouse and ~ 30 degrees of binocular overlap, making it a potentially better model organism for the study of vision than the mouse.  The labs of Doris Tsao and David Fitzpatrick seek a talented postdoc to work on a joint project to dissect mechanisms for visual object representation in tree shrew extrastriate cortex, focusing initially on questions related to visual segmentation.  Applicants should have expertise in one or more of the following: rodent/primate electrophysiology, two photon imaging, behavioral analysis, and computation.  In addition, the applicant will need to be able to travel between Jupiter, Florida and Pasadena, California.  If interested, please contact Doris Tsao (dortsao@caltech.edu) and David Fitzpatrick  (David.Fitzpatrick@mpfi.org) with a CV and two references.

Postdoctoral position in rodent vision
A postdoctoral position is available to study mechanisms for visual object segmentation in the awake rodent in the Tsao lab at Caltech.  How does the brain dynamically link all the pixels belonging to a persistent visual object over space and time? We hypothesize that this is a fundamental function of rodent vision, and we want to apply the full arsenal of rodent neural circuit dissection tools including two-photon imaging and electrophysiology to understand the underlying mechanisms. Candidates should have a PhD in Neuroscience or related discipline, be highly motivated, have strong quantitative skills, and work well with others. Experience with two photon imaging and/or electrophysiology in rodents is especially welcome.  The project is funded by a five year NIH Pioneer Grant.  Applicants should send a letter of interest and CV to Doris.

Postdoctoral Fellowship In Neural Mechanisms of Ultrasonic Neuromodulation
The laboratories of Mikhail Shapiro and Doris Tsao at the California Institute of Technology are seeking a post-doctoral fellow to research the molecular, cellular and circuit mechanisms of ultrasonic neuromodulation. This work is supported by a BRAIN Initiative grant from the NIH. Modulation of brain and peripheral nerve activity with ultrasound has shown great promise in model organisms and humans, and has the potential to translate into the clinic. Understanding the mechanism(s) by which ultrasonic neuromodulation works is the major unanswered question in this field. The Tsao and Shapiro labs are using their unique capabilities in neuroscience, biophysics and ultrasound to pursue this question at the level of molecules, cells and circuits in vitro and in vivo. All of the infrastructure needed to do the research is in place. Caltech is a top global university and provides a vibrant environment for post-doctoral fellows to pursue unique multidisciplinary projects such as the one described here. More information on the Shapiro and Tsao labs can be found at http://shapirolab.caltech.edu and http://tsaolab.caltech.edu. A successful applicant will have (or be close to completing) a PhD in neuroscience, biophysics or bioengineering and experience in optical imaging, electrophysiology or ultrasound in cells, slices or rodents. Salary will be competitive and based on experience. Applicants should send their CV and statement of interest to mikhail@caltech.edu and dortsao@caltech.edu.