Assistant Project Scientist Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute

University of California Berkeley

Job type: academic administration

Application deadline: October 29, 2015

The Helen Wills Neurosciences Institute (HWNI), at the University of California Berkeley, seeks a Behavioral Neuroscientist to perform research in the neural basis of complex sound perception with an emphasis on studying the neural computations that are involved in extracting meaning for communication calls. The successful candidate will be expected to conduct original research in the songbird model system to decipher the computations performed by the avian auditory cortex to generate invariant representations of the category of communications calls (semantic coding) and of the identity of the caller (voice coding).

The project scientist will be involved in experimental design, the execution of experiments and data analysis. The experiments consists of acoustical recordings of communication calls in semi-natural conditions, behavioral measurements of auditory discrimination abilities using conditioning paradigm and neurophysiological recordings in both anesthetized and awake behaving zebra finches. The data analyses involve using machine learning techniques both to analyze sound signals as well as to model the response of single neurons and neuronal ensembles.

The candidate will work in the laboratory of Professor Frederic Theunissen. The Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute is on the Berkeley campus, offering a collegial and stimulating work environment. The candidate will be part of a team of neuroscientists that includes graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. The candidate may also obtain further training in computational neurosciences by auditing courses or attending seminars.

Minimum/Basic Qualifications required at time of application:

Ph.D. or equivalent foreign degree in Behavioral or Computational Neurosciences or a closely related field.

Additional Qualifications required by start date:

  • The candidate must have expertise in neurophysiological recording techniques, preferably in the auditory system, and in animal behavior techniques.
  • The candidate must also have expertise in audio signal analysis, advanced statistical methods (machine learning) and computational neurosciences.
  • Programming experience in Matlab or Python is required.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Qualified candidates are expected to work independently and as part of a team, be self-motivated, have critical thinking abilities and good written and oral communication skills.
  • Postdoctoral experience is desirable.

The initial appointment will be full-time for two years, with the possibility of extension. Salary will be commensurate with experience. This position is open until filled, with an anticipated start date in January 2016.

How to apply:

To apply, please go to the following link: Applicants should submit the following materials:

  • A cover letter
  • A curriculum vitae
  • Statement of Research (One-page summary of research interests)
  • Contact information for 3 references

Letters of reference are not required at this time. We will seek your permission before contacting your references. All letters will be treated as confidential per University of California policy and California state law. Please refer potential referees, including when letters are provided via a third party (i.e., dossier service or career center), to the UC Berkeley statement of confidentiality:

If you have any difficulty uploading your application or any questions, please email Sila Alvarenga at

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age or protected veteran status. For the complete University of California nondiscrimination and affirmative action policy see:


Posted: October 15, 2015