[Comp-neuro] PhD studentship in computational neuroscience (gait
gait transition in the salamander) at EPFL, Lausanne Switzerland
auke.ijspeert at epfl.ch
Mon Aug 18 18:07:00 CEST 2008
*One funded PhD student position in computational neuroscience: /gait
generation and gait transition/**/ in the salamander/
The Biologically Inspired Robotics Group (BIRG, http://birg.epfl.ch/) in
the School of Computer and Communication Sciences at EPFL (Lausanne,
Switzerland) has one open PhD studentship in computational neuroscience.
The position is part of a project funded by the Swiss SystemsX
initiative in systems biology (see http://www.systemsx.ch/) in
collaboration with Dr Thierry Wannier (Univ. Fribourg) and Prof.
Jean-Marie Cabelguen (Univ. of Bordeaux).
The goal of this project is to use an interdisciplinary approach to
decode the mechanisms of gait generation and gait transition in the
salamander. The focus is on the locomotor circuits in the brain stem and
the spinal cord, in particular on decoding the interplay of descending
control and spinal rhythm generation in locomotor activities. Using an
interdisciplinary approach that combines neurophysiology, mathematical
theory of coupled oscillators, and numerical simulations, we will
address various questions concerning the mechanisms of gait transition
between swimming and walking in salamander.
The goal of the PhD thesis will be to develop models of the locomotor
neural networks based on systems of coupled nonlinear oscillators
representing the central pattern generator circuits of the salamander
spinal cord. In order to investigate the feedback loops between the
central nervous system, the body and the environment, these neural
network models will be bidirectionally coupled with a representation of
the salamander body, namely a 2D biomechanical simulation and a
salamander-like amphibious robot.
The expected impact of this project is a better understanding of the
functioning of the spinal cord and of the descending pathways during
locomotion in vertebrates. In the long term, such knowledge is
fundamental to help designing therapies for patients with spinal cord
injuries (SCIs). In the short term, this study will significantly
enhance our understanding of locomotor circuits in salamander.
Furthermore, since salamanders have capabilities of spinal regeneration
and locomotor recovery after SCI that are quite unique among
vertebrates, understanding the mechanisms of intact locomotion is
essential to be able to properly characterize how locomotor function is
Candidates need to have a Master degree. The ideal candidate for this
position should have a strong mathematical background (e.g., in
computational biology, mathematics, or physics), good programming
skills, and be interested in using mathematical models and robots as
tools to understand biology.
*How to apply:*
The application to the positions should consist of a motivation letter
(explaining why you are interested in the project, and why you feel
qualified for it), a CV, and a list of grades. Two (or more) letters of
reference should be sent directly by the referees (e.g. professors who
have supervised a research project) to Prof. Auke Ijspeert (emails are
preferred). Applicants will also need to apply to (and be accepted by)
one of the EPFL doctoral programs (see http://phd.epfl.ch/), the most
relevant being "Computer, communication and information sciences" and
Informal inquiries about the relevance of an application can be sent to
auke.ijspeert at epfl.ch <mailto:auke.ijspeert at epfl.ch> (e.g. before
submitting an application to the doctoral school), but responses can be
slow because of a heavy schedule and a filled mail box.
*Deadline and starting date:*
Applications are invited from today, and will be considered continuously
until the position is filled. The ideal starting date is the 1st of
October 2008 (or as soon as possible after that date).
Information concerning the type of research carried out by the group can
be found at http://birg.epfl.ch/. You should send your application and
any inquiry by email to:
Prof. Auke Jan Ijspeert <http://birg.epfl.ch/page27899.html>,
auke.ijspeert at epfl.ch <mailto:auke.ijspeert at epfl.ch>
School of Computer and Communication Sciences
EPFL, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
INN 237 <http://plan.epfl.ch/?room=INN237>
CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
Prof Auke Jan Ijspeert
SNF (Swiss National Science Foundation) Assistant Professor
School of Computer and Communication Sciences, EPFL
EPFL, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne
CH 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
Office: INN 237 Tel: +41 21 693 2658, Fax: +41 21 693 3705
www: http://birg.epfl.ch Email: Auke.Ijspeert at epfl.ch
Adjunct Assistant Professor,
Department of Computer Science, University of Southern California
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