The Wu Tsai Institute (WTI) is a new neuroscience institute at Yale that seeks to understand human cognition and explore human potential by establishing an inclusive and interdisciplinary community spanning the biological, psychological, and computational sciences. People, collaborations, and diverse perspectives are at the heart of WTI's mission. To this end, we are announcing a new postdoctoral fellowship program to attract and foster the career success of a new generation of integrative scientists.
The Wu Tsai Postdoctoral Fellowship program seeks applications from soon-to-be or recent doctorates interested in joining our vibrant scientific community. We are particularly interested in applications from scientists with a genuine commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in science and who represent a diversity of backgrounds, perspectives, and identities, including those from backgrounds historically underrepresented in the sciences, as defined by the NIH.
Fellows will work in different priority research areas identified annually through a competitive search (initial cohort below) and are also welcomed to apply to a general open call if they have other research interests consistent with the WTI mission. To promote interdisciplinary training and grow professional networks, Fellows will be co-mentored by two or more Yale faculty members working in different departments, research areas, levels of analysis, and/or techniques. Co-mentors have been selected in part based on their track record of mentoring and evidence of establishing inclusive and supportive research environments. Fellows will pursue collaborative research that drives scientific discoveries about the mind through an integrative study of the brain.
Priority research areas for recruitment in this cycle are listed below. Candidates are welcome to apply to one of the following opportunities:
Priority Area A - Uncovering the molecular basis of neuroticism, a fundamental personality trait.Co-Mentors: Kristen Brennand (Psychiatry); Chris Cotsapas (Neurology). The WTI Fellow will identify neuronal and glia regulatory elements harboring neuroticism-associated DNA variants and predict the effect these variants have on gene expression and cell function. The Fellow will develop massively parallel reporter assays to test predictions in neuronal and glial subtypes and assay the effects of neuroticism variants on the patterning, maturation and function of the major cell types of the brain. Candidates should have the drive and experience to bridge computational and experimental approaches and expertise in stem cell biology, neuroscience, massively parallel reporter assays and high-throughput CRISPR-based genomic manipulations, and/or statistical genetics and epigenetics. Desire to apply this expertise to psychiatric genetics is essential.
Priority Area B - Learning the language of thought: machine learning to infer spatio-temporal rules of cognition from mesoscopic calcium imaging data. Co-Mentors: Jessica Cardin (Neuroscience); David van Dijk (Internal Medicine and Computer Science). This project will involve the development of cutting-edge machine learning methods for newly developed large-scale brain imaging techniques using calcium indicators. These algorithms will be used to relate spatiotemporal patterns of brain activity to cognitive processes and spontaneous and task-based behaviors. The project will impact both the computer science and neuroscience communities. Candidates should have a background in computer science, applied math, computational biology, or other engineering discipline, and experience working with large datasets. Candidates should also have a strong interest (but not necessarily experience) in neuroscience and in the application of advanced algorithms to large datasets with the goal of inferring fundamental principles of cognition.
Priority Area C - Toward the neural bases of cooperative social interactions. Co-Mentors: Steve Chang (Psychology), Monika Jadi (Psychiatry), Anirvan Nandy (Neuroscience). The WTI Fellow will be part of an exciting collaborative research team investigating the neural mechanisms underlying complex social interactions in marmosets. The Fellow will leverage state-of-the-art behavioral, neural, and computational techniques to unravel prefrontal mechanisms underlying cooperation. The project will involve wireless collection of neural data from multiple freely moving marmosets to discover causal dependencies between neural and behavioral factors within the context of cooperative social interactions. Candidates should have research experience in at least two of the following areas: non-human primate behavior, electrophysiology, or computational analysis. The Fellow will be expected to work synergistically across three laboratories, collecting and analyzing rich behavioral and neural data.
Priority Area D - The functional genomics of human cognition: from molecular and cellular processes to large-scale brain networks. Co-Mentors: Avram Holmes (Psychology), Nenad Sestan (Neuroscience).Although cognitive and behavioral traits exhibit heritability, knowledge of the mechanisms by which genetic variation is linked to such traits remains limited, partly because of the difficulty in building models that integrate genetics across multiple levels of structure in the human brain. The WTI Fellow will conduct research that links data across genetics, functional genomics, neuroimaging, and behavioral domains to improve our understanding of the principles through which cellular diversity influences brain function across the lifespan. Applicants should have demonstrated expertise in clinical, cognitive, or translational, or network neuroscience, computational biology, or genetics. Candidates with experience in computer science, data science, statistics, or related fields are also strongly encouraged to apply.
Open Area - We welcome applications for other integrative explorations seeking to understand the mind through an integrated study of brain and behavior. If you are an early-career researcher excited about joining the WTI community, but do not fit the priority research areas above, we still welcome your application. We are particularly interested in candidates from diverse backgrounds who are interested in foundational research (i.e., not disease focused) with expertise in molecular and cellular neuroscience, systems and cognitive neuroscience, computational neuroscience, psychology, data science, artificial intelligence, biomedical engineering, brain-machine interfaces, and neuroethology. Applications in this track will be considered depending on mentor and funding availability.
Award and Expectations
WTI Fellows will receive:
Postdoctoral Associate appointment at Yale. Funding for a maximum of three years, given satisfactory progress upon annual review.
A competitive stipend ($60,000), with a cost-of-living increase in subsequent years, as well as health benefits and discretionary funds for professional development (e.g., conference, computer, travel, etc.)
Access to cohort-based professional development and community-building activities, including monthly cohort meetings, the ability to invite and host speakers, social activities, grant writing and skill-building workshops, and career preparation activities.
Access to cutting-edge space, equipment, facilities, and services in the upcoming new home of WTI at 100 College Street in New Haven, CT.
Fellows are expected to:
Begin their appointment by the Spring of 2022, if possible.
Agree to the WTI code of conduct and an advising compact with their Co-mentors.
Attend a postdoc orientation, run through the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, and additional WTI welcome events.
Participate in WTI activities and devote up to 10% of their time toward professional development, service and community-building
Cover letter - Please identify the priority research area to which you are applying (see above). Describe your interest in the interdisciplinary mission of the WTI and why you are interested in joining our community and becoming part of this program (1 page).
Research statement- Summarize prior research experiences and contributions and describe your postdoctoral research interests. We are particularly interested in how you envision advancing understanding of human cognition, though this can be achieved through study of model systems and computational/theoretical approaches (2 pages, inclusive of figures but not references).
DEI statement - Please describe how your unique background, identity, or experience will contribute to diversity, equity or inclusion at WTI, Yale, and in science(2 pages).
Two letters of recommendation- One letter must be from your thesis advisor(s). The letters should address the quality, originality, and independence of your research and potential. Letters must be received by the submission deadline. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.
Curriculum vitae - Please provide a current CV, including papers that are published, in press, or deposited in preprint server (e.g., bioRxiv or arXiv).
Applications will be selected by an internal WTI committee based on the following criteria:
Scientific excellence: Evidence of academic achievement, promise of continuing achievement as independent researcher, and likelihood of successful placement in next career stage (e.g., tenure-track faculty position).
Fostering diversity, equity and inclusion: Self-identifying as being a member of a group that is underrepresented in science, as defined by the NIH, and/or demonstrating a commitment to advancing DEI through scientific approach and practices and/or institutional and community service.
Interdisciplinary orientation: Evidence of working across scientific boundaries and/or compelling justification for why an interdisciplinary approach will help the Fellow advance their scientific and/or professional goals, eagerness to learn new skills (e.g., experimental techniques for a theoretician, computational modeling for an experimentalist).
Community-mindedness: Eager to lead or help organize activities and contribute to life of WTI.
Yale University is an American private Ivy League research university located in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States.