Opportunities

Opportunities to join the Sponberg Group

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Specific positions will be posted below as they arise.

However, we always welcome inquires from undergrads, graduate students, and postdocs with backgrounds in physics, physiology, biomechanics, neuroscience, or engineering interested in studying agile systems!

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1-2 postdoctoral positions available in physics of living systems, dynamic systems, and neuroscience (fulltime w/ benefits, start date between fall 2018 and fall 2019).

Applicants from a broad range of fields will be considered, but candidates with experience in neurophysiology, dynamic systems, quantitative biology, computational neuroscience, or experimental fluids are especially encouraged to apply. The lab group is primarily experimental. At least one position is meant for work connecting non-linear dynamics to locomotion by examining questions of the neural basis of precision in motor control. A related project will examine how simple dynamic systems models that capture robustness and flexibility in movement control are realized in neural and neuromuscular circuits. One position will prefer candidates with experimental neuroscience skills. Other projects are possible related to the ongoing lab activities of unsteady flight, information processing in nearly complete population recordings, locomotor stability, and biological system identification. Funding is available for at least two years, with a third year extension likely.
Interested candidates should send a CV, and 1-2 paragraphs about background, goals, and research interests to me via email (sponberg@gatech.edu). Questions about the position can be directed to me as well.

A full-time research technician position is available (40 hrs/week + benefits, available immediately until filled).

The lab tech's responsibilities include ~10 hours/wk of lab support (ordering, inventory, procedures) and animal care (primarily ordering and caring for insect colonies). The remaining time is dedicated to research activities in collaboration with the PI. This position is an ideal 1-3 year position for a recent post-bac student interested in exploring research in biophysics, comparative organismal biology, fluid mechanics, neurobiology or biomechanics in preparation for graduate school. Candidates interested in engaging with the research of the lab and participating in their own research project are preferred. A science-based bachelors degree is required and some lab experience is highly preferred.
Applicants should send a C.V. and/or resumé along with a short ~1-2 paragraph statement of interest to me (sponberg@gatech.edu) directly.

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Contact Simon

Who should apply and what to expect

The science of movement is inherently interdisciplinary. No one field holds all the answers. We seek students from a variety of backgrounds from physics to biology to engineering. Emphasis will be placed on creating a strong interdisciplinary team where each individual has established research domains, but benefits from the multidisciplinary environment. Students with interests and skills in any of the following may find a good fit with the lab:

  • Physics of living systems
  • Comparative biomechanics -- especially motor control
  • Active soft matter
  • Muscle physiology
  • Electrophysiology -- especially in intact, behaving animals
  • Computational neuroscience or neurophysics
  • Experimental fluid mechanics
  • Classical dynamic systems
  • Control theory and system identification of biological/bio-inspired systems
  • Robophysics and experimental robotics

How to apply

The first step is making contact. E-mail Simon. Please include a brief description of your background and research interests.

Specific opportunities & funding

The Sponberg Lab has several openings for graduate students and postdocs. These include, but are not limited to, the following three specific areas of interest:

  1. Sensorimotor control of locomotor tracking tasks using robotic stimuli and virtual sensory worlds.

  2. Coordination and organization of the motor program across many muscles during locomotion, with an particularly emphasis on (Shannon) entropy/information based approaches.

  3. The multiscale physics of muscle -- muscle function during perturbed, periodic motion and the properties of the contractile machinery that enables multifunctionality.

All students and postdocs are encouraged to write individual fellowships. If you you are interested in teaming with the lab to target an such an opportunity, please contact me. Funding exists for some grad students and postdocs. Other opportunities and sources of funding may also be available.

Affiliated academic programs

Professor Sponberg can formally advise graduate students in the following programs:

Advising is also possible through the other engineering and science schools at Georgia Tech. Undergraduates from any discipline are welcome if their interests align with the lab and they are eager to contribute.

Foundations

We have three conceptual foundations: Biomechanics -- the analysis of animals’ mechanics and the physical structures than enable movement. Neuroscience -- the computations and mechanisms underlying how animals acquire, process and act upon information, and Muscle Physiology -- the study of how muscles transform the electrical signals of the nervous system into force, strain, and work. These foundations are tied together by the theme of studying the Physics of Living Systems.

What animals do we work with?

Much of the lab’s work relies on invertebrates, particularly insects, because of their robust behaviors, tractable electrophysiological signals (e.g. discrete patterns of neural and muscular activation), general accessibility, and the fundamental idea that despite being quite tiny systems, they realize a wide diversity of forms and behaviors. While future work will likely take advantage of these systems, the lab is not organism specific. We apply the principle of using systems that are advantageous in their extreme behavior, experimental tractability, or comparative perspective (Krogh, 1929). As we move towards a maturing of the integrative science of movement at the whole organism level, we will turn to whatever system allows us to best understanding the physics and physiology of locomotion.

Our tools and techniques

  • High-speed imaging and real-time motion capture
  • Low-speed wind tunnel for small animal flight in laminar and unsteady flows
  • Micro-implantation and instrumentation facilities
  • Reconfigurable behavioral arenas
  • Electrophysiology rigs for tethered and reduced preparations
  • Dynamic material characterization of muscles
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Computational resources
  • Time-resolved, small angle x-ray diffraction through living muscle tissue
    (via trips to the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Labs)