POSTDOC & PhD POSITIONS AVAILABLE!!
with Iain Couzin, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior (posted May 2019)
Location: Konstanz, Germany
Duration: 1 year, available immediately (with possibility of renewal)
We seek a motivated postdoctoral/PhD candidates to work in several projects
1. Analysis of ultra-high resolution 3D tracking data to understand bird social behavior
The candidate will be part of an interdisciplinary, international team to study collective sensing and decision-making in birds. The candidate will have access to a newly-developed, fully automatic, 3D tracking technology developed for birds and deployed in a large (15 x 7 x 4m) state-of-the art indoor aviary at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Konstanz/Radolfzell. In addition to 3D tracking this aviary is instrumented for automatic call localisation, allowing the study of multimodal (visual and acoustic) communication. Research questions of interest include innovation, cognition, social learning, individual and collective sensing / decision-making.
2. Development of computational tools to study collective animal behavior
We are particularly interested in machine learning (e.g. deep-learning) methodology for behavioral analysis, and especially the translation of sensory cues/signals into behavioral decisions. A recent example of the type of technology we have already developed, see: Graving et al., “Fast and robust animal pose estimation“.
3. Utilization of immersive Virtual Reality to understand individual and collective decision-making
In this project the candidate will employ a new immersive Virtual Reality system for freely moving animals to investigate the sensory basis of schooling in fish in the Couzin Lab. This project will integrate VR and conventional experimentation to map how properties such as rate, and timing, of turning and/or acceleration/deceleration, as well as the position on the retina prior to, or during, behavioral change impacts movement decisions of focal real fish. Of particular interest will be how individuals integrate information, such as changes in motion of others (e.g. turning, startle behavior), in space (different regions of the visual field) and time (the time between the observed changes). These data will be used to determine the algorithms employed by zebrafish when making movement decisions. We will work with colleagues in the Computer Science department to seek machine learning methodology that allows the unsupervised identification of the visual features that are maximally-informative regarding individual decisions in a collective context
4. Connecting Individual Differences to the Functional Complexity of Animal Groups (open ended Postdoc position)
- Spreading dynamics describe how easily a response by an individual to a stimulus, such as a threat, target, or source of data, spreads through a networked group of individuals. Spreading dynamics underlie the dynamics of collective decision-making and search.
- Decision-making and search dynamics describe how individuals and the group as a whole make choices among alternatives: for example, choosing which alternative is true, which action to take, which direction or motion pattern to follow, or when something in the environment or in the state of the system has changed. Decision-making under limited information and uncertainty is fundamental to search tasks in which individuals must choose among options in order to find a target or peak in an uncertain distributed ﬁeld.
- Multiple task management describes how tasks such as search and threat avoidance are carried out simultaneously given costs, benefits, and limited resources that derive from complex, real-world environments. Spreading and decision-making dynamics are fundamental to multiple task management.
- Implementing python code into the VICON software to address researchers’ need
- Organising and managing the experiment timetable coordinating with researchers who are using the facilities
- Calibrating the camera system prior to experiments
- Maintaining the VICON; microphone array, and associated systems
- Consulting with researchers’ experimental design in regard to the VICON system’s strengths and limitations
- Assisting with extracting, processing and storing experimental data and assistance with setting up experiments with a diverse range of organisms
- University degree in biology, physics, computer science, or a related scientific field
- Interest in collective animal behaviour
- Good English in word and writing
- Organisational and management skills
- Some knowledge, or interest in learning, programming languages (python, C++, MatLab, etc.)
- Willingness to work with and handle a variety of animal species including insects, birds and bats (no previous experience required)
- Willingness to work with your hands (i.e. building experimental equipment, etc.)
- Willingness to work with a diverse and international community of people
- Flexibility and problem-solving skills
- Enthusiastic and positive outlook
- Good development opportunities, extensive training and an attractive remuneration package.
Candidates will work in a dynamic research environment, and will be based in the Department of Collective Behaviour ( see http://collectivebehaviour.com/) at the University of Konstanz in the historic city of Konstanz in Southern Germany. The University of Konstanz one of the nine “elite universities” in Germany. The University has almost 12,000 students and is situated on a hill overlooking Lake Constance, the Island of Mainau and Mainau Forest. The campus is a short cycle or bus ride from the city centre. Konstanz has a large and well preserved old town (Altstadt), and a vibrant day and nightlife, including many museums, galleries, and parks. Our nearest airport is Zurich approximately 50 mins drive / 1hr5mins direct train. The Max Planck Institutes and the University of Konstanz focus on excellence in research and the successful applicant will benefit from outstanding infrastructure, opportunities for training and a highly collaborative and international research environment.
Our working language is English and consequently applicants must be fluent in this language; no knowledge of German is required. This appointment is for one year initially, with the possibility of renewal based on satisfactory performance. Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience, and benefits are included.
The University of Konstanz and the Max Planck Society are committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in their workforce and therefore we encourage applications from such qualified individuals. Furthermore, we seek to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply. We offer extensive support to help researchers balance professional and home life, including assistance with childcare and support of the elderly, and flexibility in how employees arrange working hours. For details see http://www.mpg.de/equal_opportunities.
For further information regarding this position please contact Iain Couzin firstname.lastname@example.org.
This position is available immediately, and will be open until filled. To apply please send an email to Iain Couzin (Director) email@example.com, including a statement of interest (including possible research directions) and CV in PDF format.
We welcome applicants for visiting or resident PhD, postdoctoral or PI positions, as well as sabbatical visitors. There are excellent funding opportunities to conduct research in Germany.
For those interested in postdoctoral positions the following links may be helpful:
Humboldt research fellowships for postdocs. Application: any time. https://www.humboldt-foundation.de/web/humboldt-fellowship-postdoc.html
Marie Curie fellowships. Application deadline: September 14.https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/portal/desktop/en/opportunities/h2020/calls/h2020-msca-if-2017.html#c,topics=callIdentifier/t/H2020-MSCA-IF-2017/1/1/1/default-group&callStatus/t/Forthcoming/1/1/0/default-group&callStatus/t/Open/1/1/0/default-group&callStatus/t/Closed/1/1/0/default-group&+identifier/desc
DFG (Candidates can apply as PI). Application: any time: http://www.dfg.de/en/research_funding/faq/faq_temporary_positions/index.html
Emmy Noether Program for Independent Group Leaders (6 year positions): http://www.dfg.de/en/research_funding/programmes/individual/emmy_noether/in_brief/index.html
Human Frontiers postdoc fellowships. Application deadline: August 24.http://www.hfsp.org/funding/postdoctoral-fellowships
Freigeist fellowship VW foundation. Application deadline: October 12.https://www.volkswagenstiftung.de/nc/en/funding/our-funding-portfolio-at-a-glance/freigeist-fellowships.html?tx_itaofundinginitiative_itaofundinginitiativelist%5Bcontroller%5D=FundingInitiative&cHash=29d4f3d9556a5d7f02d3a438b7a91ac7
Zukunftskolleg fellowships: Application: after call. https://www.uni-konstanz.de/zukunftskolleg/
Please contact the relevant host PI (Iain, Damien or Alex) for further information.