(This specific position has been filled.)
Neural Mechanisms of Active Sensing
PI: Noah J. Cowan
Animals, including humans, use movement to sense the world. For example, to sense the texture of an object, a person might move her hand over the surface, whereas to measure the object’s weight, she might hold it in her palm and move it up and down. This use of purposeful movements to sense features of the environment is called active sensing. The goal of this project is to reveal and describe neural and behavioral mechanisms underlying active sensing. The central hypothesis is that organisms adjust active movements in order to tune the resulting sensory feedback to match processing features of CNS circuits. This is a challenging problem because sensory inputs and motor outputs are linked by a closed loop. We overcome this challenge by exploiting unique features of a well-suited animal model, weakly electric fishes, and through the application of a new experimental paradigm that includes neurophysiological recordings in freely swimming fish. This system will be used to quantify neuromechanical control strategies for the production and modulation of movements for active sensing, and to identify the network, cellular, and synaptic mechanisms in the neural circuits that control active movements.
Desired Qualifications: PhD in Engineering, Neuroscience, Biology or related fields.
If you are interested, send a single PDF file to email@example.com containing the following documents:
- Brief cover letter stating your interests and background.
- CV (not more than 4 pages) including publications and a list of 4 references (include name, affiliation, address, e-mail, phone number)
- Brief (1 page) statement of research experience (1-2 paragraphs) and future research interests (1-2 paragraphs).
- One or two scientific papers, ideally with you as the first author. These papers can include peer-reviewed conference papers or journal papers (accepted or in press is OK).
We are particularly interested in scientists with training in integrative biology, neuroscience, and/or animal behavior excited about contributing to and learning from a systems/controls/engineering approach to analysis of biological systems.
Graduate Student Positions
Prof. Cowan recruits 0-2 graduate students per year for research in the fields of robotics and biological systems. For prospective graduate students interested in admission (typically for Fall enrollment cycle), you must submit a complete official application for consideration. You can apply through Prof. Cowan’s primary department of Mechanical Engineering or through one of his secondary departments of Neuroscience, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering. Your undergraduate field of study need not be one of these disciplines; for example, physicists, electrical engineers, applied mathematicians, and biologists with a strong mathematics and computational background are encouraged to apply.
If you are interested in working in the LIMBS laboratory be sure to mention your interest in Prof. Cowan’s laboratory in your written statement. Unfortunately, Prof. Cowan is unable pre-evaluate your application and may not be able to respond to each pre-application email inquiry.
Undergraduate Student Positions
We usually have several undergraduate student researchers working in the LIMBS Lab each year. We look for students who are proactive, responsible, independent, good “lab citizens”, and with a strong academic record. We have to limit the number undergraduate student researchers due to the availability of mentors, but we always have a lot of ideas for undergraduate research projects.
Prospective undergraduate researchers from JHU should email Prof. Cowan their resume and unofficial transcript. Prof. Cowan’s website has more information on working in his lab.
Teaching Assistant Positions
This is only for current JHU graduate and undergraduate students; the ME Department does not admit new graduate students as TAs.
Each of Dr. Cowan’s classes uses one or more teaching assistants. However, currently all positions are filled.