The LIMBS Laboratory is a highly interdisciplinary research group at the nexus of robotics, neuroscience, and integrative biomechanics. Our students and postdoctoral scholars perform cutting-edge research in engineering, integrative biology, and neuroscience and publish in top field-specific journals and interdisciplinary journals. We are fortunate to collaborate with some of the best scientists in the world, many of whom are right here at JHU. Our students and postdocs go on to successful academic and industrial careers and become thought leaders in their fields. If you are interested in becoming a member of this research group, please read below.

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Post-Doc Positions

Cross-modal sensory interactions, processing, and representation in the Drosophila brain

Robust navigation is critical for survival. How does the brain form a coherent representation from potentially conflicting multisensory information, correct errors from perturbations, and generate robust behaviors? Our team will answer this question using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, with its rich suite of complex behaviors, full brain connectome, and powerful genetic and physiological tools.

We are in search of innovative and curious postdoctoral fellows to achieve this vision. Applicants should have a PhD, an excellent publication record, be curious, and excited to learn. Postdocs will receive training in cutting-edge techniques in neuroscience, drawing on our team’s diverse and complimentary expertise in animal behavior, physiology, two-photon microscopy, physics, and control theory. Trainees will travel between multiple investigator’s labs to foster collaboration and facilitate sharing of technical expertise creating a unique opportunity to train with a team of labs with diverse approaches and obtain holistic neuroscience training and mentorship.

To apply, please send your CV, contact information for 2–3 references, and a brief description of research achievements and interest to Prof. Cowan. This collaborative project is funded by a collaborative NIH BRAIN Initiative grant (1U01NS131438). See information about our collaborators’ labs in this PDF.

Laboratory Technician

The Locomotion in Mechanical and Biological Systems (LIMBS) laboratory is seeking a research technologist to work in a highly dynamic and interdisciplinary engineering and neuroscience laboratory on the Homewood campus at the Johns Hopkins University. The LIMBS lab develops and applies advanced experimental and modeling techniques to study the interplay between neural systems and biomechanics in a wide range of biological systems (see https://limbs.lcsr.jhu.edu/ for more information). Duties include building, maintaining, and programming custom experimental hardware; training animals in behavioral tasks; assisting in collection of data; analysis of behavioral and neurophysiological data; ordering lab supplies; and upkeep of animal care facility as well as general lab maintenance. Flexible hours, including some weekends, is a requirement.

Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in engineering, physics, computer science, neuroscience, or related fields is essential and prior experience in a laboratory setting is highly desirable. Strong technical skills in one or more areas (e.g. computer skills such as programming in Matlab, facility with hand tools, knowledge of basic hardware/electronics) are desirable.

Interested? Please send a single PDF including a brief (1 page) cover letter and resume / cv (no more than 2 pages, including a list of 2 references) to [email protected]

Prospective Graduate Students

Graduate recruiting is idiosyncratic and varies between universities, graduate programs and/or departments within a university, and labs within a program or department. The purpose of this text is to explain how things work in several programs at Johns Hopkins, and in my laboratory in particular, as well as give you information about how to apply to become a part of the LIMBS laboratory working with Prof. Cowan as a thesis advisor.

At Johns Hopkins, some graduate programs (such as the Biomedical Engineering Department and Neuroscience Graduate Program) admit a cohort of students in a “pool” who then perform research rotations. This model has its advantages for the students in terms of flexibility: your advisor is not “assigned” to you at the time of matriculation. Other programs, such as the Mechanical Engineering Department’s PhD program, admit students either directly to a lab, or in some cases create an offer letter that lists a handful of possible advisors, based on a conversation between the student and potential advisors. These conversations generally occur after the student has applied so all of her or his applications materials have been reviewed by the appropriate faculty members.

Prof. Cowan maintains a research group of about 5 PhD students, and therefore recruits 0-2 graduate students per year for research in the fields of robotics and/or biological systems research. Prospective graduate students interested in admission (typically for Fall enrollment cycle) must submit a complete official application for consideration; Prof. Cowan cannot “pre-evaluate” graduate applications. You may apply through Prof. Cowan’s primary department of Mechanical Engineering or through another graduate program that he is a member of, such as Biomedical Engineering, Computer ScienceElectrical and Computer Engineering. Your undergraduate field of study need not be one of these disciplines; for example, physicists, applied mathematicians, and biologists with a strong mathematical and/or 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. You may also send Prof. Cowan a brief personal email, especially after you have applied to one of the above programs. Unfortunately, Prof. Cowan is unable to pre-evaluate your application and may not be able to respond to each pre-application email inquiry.

JHU Graduate Program Rotations

In addition to Prof. Cowan’s primary appointment in Mechanical Engineering, he also participates in the graduate programs of several programs, including Biomedical Engineering, Computer ScienceElectrical and Computer Engineering. Prof. Cowan routinely provides rotation projects for students in these programs. Some of these projects have evolved into thesis projects. If you are currently a student at JHU in one of these programs, a simple email to Prof. Cowan is all that is needed to apply. Please include a bit of information, such as CV and a list of courses you’ve taken at JHU (or an unofficial transcript), as well as a brief description of your research interests.

Prospective MSE students (already at JHU)

Prospective MSE students who are already enrolled at JHU should [email protected] email Prof. Cowan their resume, unofficial JHU transcript, and (unofficial) undergraduate transcript. Prof . Cowan does not direct admit MSE students into his lab before matriculation to our program. If you are a new MSE student, please email Prof. Cowan to meet him during your first semester (or later) to discuss the possibility of MSE research.

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 have a strong academic record. We have to limit the number of 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 protected] 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.