Postdoctoral

Wu Tsai Postdoctoral Fellowships Phase I: Call for interdisciplinary faculty mentoring collaborations

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Opportunity

Through its centers, programs, and community, the Wu Tsai Institute (WTI) brings together leading researchers across the biological, psychological, and computational sciences to address fundamental and impactful questions about the mind and brain. People and collaborations are at the heart of WTI’s mission. To this end, WTI is committed to the mentoring and career development of a new generation of integrative scientists, including through the support of postdoctoral fellows who will advance interdisciplinary research and enrich Yale’s diversity and inclusion.

Each year, the WTI will recruit approximately 4 new Wu Tsai Postdoctoral Fellows to Yale for terms of up to 3 years. To promote interdisciplinary training and grow professional networks, Fellows will be co-mentored by two Yale faculty members working in different departments, research areas, levels of analysis, and/or techniques. Co-mentors must demonstrate a track record of (or commitment to, if junior) mentoring and placement of trainees and evidence of establishing inclusive and supportive environments. Fellows will pursue collaborative research that drives scientific discoveries about the mind through an integrated study of the brain.

The fellowship award process will include two phases:

  1. An internal call for mentoring collaboration proposals from Yale faculty
  2. An external call for postdoctoral applications to work under selected co-mentors

This call is for Phase 1 and should be completed by two faculty members at Yale wishing to enter into a co-mentoring arrangement with a postdoc who would advance a joint project in an area of research interest to the WTI.

Eligibility

Any two Yale tenure-track or tenured faculty members, from any department, with an interest in joining forces to study cognition broadly construed are encouraged to apply for a postdoctoral fellow position.

Incoming ladder faculty, scheduled to start in the Summer or Fall of 2021, are also welcomed to apply.

The faculty mentoring team should have a track record of successfully mentoring trainees, either as Principal Investigators, or in a previous career stage. Junior PIs will not be penalized for lack of mentoring experience at the faculty level. Faculty should also have a track record of supporting diversity and inclusion in their research environments.

Priority will be given to collaboration proposals that straddle different disciplines (e.g., computer science and molecular biology), that combine different scientific perspectives or approaches (e.g., behavioral research with artificial intelligence), or that propose work across scales (e.g., neurochemistry and brain imaging). See the WTI website for more information about WTI centers and priority areas of research. We hope that this call will foster and uncover new opportunities for collaboration between Yale labs.

This call will be made annually. Investigators who have an active Wu Tsai Postdoctoral Fellow will not be eligible to apply.

Award

Selected collaboration proposals will be eligible to recruit a Wu Tsai Postdoctoral Fellow, identified through a competitive search and interview process managed by WTI for the faculty co-mentors, who will make hiring decisions.

Fellows will receive a postdoctoral associate appointment at Yale, for a minimum of two years and a maximum of three years, given satisfactory progress upon annual review. Fellows will receive a competitive stipend with a cost-of-living increase in subsequent years, as well as discretionary funds for professional development (e.g., conference, computer, travel, etc.). Appointments will be made in a home academic department and the fellowship program will be administered by WTI. Fellows will be welcomed into the WTI community, with access to additional labs, professional development, community-building, and networking events. They will also benefit from space, facilities, and services for cutting-edge research in the upcoming new home of WTI at 100 College Street in New Haven, CT.

Instructions for Submission

The deadline for collaboration proposals from Yale faculty is Friday, May 14, 11:59pm.

All applications must be completed electronically and submitted through the following url: http://bit.ly/wti-postdoc-phase1

For convenience, a reference application form can be found here.

The following documents must be uploaded within the application form:

  • CVs for both faculty members
  • A research collaboration proposal narrative: Describe area(s) of potential collaboration between the two faculty, given their research interests and laboratory projects, including example questions that could be addressed. Describe how the collaboration could advance understanding of cognition. State whether the collaboration is new and explain why it cannot be supported by other funding sources. A detailed project description akin to a grant proposal is not expected. Should not exceed two pages (including figures if any, excluding references).
  • Joint plan for mentoring, training, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI): Describe the mentoring philosophy of each faculty member and how the two faculty members would work together to co-mentor a fellow. Identify training and professional development opportunities available to the fellow through the collaboration. Describe how the faculty support and advance DEI in their research environments and at Yale, and how they will support an inclusive search that maximizes potential for candidates from diverse backgrounds. Should not exceed two pages.
  • Mentoring track record: Report the number of previous and current trainees at all levels for each faculty member. Summarize placement history and present status of previous trainees. Describe experience with mentoring trainees from underrepresented backgrounds. Junior faculty will not be disadvantaged by a shorter history. Should not exceed two pages.

Selection Process

Collaboration proposals will be selected by an internal WTI committee, comprised of WTI leaders, a DEI expert, and a postdoc, and based on the following criteria:

  • Impact: We are especially interested in supporting ambitious and innovative research areas not readily covered by other programs.
  • Novelty: Priority will be given to new faculty collaborations over established ones, ideally across departments or even schools.
  • Interdisciplinarity: Proposal narrative should bring together different fields, techniques, scales, and/or perspectives.
  • Environment: Mentoring plan should be thoughtful, meaningfully attentive to DEI, and grounded in a successful track record (junior faculty can include their experience mentoring others as postdocs or graduate students).

Timeline

May 14, 2021 – Deadline for Phase 1 mentoring collaboration proposal

June 4, 2021 – Winning Phase 1 proposals announced

June 21, 2021 – External call for Phase 2 postdoctoral fellow candidates

August 15, 2021 – Deadline for Phase 2 applications

October 15, 2021 – Recipients of Wu Tsai Postdoctoral Fellowships announced

Contact

Please contact wti@yale.edu for any questions related to this application.

Wu Tsai Postdoctoral Fellowships Phase II: Call for Applicants

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Opportunity

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.

Research Topics

Priority research areas for recruitment in this cycle are listed below. Candidates are welcome to apply to one of the following opportunities:

  1. Priority Area A - Uncovering the molecular basis of neuroticism, a fundamental personality trait.
    Co-Mentors: Kristen Brennand (Psychiatry), Chris Cotsapas (Neurology)
    Description: 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.
  2. Priority Area B - Learning the language of thought: machine learning to infer spatiotemporal rules of cognition from mesoscopic calcium imaging data.
    Co-Mentors: Jessica Cardin (Neuroscience), David van Dijk (Internal Medicine and Computer Science)
    Description: 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.
  3. Priority Area C - Toward the neural bases of cooperative social interactions.
    Co-Mentors: Steve Chang (Psychology), Monika Jadi (Psychiatry), Anirvan Nandy (Neuroscience)
    Description: 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.
  4. Priority Area D - The functional genomics of human cognition: from molecular and cellular processes though large-scale brain networks.
    Co-Mentors: Avram Holmes (Psychology), Nenad Sestan (Neuroscience)
    Description: 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.
  5. Open Area – We welcome applications for other integrative explorations seeking to understand the mind through an integrated study of brain and behavior.
    Description: 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

Selected 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 January 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
  • Submit a timely annual progress report.

Eligibility

  • PhD degree or equivalent awarded by January 2022 or within the last 3 years (i.e., degree received 2019, 2020, or 2021).
  • Non-U.S. citizens may apply but should have training, skills, and publications commensurate with what is expected at leading PhD programs in the U.S.
  • Candidates should have a published track record of discoveries, demonstrate a level of scientific independence appropriate for a beginning postdoc, and be eager to collaborate and participate in activities and research across scientific disciplines.
  • Because this fellowship is meant to build the number of researchers working in these areas at Yale, current members of the Yale community (including postdocs and PhD students) are not eligible to apply.

Instructions for Submission

The deadline for applications is September 30, 11:59pm.

All materials must be submitted online through the following link:

Apply Here

See here for instructions for how to open an Interfolio account.

Applications must include:

  • 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).

Selection Process

Applications will be selected by an internal WTI committee, comprised of proposed Co-mentors, WTI leaders, DEI experts, and postdocs, 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.

Suggested Timeline

September 30, 2021 – Deadline for postdoctoral applications.

October 31, 2021 – Invitations for online interviews sent out. Candidates will be interviewed by the Co-Mentors and members of their lab, as well as leaders of the WTI.

November 30, 2021 – Recipients of Wu Tsai Postdoctoral Fellowships announced.

Spring 2022 – Wu Tsai Postdoctoral Fellowships appointments begin.

Contact

Please contact wti@yale.edu for any questions related to this application