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Scientist II - Understanding the Cortical Basis of Computation

Department: Modeling and Theory

Scientist II- Understanding the Cortical Basis of Computation


The mission of the Allen Institute is to unlock the complexities of bioscience and advance our knowledge to improve human health. Using an open science, multi-scale, team-oriented approach, the Allen Institute focuses on accelerating foundational research, developing standards and models, and cultivating new ideas to make a broad, transformational impact on science.

The mission of the Allen Institute for Brain Science is to accelerate the understanding of how the human brain works in health and disease. Using a big science approach, we generate useful public resources, drive technological and analytical advances, and discover fundamental brain properties through integration of experiments, modeling and theory.

The Allen Institute believes that team science significantly benefits from the participation of diverse voices, experiences and backgrounds. High-quality science can only be produced when it includes different perspectives. We are committed to increasing diversity across every team and encourage people from all backgrounds to apply for this role.

Understanding the brain constitutes one of the foremost scientific challenges we face.  Connecting circuit level neural mechanisms with the higher-level functions of sensory processing and behavior will likely require a synthesis of approaches, drawing from physics, biology, computer science, and statistics, guided by strong theoretical bases for cortical function. 

We seek an exemplary scientist to join our efforts in understanding the cortical basis of computation.  The successful candidate will pursue theoretical work on the circuit origins of the neural code to derive observable consequences for anatomical structure and neurophysiology of cortical networks as well as to understand their computational capacity. 

The successful candidate will also perform data analysis on electron microscopic reconstructions of cortical tissue and physiological recordings from multiple modalities (optical- and electrophysiology).  They will work closely with experimentalists to understand data and be able to participate in the process of experimental design. 

The ideal candidate will have a background in machine learning, statistical physics, computational learning theory, and be familiar with a broad array of work in theoretical neuroscience, including predictive coding and Bayesian theories of cortical function.

Note: Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. This description reflects managementís assignment of essential functions; it does not proscribe or restrict the tasks that may be assigned.

Essential Functions

  • Develop and explore theories of cortical function and derive observable consequences of those theories.
  • In close collaboration with experimentalists and other analysts, work as a team member to analyze large-scale neurophysiological activity and EM reconstruction data.
  • Contribute scientific ideas based on the analysis results.
  • Develop and maintain computational and associated software tools.
  • Publish/present findings in peer-reviewed journals and at scientific conferences.
  • Maintain clear and accurate communication with supervisor and other team members.
  • Communicate effectively and appropriately to the research community inside and outside the organization.

Required Education and Experience

  • PhD or equivalent experience in Physics, Computational Neuroscience or related discipline
  • 0-2 years of post-doctoral experience
  • Strong computational/data analysis skills; ideally programming in Python
  • Strong publication record

Preferred Education and Experience

  • Excited about team science and open science.
  • Track record of scientific excellence and independent thinking
  • Ability to meet aggressive timelines and deliverables in a collaborative environment.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Experience in systems neuroscience (especially in vivo neural measurements and/or sensory neuroscience).
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail.

Physical Demands

  • Fine motor movements in fingers/hands to operate computers and other office equipment; lab equipment

Position Type / Expected Hours of Work

  • This role is currently able to work remotely due to COVID-19 and our focus on employee safety. We are a Washington State employer, and remote work must be performed in Washington State. We continue to evaluate the safest options for our employees. As restrictions are lifted in relation to COVID-19, this role will return to work onsite.

Additional Eligibility Qualifications 

  • In keeping with our focus on employee safety, all employees must be up to date with vaccinations against COVID-19 as a condition of employment unless a medical or religious accommodation is approved. All employees will be required to keep their vaccination status up to date according to CDC guidance.

Additional Comments

  • **Please note, this opportunity offers relocation assistance and visa sponsorship**


It is the policy of the Allen Institute to provide equal employment opportunity (EEO) to all persons regardless of age, color, national origin, citizenship status, physical or mental disability, race, religion, creed, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, genetic information, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law. In addition, the Allen Institute will provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities.






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