Post doc and PhD position in virtual reality-based cognitive-computational neuroscience  


The Hertz Chair for Artificial Intelligence and Neuroscience at University of Bonn is looking to recruit postdoctoral fellows and PhD students to undertake high quality research and produce high-impact publications in an interdisciplinary neuroscience research program. This program brings together researchers with expertise in cognitive science, clinical psychiatry, movement science, machine-learning, and software development. This provides an exciting opportunity for postdoctoral candidates to work at the cutting edge of human cognitive science and neuroscience research. Collaboration partners in this endeavour are based at Max-Planck-Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen (Germany), University of Tübingen (Germany), Max-Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry (UK), Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging (UK), and the Department for Information Systems and Artificial Intelligence, University of Bonn.

The aim of our research is to understand the cognitive neurobiology of human threat avoidance, in terms of acute escape behaviour, as well as medium- and long-term threat forecasting. We believe this understanding is important to deliver better treatment for mental health conditions. Our research strongly builds on computational modelling of behaviour and neural systems, theories of artificial agents, machine-learning methods such as pose estimation and motion sequencing, and research automation by software design and by self-learning data analysis methods. Our team culture is collaborative, agile, and shaped by technical sophistication. We believe in open, reproducible, and sustainable precision science. We host a state-of-the-art virtual reality and motion capture lab, and have access to human neuroimaging facilities (3 T and 7 T MRI, OPM-MEG).

The goal of the advertised positions is to develop a cognitive-computational understanding of human decision-making under acute, immediate threat. We investigate this in an immersive virtual reality (VR) environment, in which people can move to avoid various threats. The candidate’s role will be to maintain and advance an existing Unity-based research platform, build specific suitable scenarios, conduct experimental studies with this setup, and analyse the data. See here an example of this research program.

Applicants should have (or be close to obtaining) a PhD (post doc position) or MSc (PhD position) in cognitive-computational (neuro)science, applied machine-learning, biomechanics, motor science, a quantitative field of psychology (e.g. decision-making, perception), or a related area by the agreed start date of the position. Experience with either Unity and C# or R/tidyverse or Python is essential. The successful candidates will have experience in programming, solid knowledge of decision science, applied statistics and a good publication record.

The successful candidate will be based at the University of Bonn, Campus Endenich, in direct vicinity to natural and computer science departments and other interdisciplinary Hertz Chairs. The University of Bonn is an internationally leading research university, providing an intellectually stimulating environment. At University of Bonn, postdoctoral salaries start at around 55’000 €/year and PhD salaries at around 28’000 €/year, and can be substantially higher, depending on prior post-doctoral experience or PhD degree taken. The positions are available now. An initial appointment for a two-year period (post docs) or three-year period (PhD) will be made with potential for extension, depending on successful performance of research and publications. University of Bonn is committed to diversity and encourages applications from underrepresented groups.

The city of Bonn is a thriving university city with high quality of life. Bonn is the former capital of Germany, and today hosts many government agencies as well as various international organisations, including 20 United Nations institutions, and multinational enterprises. Almost every local speaks English. Bonn hosts the headquarters of the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases, 4 Max Planck Institutes, and several Fraunhofer Institutes in computer science-related topics. Bonn is scenically located at the entrance to the middle Rhine Valley, with ancient hilltop castles bordering its southern suburbs.

Applicants should submit a current CV, a personal statement describing their experience and interests, and contact information for three referees to a.menke@uni-bonn.de. Enquiries can be directed to Prof. Dominik Bach, d.bach@uni-bonn.de.