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Research Scientist, Computational Neurobiology Laboratory, Dr. Terrence Sejnowski

Salk Institute for Biological Studies
La Jolla, CA
Closing date
Jul 13, 2021

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Job Details

Application Instructions:

Employment History Include your last ten (10) years of employment history, or length of your employment history if less, including all positions (even those that are not relevant to this position) and periods of unemployment. Incomplete information could disqualify you from further consideration.


The objective of this position is to perform the computational neuroscience research and scientific software programming tasks required to support the MCell project ( The project researcher receives direction for major project goals and requirements from the project leaders. The incumbent should be a highly self-motivated individual with well-developed leadership, organizational, and communication skills, as well as work well in a team.


 (100%) Computational Neuroscience Research and Scientific Software Programming

  • Interface with MCell project leaders to receive direction on project goals, specifications, time frames, and progress reports.
  •  Participate with members of research team to evolve/refine the research goals and software spec.
  •  Perform computational neuroscience research in pursuit of the research goals.
  • Break down software engineering goals to a time-line of specific tasks with milestones.
  • Design APIs to meet software spec.
  • Implement APIs and required unit tests for software spec.
  • Document and publish software and tutorials on project website.
  • Organize and generate reports for internal and external agencies.
  • Perform computational physics research of the statistical mechanics theory of diffusion and biochemical interactions of 2D and 3D space-filling molecules and multi-molecular complexes.
  • Develop computational algorithms to expand scope and capabilities of MCell physics to include diffusion and interactions of 2D and 3D space-filling molecules and multi-molecular complexes.
  • Implement new molecule-molecule interaction algorithms, including BioNetGen/NFsim agent-based rule evaluation for reaction/diffusion.
  • Implement API for fine-grained communication between MCell and NEURON (a simulator of neuronal electrophysiology). This is the next step on the road toward true 3-D electro-diffusion, membrane potential, and cyto-mechanical modeling of cells.  Requires communication and collaboration with Michael Hines, NEURON's author.
  • 3-D graphical user interface for model building, visualization, execution, and analysis.



  •  Minimum 3 years of related post PhD research experience or equivalent
  • Advanced experience in Computational Physics and Applied Mathematics
  • Experience with programming languages: C, C++, Python, CUDA
  • Experience with Software Tools: GIT, Blender, Doxygen, GPU acceleration, Application performance profiling
  • Experience with Operating Systems: Linux, MacOSX, Windows
  • Experience with Approaches: Test Driven Development, Unit Testing, Cross-platform Development


  • Extensive experience in scientific programming and management of scientific or quantitative applications Experience in team/project leadership
  • Software Tools: OpenGL, Bullet Physics
  • Approaches: Event-Driven algorithms, Stochastic algorithms, Parallel algorithms



  •  PhD in Math, Physics, Biophysics, or related field


  •  PhD in Computer Science



  •  Advanced skills in Computational Physics and Applied Mathematics
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct and oversee independent research. This includes the ability to (a) develop, maintain, execute, and complete research projects of varying size and scope; (b) critically read, understand, and extract information from published literature to prepare background information for scientific abstracts, manuscripts, lectures, and grant proposals; (c) perform basic data and statistical analysis; and (d) produce high-quality abstracts, manuscripts, lectures, and grant applications.
  • Ability to independently design experiments and debug protocols.
  • Ability to troubleshoot and optimize experiments.
  • Ability to perform reproducible experiments.
  • Ability to read, interpret, and synthesize the published literature relevant to ongoing projects and have it inform ongoing experimental efforts.
  • Demonstrated ability to independently evaluate administrative goals, prioritize plan for implementation, establish timelines, secure and oversee the participation of appropriate contributors, organize materials and ensure quality product within established deadlines.
  • Familiarity with relevant technologies. Ability to analyze and interpret data and assist with writing scientific papers and grants.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience with PC or MAC operating systems, commonly used software and tools, such as Microsoft Office , electronic mail, and the internet.
  • Strong interpersonal skills. Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships; interact with all levels of management and employees across multiple departments. Demonstrated ability to supervise and train students and other technicians.
  • Knowledge of standard laboratory management and safety procedures.
  • Ability to make independent decisions, analyze situations, solve problems, and initiate actions for the effective management of a large and complex department.
  • Strong analytical and critical thinking skills to identify problems and develop innovative solutions.
  • Excellent written communication skills.
  • Excellent oral communication skills. Demonstrated ability to communicate clearly, effectively, tactfully, and patiently in person, on the telephone, and in writing to a diverse group of people in the academic and scientific communities.
  •  Must be adept at teaching and presenting to others.
  • Must be a self-directed learner and self-motivated to achieve project and lab goals.


  •  Must be willing to work in an animal-related research environment.
  • Must be willing to work an adjusted schedule to support research needs.
  • Successful completion of the Institute’s background investigation.
  • Must be willing to sign a confidentiality agreement.


This position requires constant adjusting focus, hearing, keying, seeing, sitting, talking, analyzing, calculating, communicating, reading, reasoning, writing and working inside. 



Working at Salk Institute for Biological Studies

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is one of the world's preeminent basic research institutions, where internationally renowned faculty probe fundamental life science questions in a unique, collaborative, and creative environment. Focused on both discovery and mentoring future generations of researchers, Salk scientists make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of cancer, aging, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology, and related disciplines.

Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.

Salk Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Statement

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is committed to providing equal access to opportunities for students, employees, applicants for employment and other persons.

Our policies prohibit harassment or unlawful discrimination against individuals on the basis of sex, gender, marital or parental status, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, medical conditions/disabilities related to pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation age, ancestry, color, religion (including religious dress and grooming practices), family and/or medical care leave status, disability (mental or physical), registered domestic partner status, legally protected medical condition, genetic information, military or veteran status (disabled veteran, veteran of the Vietnam era, other covered veteran status), national origin (including language use restrictions and possession of a driver’s license), race, religion or any other classification protected by local, state or federal laws.

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Reasonable accommodation is available for qualified individuals with disabilities and for individuals with religious restrictions.

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