Thursday, September 14, 2023

Two Postdoc opportunities in transritomics

My lab at the University of Massachusetts Amherst ( is seeking two postdocs to join projects in collaboration with Jeff Lichtman’s lab at Harvard University. We are looking for people who are knowledgeable in transcriptomics and/or connectomics to join ongoing projects related to multisensory systems and neurogenesis.

We have been pioneering the use of the nudibranch, Berghia stephanieae to ask fundamental questions about the structure and function of neural processing. Nudibranchs, like other gastropods, have central ganglia that continue to add neurons as the animal grows, increasing the number of neurons over 40 fold in just eight weeks. Individual neurons can be recognized at each developmental stage, some arise early and others later, providing an opportunity to compare synaptic organization and gene expression in the same neuron at different times. We are asking how newly born neurons become incorporated into functional neural circuits by combining 3D electron microscopy, cell tracing, single cell transcriptomics, and multiplexed in situ hybridization chain reaction to create developmental cell atlases.

We are also examining the structure and function of the rhinophore complex in Berghia. The rhinophores are distance chemoreceptive appendages that contain thousands of peripheral neurons. At the base of each rhinophore is a ganglion that has more neurons than the so-called brain. We are determining whether this ganglion has structural features that are analogous to an insect antennal lobe or whether it has a uniquely molluscan organization that includes peripheral processing. The structural basis for olfaction has not yet been determined in molluscs. This project could help determine whether molluscs fundamentally differ from other known systems in how olfactory receptor neurons are organized into circuits.

Postdocs will develop their individual projects with the expectation that they will build an independent research program. Postdocs are expected to mentor and work as a team with students in the lab. We work to foster a cooperative, inclusive environment in the lab.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst has a large and growing neuroscience community. Smith, Mt. Holyoke, Amherst, and Hampshire Colleges are all nearby and contribute to the academic environment. Amherst is located about 2 hours west of Boston. There is train service to New York City as well. Amherst is situated in the Connecticut River Valley, convenient to skiing in the Berkshire Mountains and Vermont. There is a lively music scene and art scene.

Applicants must have a PhD in neuroscience or a related field, and publication record in the field.

Applicants should send a cover letter, with contact information for three references, and a c.v. to [email protected]. Applications will be considered as they are received.

Paul Katz
Professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst