Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain Awards Postdoctoral Fellowships

The Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain (SCGB) is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2015 SCGB Postdoctoral Fellowships. SCGB Fellows are outstanding researchers whose work blends theory and experimentation on the nature, role and mechanisms of the neural activity that produces cognition.

SCGB Fellows are selected based on their backgrounds and previous work, potential to make an impact in the field, and the relevance of their work to the SCGB mission: advancing scientists’ mechanistic understanding of brain functioning.

“The SCGB Postdoctoral Fellows are an elite group of scholars,” says Alyssa Picchini Schaffer, scientific officer for the SCGB. “Collaboration between labs often begins with the postdocs, so we are excited about bringing this group of motivated and talented researchers into the SCGB community.”

Ten fellows were selected from around the country and abroad. Their areas of study include research on decision making, behavioral correlates of spatial memory formation, and the role of perceptual certainty in adaptive decision making.

“I’m excited to be a part of the effort,” says Maria Dadarlat, a 2015 SCGB postdoc at the University of California, San Francisco, who is studying dynamic encoding of visual stimuli in the mouse cortex. “Using large-scale neural recordings from awake, behaving animals in conjunction with sophisticated analysis algorithms, we are finally in a position to discover the neural mechanisms underlying cognition.”

The fellows, who represent the top 8 percent of applicants, will share research and ideas with one another and with the laboratories of the SCGB Investigators to uncover the neural basis of internal brain states — the brain processes that occur in a domain between stimulus and response, in the form of decisions, motivations, thoughts and judgments. The addition of these 10 postdocs is an important step toward building a research community capable of achieving that goal.

In the near future, the SCGB will initiate workshops to facilitate collaboration and exchange of ideas across research areas and between investigators and postdocs.


2015 SCGB Fellows

Katherine Cora Ames

Project Title: Dynamics of Neural Coordination Across Hemispheres

Mentors: Larry Abbott and Mark Churchland (SCGB members)

Institution: Columbia University


Xiaoyin Chen

Project Title: The Role of Corticostriatal Neurons in Visual Decisions

Mentor: Anthony Zador

Institution: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory


Maria Dadarlat

Project Title: Dynamic Encoding of Visual Stimuli in Mouse Cortex

Mentor: Michael Stryker (SCGB member)

Institution: University of California, San Francisco


James Heys

Project Title: Optical Imaging and Manipulation of Medial Entorhinal Cortex Grid Cells

Mentor: Daniel Dombeck

Institution: Northwestern University


Matthew Kaufman

Project Title: Networks for Decision Making: Signal Routing In and Through Parietal Cortex

Mentor: Anne Churchland (SCGB member)

Institution: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory


Aaron Koralek

Project Title: The Role of Dopaminergic Network Dynamics in Behavioral Exploration

Mentor: Rui Costa

Institution: Fundação D. Anna de Sommer Champalimaud e Dr. Carlos Montez Champalimaud


Liang Liang

Project Title: State-Dependent Influences on Retinogeniculate Ensemble Activity

Mentors: Mark Andermann and Chinfei Chen

Institution: Boston Children’s Hospital


John Long

Project Title: The Behavioral Correlates of Spatial Memory Formation in Hippocampal dCA1

Mentor: György Buzsáki

Institution: New York University School of Medicine


Braden Purcell

Project Title: The Role of Perceptual Certainty in Adaptive Decision Making

Mentors: Roozbeh Kiani and Xiao-Jing Wang (SCGB members)

Institution: New York University


Evan Schaffer

Project Title: Transforming a Neural Representation into a Memory

Mentor: Richard Axel

Institution: Columbia University