WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF JOINING IBL AS A POSTDOC?
Joining IBL is a unique opportunity to take part in an exciting new initiative that aims to change the culture of neuroscience. It will be particularly attractive to postdocs who are convinced of the importance of open-source approaches to science and the benefits of collaboration. The IBL will provide access to a large international network of labs that are leaders in the field, providing huge benefits to postdocs such as training on diverse techniques and systems of expertise. Postdocs will also have the opportunity to spend significant periods of time in more than one lab, e.g. by rotating within several labs or by designing a custom schedule, e.g. combining a stay in a theory lab and then an experimental lab. These sorts of benefits already facilitate recruitment of postdocs in small collaborations, but will scale well with the size of the IBL network.
HOW WOULD BEING AN IBL POSTDOC BE DIFFERENT FROM A ‘TYPICAL’ POSTDOC POSITION?
IBL postdocs have immediate access to a network of top scientists around the world with similar interests, linked up by the data-sharing and interactive tools which IBL is developing, as well as by frequent meetings of the collaboration.
IBL postdocs have direct access to the unique dataset collected by the entire consortium. This dataset will include the activity of tens of thousands of neurons throughout the entire brain obtained via electrophysiology and calcium imaging in cortical and subcortical structures in animals performing the exact same task. This will be the first data set of this kind in the mammalian brain.
Postdocs play a primary role in designing the experiments based on harnessing the power of the brain-wide activity map that will be gathered as part of the project.
Postdocs have the opportunity to be mentored by more than one PI, strengthening their position on the job market by having additional advocates.
Postdocs will be able to get up-and-running much more quickly than is typical by making use of standardized equipment and training procedures.
Experimental postdocs will have an increased opportunity to learn quantitative approaches for data analysis. Many postdocs wish to gain such expertise to bolster their future careers as independent investigators. However, few experimental labs can provide rigorous training in this area. Often postdocs are left to convince the one theorist down the hall that their project is interesting. In IBL, they will get to collaborate with top theorists who are already interested and invested in this project.
Theoretical postdocs will have the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of experimental approaches, by collaborating directly with experimentalists and/or by being embedded in experimental labs. Moreover, IBL advocates that theorists should be involved in experimental design from the earliest possible stages, providing a rare opportunity to shape experimental projects from their inception.
WHAT SKILLS / EXPERIENCE ARE REQUIRED TO BE AN IBL POSTDOC?
We are looking for postdocs from a wide range of backgrounds. The IBL infrastructure will be particularly appealing to postdocs who come from a different background: for instance, someone whose PhD work involved human psychophysics while measuring MEG and pupil responses would have many of the necessary skills to study decision-making in rodents, and might find it appealing to join a project where a strong infrastructure made the transition easier.
HOW WILL POSTDOCS GET CREDIT WITHIN THE IBL?
The IBL has a highly collaborative, bottom-up management structure, which encourages postdocs to participate in shaping and driving the IBL. This increases the visibility and engagement of postdocs compared to standard collaborations where PI’s are usually just a conduit for communication. Careful evaluation and tracking of the contribution of individual postdocs to projects, aided by the data-logging and data-sharing tools being developed by IBL, will form a crucial part of the credit assignment process.
HOW WILL AUTHORSHIP WORK IN THE IBL?
Postdocs are expected to publish their own papers based on their own ideas. The IBL publication policies include provisions for two types of publication: (1) IBL-wide publications, in which fine-grained attribution of specific roles will be credited; (2) targeted publications by smaller groups (such as the postdoc’s lab), in which typical authorship credits would pertain.
I’M AN EXPERIMENTALIST. WHAT FRACTION OF MY TIME WILL BE SPENT COLLECTING “IBL-WIDE” DATA FOR THE ACTIVITY ATLAS, AND WHAT FRACTION WILL BE SPENT DOING MY OWN, INDEPENDENT WORK?
There will be a balance between these two activities (which of course are complementary). First, you will be expected to contribute recordings targeted to particular brain regions, data which will be shared with other members of IBL. You will also be free to design and propose new experiments to address specific questions raised during the course of your work. In general, postdocs are expected to play a leading role in experimental design, particularly in designing the core behavior task and the strategy for brain-wide recordings.
I’M A THEORIST. WHAT DATA WILL I HAVE ACCESS TO? CAN I TAKE DATA FROM ANY IBL EXPERIMENTAL POSTDOC AND DO WHAT I WANT WITH IT?
The sharing of experimental data across IBL is a core element of the collaboration All members will share access to all data generated within IBL. However, theorists should consult the experimental postdocs prior to accessing their data, and ideally analyze and interpret it together with the experimental postdocs. We expect experimentalists to be first author on the first publication that comes out of their data (ideally often with a theorist or another collaborator as co-first author). Finally, as part of the change in scientific culture in systems neuroscience that IBL envisages, we hope that the distinction between ‘theorists’ and ‘experimentalists’ will be increasingly blurred, with plenty of postdocs doing both experiments of theory.
DO POSTDOCS HAVE A VOICE IN HOW IBL IS RUN?
Yes, there will be postdoc representatives elected to the IBL General Assembly, the body which makes proposals and takes decisions about how IBL is run. Furthermore, given the non-hierarchical and bottom-up way IBL is managed, we expect postdocs to play a significant role in steering the day-to-day operation of the initiative.
WHO IS MY BOSS?
Postdocs who join IBL will receive primary supervision and mentoring by the PI who runs the home lab in which the postdoc is based. However, the postdoc will also receive mentoring from all IBL PI’s, either by arrangement (e.g. with the closest experimental and/or theoretical partners in the collaboration), or by informal interactions within IBL (e.g. during IBL scientific meetings, retreats, workshops, and during online discussions).
WHAT ARE IBL POSTDOC SALARIES LIKE?
The salaries of IBL postdocs are generous, internationally competitive. They are set by the individual instutions of the ‘home laboratory’ where the postdoc will be based. Postdocs will receive the normal statutory benefits (e.g. health insurance and pension) which are also awarded to other postdocs in the same lab (this will vary by country and city).