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Research Associate - University of Southern California

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Posting Details


Requisition ID 1004006
Position ID P01446901
Academic Title Research Associate
Department Viterbi/Biomedical Engineering
Location University Park Campus
Employment Type Full-Time
Percent of time for Part-time Position
Employment Terms New, Grant Funded, Fixed Term
Hiring Range
Job Announcement

This position will involve working in the pediatric movement disorders laboratory under the direction of Dr. Terence Sanger. In the lab work will be performed that involves motion-capture technology and noninvasive electrophysiological techniques to develop and test computational models of the nature and causes of abnormal arm and hand movements in children with movement disorders such as dystonia or chorea. The lab will work to develop a new technology for surface EMG biofeedback and myoelectric human-computer interfaces in order to improve movement and communication.

We are initiating a project on myoelectrically-controlled exoskeleton prostheses for children with brain injury. Many of these children suffer from cerebral palsy, neurodegenerative diseases, or other neurological disorders affecting movement. The goal of the laboratory is to understand, quantify, and treat movement disorders by using computational neuroscience techniques to model the causes of both normal and abnormal movements, to model the role of learning in both the cause and recovery from developmental motor disorders, and to develop new technology based on these results to improve the lives of affected children.

Laboratory technology includes magnetic motion tracking, multi-channel surface EMG, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), special-purpose biofeedback equipment, single-joint and multi-joint haptic robots, synchronized digital video capture, and amplifiers and data interface for scalp evoked potential measurements. We have developed high-capacity neural network models of motor systems implemented in programmable (FPGA) hardware. Ongoing theoretical projects investigate Bayesian nonlinear signal processing and stochastic control algorithms for understanding and interacting with the human motor system.

The research associate will be primarily responsible for a series of experiments to investigate the mechanism and effect of EMG biofeedback on motor learning in children with cerebral palsy. This is a funded multi-center trial with sites in New York, Boston, and Milan. The research associate will also supervise the development of multiple degree of freedom myoelectric human- robot interfaces, which is a collaborative project with investigators at Politecnico di Milano and Fondazione S. Lucia in Rome. A primary goal of the experiments is to test the hypothesis that abnormal sensory processing is partially responsible for poor motor learning and performance. The fellow will also be involved with other experiments in the laboratory, including experiments on motor behavior under variable risk, tests of the mechanism of deep-brain stimulation, and modeling of the role of spinal plasticity in the development of spasticity and response to unilateral brain injury. Theoretical components of these experiments include computational modeling of internal motor representations and sensory-motor information transmission, network models of skill learning, and software or hardware simulation. There is considerable flexibility in the design of experiments, and the fellow will be encouraged to pursue additional areas of interest.

The research associate will receive training in the recognition of specific diagnoses and in the design of experiments for children with motor disorders including cerebral palsy, dystonia, and chorea. This training will occur through observation of clinics at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, as well as close contact with children during experiments.

I seek a highly motivated candidate with particular interest in understanding pathological movement in children. Appropriate background includes a PhD in Electrical Engineering, BioEngineering, Applied Mathematics, or a related field. Background should include familiarity with the neuroscience of movement and an understanding of computational approaches to human movement and motor learning. Experience in human subjects research is highly desirable. Familiarity with Matlab and a statistical analysis package such as R, the Matlab statistics package, or SPSS is important. Candidates should have reasonable programming skills (particularly helpful are VisualC++6, XCode, and microcontroller programming). Electronic interface and/or analog design experience is helpful.

Job Category Laboratory and Research
FLSA Exempt


Minimum Education

Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate

Minimum Experience

1 year

Minimum Field of Expertise

Directly related education and experience in research specialization with advanced knowledge of equipment, procedures and analysis methods.


Preferred Education
Preferred Experience
Supervises - Nature of Work
Preferred Field of Expertise


Special Instructions to Applicants
Quicklink for Posting http://jobs.usc.edu:80/postings/49698

Supplemental Questions

Required fields are indicated with an asterisk (*).

Applicant Documents

Required Documents
  1. Resume/CV
Optional Documents

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