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Research Assistant/Research Associate

Requisition ID:  9501

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Fixed Term
Working Pattern:  Full Time
Posted Date:  03-Sep-2021


We are a world class research-intensive university. We deliver teaching and learning of the highest quality. We play a leading role in economic, social and cultural development of the North East of England. Attracting and retaining high-calibre people is fundamental to our continued success.


Research Assistant salary: £28,331 - £30,046 per annum

Research Associate salary: £30,942 - £32,817 per annum with progression to £40,322

Closing Date: 16 September 2021



The Role


You will join an ongoing project aiming to investigate properties of the mirror neurons using single cell recordings in non-human primates (macaque monkey). In addition, the researcher will be encouraged to contribute to other ongoing projects in the lab including investigation of the anatomical properties of the cortico-subthalamic projection neurons and optogenetic identification of the pyramidal tract neurons.


The observation of the actions of others, reaction to them and often simultaneous observation and execution is central to our daily life. A plethora of human functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG) studies and several single neurons animal studies showed that much of the cortical motor network is active during action observation. How can these outputs be active without movement? The absence of movement during action observation, i.e. while the cortical motor system itself is active, challenges our understanding of how movements are generated and prompts research to identify neuronal signals that separate movement execution from action observation.


An obvious candidate for such a signal, surprisingly neglected in research so far, is somatosensory input. Somatosensory input is clearly very different between action observation and action execution states. And this difference might be an important contributing factor to why movements do not occur during action observation despite mirror neuronal activity in motor areas.


This post is fixed term for initially for a period of Initially for 9 months, until 1st of May 2022.


For informal enquiries contact: sasha.kraskov@newcastle.ac.uk


Key Accountabilities

• Although working under the general guidance of an academic or Principal Investigator, you will contribute ideas, including enhancements to the technical or methodological aspects of their studies, thus providing substantial 'added value'
• Develop and carry out the specified project using appropriate techniques and equipment as outlined in the personal requirements
• Determine appropriate methodologies for research, with advice and support where required
• Contribute to grant applications submitted by others and in time develop own research objectives and proposals for funding
• Begin to write, with appropriate support, proposals for individual research funding or, where funders do not permit this, contribute to the writing of collective bids
• Assess research findings for the need/scope for further investigations
• Contribute to the writing up of their research for publication and dissemination, either through seminar and conference presentations or through publications
• Present research findings, either at conferences or through publications in reputable outlets appropriate to the discipline
• May be involved in the supervision, with guidance, of final year undergraduate research projects and in providing support to postgraduate research students or Research Assistants
• Will need to work with the support staff and, on occasions, with undergraduate and postgraduate students, and interact intellectually with other academic members of the Institute.
• May contribute to events celebrating the public engagement of science/social sciences/humanities
• Develop an awareness of University structures, policies and procedures and relevant issues in the higher education, research, social and political environment


The Person  
Knowledge, Skills and Experience  

•    Strong commitment to animal welfare, and application of the 3Rs in all aspects of the work 
•    Knowledge of setup for in-vivo electrophysiological recording and stimulation techniques (rodents or primates) 
•    Strong mathematical and statistical understanding, enabling a rigorous approach to data analysis problems 
•    Experience of computer programming for scientific purposes (e.g. Matlab) 
•    Presentations at conferences and/or high-quality publications 
•    Experience of research with clear transferable skills 
•    High level of analytical and problem-solving capability  
•    Ability to communicate complex information with clarity and to encourage the commitment of others  
•    Strong academic ability, able to bring insight to scientific problems 
•    High level of spoken and written English 
•    Ability to work well as part of a team and rapidly acquire new skills 
•    Ability to work varied hours 

•    Good knowledge of the scientific literature on motor control and mirror neurons 
•    Possession of a Home Office personal licence under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 
•    Ability to work with awake behaving macaques, and to train on behavioural tasks 
•    Skills in sterile surgery, including use of stereotaxic manipulators 
•    Experience of recording from primate neural systems  
•    Experience of measuring and quantifying primate behaviour 
•    Experience of the MATLAB platform, and writing scripts to analyse neurophysiological, imaging and histological data and animal behaviour 
•    Experience of MRI 
•    PhD in neuroscience or other relevant discipline (e.g. mathematics, computer science) for Research Associate level 
•    Master or equivalent degree in neuroscience or other relevant discipline for Research Assistant level 


Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains colleagues from all sectors of society.  We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all our employees and the communities they represent.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from everybody, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, marital status/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, as well as being open to flexible working practices.


The University holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our good employment practices for the advancement of gender equality. The University also holds the HR Excellence in Research award for our work to support the career development of our researchers, and is a member of the Euraxess initiative supporting researchers in Europe.


We understand how important the full employment package is to our colleagues at Newcastle University and we are committed to providing a great range of benefits and discounts for all.  You can learn more about what is available here on our Benefits Website page.

Requisition ID: 9501