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A rich, interdisciplinary climate

The Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) is part of the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and is located 2 miles off the main campus close to the Salk Institute and the Scripps Research Institute. The immediate laboratory, co-directed by Dr. Eric Courchesne and Dr. Karen Pierce, contains 20 scientists ranging from the B.A. to Ph.D. level. Collaborators of the ACE extend locally — including scientists at the Salk and The Scripps Research Institute — as well as nationally, thus there is rich interdisciplinary climate at the ACE.

Opportunities

Postdocs

Developmental Molecular Biologist

Description

The Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) Research Program is seeking a Postdoctoral Researcher to pursue Molecular Developmental Biology. ACE is part of the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, located 2 miles off the main campus and close to the Salk Institute and the Scripps Research Institute. The immediate laboratory, co-directed by Dr. Eric Courchesne and Dr. Karen Pierce, contains 20 scientists ranging from the B.A. to Ph.D. level. Collaborators of the ACE extend locally (including scientists at the Salk and The Scripps Research Institute) as well as nationally; thus there is rich interdisciplinary climate at the ACE.

Requirements

Candidate must possess a Ph.D., and prior experience in molecular and/or cellular neurobiology with expertise in developmental research either with animal models or human disorders. Knowledge of in situ hybridization, RT-PCR, brain tissue sectioning, staining, morphometric analyses, gene expression, and/or stereology is required.

Salary/Stipend Information

On NIH Postdoctoral Scholar Salary Scale

Application Procedure

Applicants are welcome to include in their cover letters a personal statement summarizing their contributions to diversity. UC San Diego is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer with a strong institutional commitment to excellence through diversity. All applicants will be required to submit a CV, Self-Statement of Research Activities, and a minimum of 3 letters of reference.

Skills and Knowledge Required

Candidates must have Ph.D. in neuroscience molecular biology, neuroscience or other, related fields. Prior experience in molecular biology wet lab is required. The successful candidate must be willing to work with a team of scientists to develop novel experiments. Salary will be commensurate with experience and based on UC San Diego salary Scales depending upon qualifications and experience. Prior autism experience not required.

Contact

Interested applicants may address questions to Dr. Eric Courchesne and Dr. Karen Pierce.

Graduate Students

We are always looking for students who are interested in working on their degree at our laboratory.

You can learn more about autism research by doing a rotation at our lab. We have had students from the Psychology and Neurosciences departments at UC San Diego, as well as the joint doctoral program between UCSD and SDSU (San Diego State University).

For more information about getting involved as a graduate student at our lab, contact co-director, Karen Pierce, Ph.D.

Undergraduate Volunteers

We are always looking for motivated undergraduate students who want a unique and wonderful research opportunity!

At our lab, you will be involved in the following:

  • Learning more about autism
  • Learning more about early detection and screening
  • Working with children between the ages of 12 - 36 months and their parents
  • Working alongside a PhD level clinical psychologist
  • Working with a great group of dedicated people
  • Doing hands-on research
  • Learning how to do data entry and analysis
  • …and more!

About the research internship

Our undergraduate student research internship program consists of a 300-hour commitment over the course of nine months during which students are trained to work directly with our families and assist our PhD level psychologists throughout the assessment process.

The role includes

  • guiding the family through room changes
  • directing the family as to what activity will come next
  • implementing experimental assessments
  • delivering instructions for those experiments
  • data entry
  • participation in discussions regarding the theories and methods behind the studies that they help collect data for

Discussion topics often include use of MRI and fMRI to understand autism and language development, using eye tracking in infants, standardized assessments used in evaluating young children, gene expression, brain development in autism, and the grieving process of parents who have children with special needs.

These discussions, combined with the direct observation of a wide range of developmental abilities experienced in the clinic, formulate an exceptional learning experience for our students interested in neuroscience, child development, psychology, and other relevant disciplines.

The program consists of three increasing levels of responsibility

  1. In the initial phase, new students are paired with experienced students during a period of directly supervised training.
  2. During the second phase, students will become more independent and begin thinking more critically and scientifically about their own observations and curiosities.
  3. In the final phase, the now-experienced student "teaches" all that he or she has learned to new incoming students as a trainer.

This model follows the "Learn, Do, Teach" approach that is a popular model for learning progression. Students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply. Many program graduates have gone on to complete Master's, Ph.D., and M.D. programs or have begun careers as ABA therapists!

How to Apply

If you are enthusiastic about doing research and would like to be considered for a volunteer position at our lab, email info-ace@ucsd.edu or digoel@ucsd.edu and include your:

  • resume
  • cover letter
  • current transcript
  • schedule of availability