Jan 23, 2011

Open two PhD positions (Germany 50% BAT IIa/E13 TV-L)

Emmy Noether Research Group for Neural Control, Memory, and Learning for Complex Behaviors in Multi Sensori-Motor Robotic Systems

Open two PhD positions (Germany 50% BAT IIa/E13 TV-L)


The goal of this research group is to investigate and develop neural control, memory and learning together with proactive (anticipatory) decision making for our biomechanical walking
machines AMOS. This will lead to the generation of complex biologically-inspired behaviors like natural movements and effective locomotion over difficult terrains, versatile proactive
behaviors, versatile memory-guided behaviors, and goaldirected behaviors. All these complex behaviors have to cooperate or compete under the concept of modular neural mechanisms. Specifically this approach will combine five important neural aspects in the autonomous walking
machines: 1) muscle model, 2) adaptive forward models (efferent copy), 3) short-term memory, 4) multi-synaptic plasticity (long-term memory), and 5) predictive motor models (action planning). It will, as a result, provide a better understanding of the general control, memory, plasticity, and predictive principles in embodied neural sensori-motor function.

Two PhD positions:

With in this framework, one PhD student will mainly work on (Topic 1) neural motor control (i.e., antagonistic-muscle drive mechanisms and adaptive neural forward models) for natural
movements and effective locomotion over difficult terrains of the walking machines. He/she will be also required to investigate on mutual entrainment among the coupling of neural mechanisms and biomechanics.

Another PhD student will focus on (Topic 2) neural memory and learning (i.e., neural short-term
memory, STM and multiple plastic synapse mechanisms) for generating versatile proactive and
memory guided behaviors including goal-directed navigation of the walking machines.

To get a better idea of related research, please have a look at the following publications or visit www.manoonpong.com:

Manoonpong P., Woegoetter F., Pasemann F. (2010) Biological Inspiration for Mechanical Design and Control of Autonomous Walking Robots: Towards Life-like Robots. The International Journal of Applied Biomedical Engineering (IJABME), Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 1-12.

Steingrube, S.; Timme, M.; Woergoetter, F.; Manoonpong, P. (2010) Self-Organized Adaptation of Simple Neural Circuits Enables Complex Robot Behavior. Nature Physics 6, 224-230.

Manoonpong, P.; Woergoetter, F. (2009) Efference Copies in Neural Control of Dynamic Biped Walking. Robotics and Autonomous Systems,Elsevier Science, Vol 57(11), pp. 1140-1153.

Manoonpong, P.; Pasemann, F.; Woergoetter, F. (2008) Sensor-Driven Neural Control for Omnidirectional Locomotion and Versatile Reactive Behaviors of Walking Machines. Robotics and Autonomous Systems, doi:10.1016/j.robot.2007.07.004,Elsevier Science, Vol 56(3), pp 265-288.

The positions are funded by German Research Foundation (DFG). Students will be encouraged
to enter a PhD program and to finish their PhD thesis within 3-4 years. Salary is according to
German TV-L. There is travel funding in case of papers accepted at good conferences.


Applicants need to have a Master or Diploma degree in a field related to robotics, e.g., Electrical Engineering, Physics, Mechatronics, or Computer Science. The ideal applicants should have a strong background in robotics, neural control, and learning (having worked with real robotic systems, artificial neural networks and machine learning), and good programming skills (e.g., C, C++, Assembly).

Deadline and starting date:

Applications will be considered continuously until the positions are filled. The expected starting date is the 1st of March 2011 (or as soon as possible after this).

Research environment and cooperation:

This Emmy Noether Research Group is located on the northern campus of University of
Göttingen at the faculty of Physics http://www.uni-goettingen.de/de/70473.html and works with
the cooperation partners: Prof. Dr. Florentin Wörgötter, Computational Neuroscience at the
University of Göttingen, Prof. Dr. Frank Pasemann, Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Osnabrück, Prof. Dr. Ansgar Büschges, Zoological Institute at the University of Cologne, Prof. Dr. Marc Timme, Network Dynamics Group at Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and SelfOrganization in Göttingen.

How to apply:

Applicants should send their CV including a short summary of their research experiences and
interests, copies of certificates as well as the name and contact details of two referees, by e-mail as a single PDF file to poramate@manoonpong.com. Please also specify the preferred topic, if applicable.

If you have any questions, please contact:
Dr.-Ing. Poramate Manoonpong

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience
Department for Computational Neuroscience
III Physikalisches Institut - Biophysik
Friedrich-Hund Platz 1
37077, Göttingen
E-Mail : poramate@manoonpong.com, poramate@physik3.gwdg.de

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