Max Planck Florida Institute’s Neuroscience Undergrad Research Fellowship Prog. Accepting Applicants

Program Offers Opportunity to Work with Leading Neuroscientists at Unique New Institute

Online PR News – 05-January-2012 – – Contact: Dennis or Sheila Tartaglia
Tartaglia Communications
(732) 545-1848,

For Immediate Release

Max Planck Florida Institute’s Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program Accepting Applicants for Summer 2012

Program Offers Opportunity to Work with Leading Neuroscientists at Unique New Institute

Jupiter, FL, January 5, 2012– The Max Planck Florida Institute (MPFI) Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Fellowship program is accepting applications from highly motivated and talented science undergraduates who are interested in contributing to cutting edge neuroscience research at its facilities in Jupiter, Florida. The program runs from June 4 to August 24, 2012.

The 10-week program begins with a “boot camp” session, to familiarize students with common techniques used in neuroscience laboratories. The culminating poster session at the end of the internship enables students to gain experience in communicating their results.

“Undergraduates majoring in neuroscience, biology, physics, or computer science are the preferred candidates for this program,” says Jessica Herbst, MPFI’s Head of Academic Training Programs. “If students possess a moderate proficiency in MATLAB, with one to two semesters of coursework in neuroscience, all the better.”

Student interns will be provided with a $4,500 stipend, housing near the MPFI facilities, a food stipend comparable to a meal plan, and travel expenses to and from Jupiter, Florida. The application deadline is Midnight (EST) February 3, 2012.

“The Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program is an unparalleled learning opportunity designed for highly motivated and talented undergraduates who have an interest in neural circuits,” says Dr. Ana Fiallos, Head of Education Outreach at MPFI. “We especially seek those who have the potential to become physicists, engineers, mathematicians, and biologists who will go on to study the brain using an interdisciplinary approach.”

The Max Planck Florida Institute is the first institute established in North America by the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, a German-based non-profit research organization founded in 1948. One of the most prestigious scientific organizations worldwide, the Max Planck Society has 80 institutes. Seventeen Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists. The Max Planck Florida Institute brings together leading scientists representing a diversity of scientific disciplines and approaches in order to seek fundamental answers about brain function and neural circuits.

The Institute currently has six research groups, each focused on a different aspect and approach to neural circuit research.

• Disorders of Neural Circuit Function, led by McLean Bolton, PhD, focuses on understanding how brain circuitry is altered by injury and by genetic disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, autism, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, schizophrenia, and epilepsy.

• Mechanisms of Synaptic Signaling and Computation, led by Jason Christie, PhD, focuses on fundamental aspects of neurotransmission at synapses, the point-to-point connections between neurons: how synaptic transmission becomes stronger or weaker due to preceding neuronal activity.

• Functional Architecture & Development of Visual Cortex, led by David Fitzpatrick, PhD, Scientific Director & Chief Executive Officer, focuses on the functional organization and development of neural circuits in the cerebral cortex, the largest and most complex area of the brain, comprising 20 billion neurons and 60 trillion synapses. The proper functioning of this neuronal network is critical for sensory perception, motor control, and cognition.

• Digital Neuroanatomy, led by Nobel laureate Bert Sakmann, MD, PhD, Inaugural Scientific Director, focuses on functional anatomy of circuits in the brain – specifically the cerebral cortex – that form the basis of simple behaviors (e.g., decision making). In one major research initiative, the group is working to create a three-dimensional map of the normal rodent brain.

• Cellular Organization of Cortical Circuit Function, led by James Schummers, PhD, studies the functional organization of the cortex – the convoluted outer "shell" of the brain, which is responsible for many brain functions, including sensory perception, motor control and higher cognitive functions.

• Molecular Mechanisms of Synaptic Function, led by Samuel Young, Jr., PhD, studies the mechanisms of synapse function with the long term goal of using knowledge about these mechanisms to contribute to understanding - and eventually treatment – of the causes of neurological disorders such as mental retardation, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s disease. These disorders may be caused by disruptions in synapse structure and function.

While the majority of the interns’ time at MPFI will be spent contributing to current projects in the Institute’s research laboratories, they will participate in additional activities aimed at developing well-rounded future scientists. To ensure that interns gain experience communicating their research results, they must present their research during a poster session at the end of the internship. MPFI scientists as well as neighboring researchers from Scripps Florida will evaluate student posters and provide feedback.

More information and application instructions can be found on the Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program site: