Janelia is a highly collaborative setting where biologists routinely work alongside computer scientists, engineers, physicists, and chemists. This enables undergraduate students to benefit from an unparalleled interdisciplinary experience.
The 2024 program will run from approximately late-May to early-August. Students will spend a full 10 weeks at Janelia, but we are flexible on the specific start and end dates to accommodate differing academic calendars at universities.
Accommodations and Support
All Janelia-Meyerhoff Undergraduate Students live on campus. All living expenses including housing, food, and travel to and from Janelia are covered by the program. Students receive a stipend of $6,000 for the 10-week period.
International students are eligible and visas will be supported.
Research Program Areas
Students can work on a range of projects in Janelia labs, including identifying the neurons that control feeding behavior in fruit flies, understanding the metabolism of cells, designing new biosensors for use with sophisticated microscopy, calcium imaging recording of the whole brain of larval zebra fish to study communication between neurons, glia, and developing computer programs for automated image analysis, and much more! The major research areas include:
Mechanistic Cognitive Neuroscience
The Mechanistic Cognitive Neuroscience area consists of fifteen independent labs focused on the ultimate question in neuroscience: how does the brain enable cognition? We investigate mental processes that enable animals to acquire knowledge and use it flexibly at a later time, thereby going beyond reflexive behavior. Examples of such processes include the generation of mental models of the environment (to navigate to goals) and of others (to navigate complex social situations), the development of expectations, and of decision-making with incomplete information. We work in close collaboration with tool-builders, theorists and computational experts in our pursuit of a detailed understanding of how cognitive processes and behavior are implemented at the level of circuits, cells, and molecules. This motivates our choice of model organisms with powerful genetic tools (flies, fish and rodents), and of experimental strategies that allow cellular-resolution monitoring and perturbation of neural activity during behavior. Undergraduates with an interest in animal behavior, neuroscience, biophysics, cognitive science, applied mathematics or related disciplines will enjoy a robust and collaborative research experience at Janelia.
Molecular Tools and Imaging
The Molecular Tools and Imaging area at Janelia consists of independent experts in a range of physical, chemical, and biological disciplines who invent novel reagents and technologies that push the boundaries of biological discovery. We develop microscopes that allow imaging of biological systems with unprecedented resolution and depth as well as new imaging agents that enable measurement of phenomena inside cells or animals. We also freely share our tools – a hallmark of the Janelia ethos – and the microscopes, dyes, and sensors developed at Janelia are being used in labs around the world. Undergraduates with an interest in biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, chemistry, physics, or related disciplines will enjoy a robust research experience with opportunities to collaborate with computational and biological scientists at Janelia.
Computation and Theory
C&T labs work on all aspects of computation that pervade modern biology, from experiment design to data analysis, modeling, and interpretation. We develop machine vision and learning algorithms for analyzing and interpreting the raw data collected at Janelia and elsewhere. We develop computational models and theories to transform these data into an understanding of how and why biological systems operate the way they do. Working with experimental biologists, we design new experiments to refine and test these theories, and fill in the biggest holes in our understanding of biological processes.
4D Cellular Physiology
4D Cellular Physiology is a new research area that lies at the interface of three major fields: cell biology, physiology, and anatomy. Research in this area aims to understand the how cellular mechanisms and cell-cell communication give rise to complex organ functions and how these processes are disrupted in disease. 4D references Janelia’s unique strength in using microscopy as a key tool for investigating cell structure through high resolution 3D imaging and analyzing temporal changes in cell function using biochemical sensors and tools for measuring and manipulating cell behavior. We anticipate research projects for undergraduates in the coming summer in investigating metabolism, liver function, cell structure, and potentially plant physiology, using a wide variety of tools including advanced microscopy, protein engineering and biochemistry, and computational image analysis.
Summer 2024 internships are available in the following Janelia labs:
- Misha Ahrens (mechanisms underlying behavioral flexibility, memory, and learning)
- Alejandro Aguilera-Castrejon
- Yoshi Aso (understand how neural representations of the sensory world generate learned behavioral responses)
- Abraham Beyene (using materials chemistry to develop nanoscale optical probes to study neurotransmission)
- Kristin Branson (develop new machine vision and learning technologies to extract scientific understanding from large image data sets. Using these systems, we aim to gain insight into behavior and how it is generated by the nervous system.
- Emily Dennis (how do animals use ambiguous sensory cues to perform this natural behavior? We study the behavioral, neural, and evolutionary mechanisms of "hunting in the dark")
- Isabel Espinosa Medina (using state-of-the-art imaging and genetic tools for temporal manipulation of cells in zebrafish and mouse)
- Daniel Feliciano ( study how organelles within cells are regulated by tissue microenvironments and how they adapt to diurnal fluctuations in nutrient availability)
- Jan Funke (developing computational methods to automatically analyze large microscopy datasets)
- Ann Hermundstad (identify efficient strategies that animals and brains use to make sense of their surroundings and guide smart behavior)
- Vivek Jayaraman (establishing causal links between the dynamics of neural circuits and the behavioral decisions that an animal continuously makes as it navigates a multi-sensory world)
- Rob Johnson (how rodents make predictions and plan future actions)
- Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz (microscopy approaches to study subcellular structures and how they impact neuron organization and function)
- Adriane Otopalik
- Marius Pachitariu (neural representations in large scale population recordings from cortex and beyond)
- Kayvon Pedram (develop tools that leverage the unique characteristics of glycans—sugars that decorate the surfaces of all cells—to deepen our understanding of cellular functioning and pathology)
- Michael Reiser (studying vision in flies to understand where behavior comes from)
- Chie Satou (exploring the cognitive repertoire of adult Danionella fish to understand distributed circuits underlying naturalistic behavior)
- Stephan Saalfeld (developing software for automatic image annotation)
- Eric Schreiter (developing molecular tools for reading, marking, and manipulating neuronal activity in model organisms)
- Allyson Sgro (understand how multicellular behaviors are coordinated and how these behaviors affect whole organisms)
- Nelson Spruston (neurophysiological basis of memory guided behavior)
- David Stern (evolution of genes and neural circuits that generate behavioral diversity)
- Alison Tebo (protein engineering to develop chemical biology tools at the transcellular level)
- Gowan Tervo (understand the mechanistic basis of social cognition by developing tools to reveal the neural basis of rodent social interaction in ethological settings)
- Srini Turaga (using machine learning to design new programmable microscopes and engineering protein sensors of neural activity)
- Ron Vale (focus on organelle cell biology of liver hepatocytes, particularly how proteins are sorted and targeted to apical and basal compartments and how mitochondria are positioned with cells, employing advanced light and electron microscopy as well as protein biochemistry to study these problems)
- Shahoe Wang (we combine embryonic and reconstitution approaches to discover principles of organ development)
- Meng Wang (decode the chemical language that orchestrates cellular homeostasis and organismal healthspan)
- Aubrey Weigel (aims to interrogate the 3D architecture and subcellular structures of cells in tissues at unprecedented resolution, surpassing classical methods of histology/pathology)