The Janelia Joint Graduate Program is a fully-funded, collaborative PhD program for independent, committed graduate scholars in partnership with The Johns Hopkins University.
Graduate scholars in the program spend their first year at the partner university and then reside at Janelia for the remaining years of the program to conduct their thesis research. Degrees are granted by Johns Hopkins. Scholars have two supervisors, one at Janelia and the other at Johns Hopkins.
Graduate scholars conduct research in the following fields:
- Behavioral & Systems Neuroscience
- Cellular & Molecular Neuroscience
- Evolution & Genetics
- Instrumentation & Computational Tool Development
- Neuronal Cell Biology
- Optical Physics & Imaging
- Structural Biology & Biochemistry
- Theory & Computational Neuroscience
The program is intentionally small, which allows us to meet each scholar's individual needs. Graduate scholars benefit from considerable personal attention in the laboratory to support their training and professional development.
Featured Student: Matt Isaacson
1. Tell us about yourself
I am a 4th year graduate student in the Janelia-Cambridge program. Since earning my engineering B.S. from the University of Florida in 2012, I have spent time working in several neuroscience labs, most of them studying various subfields of sensory biology in animal models: nAChR dynamics with frog eggs, thermosensation in mice, auditory perception in crickets and locusts, and now motion vision in flies. I try to avoid spending all day in the lab, so my hobbies outside of work include cooking, scuba diving, and lots of travelling and backpacking with my wife Ally and our dog Sydney.
2. What brought you to Janelia?
After finishing my undergrad, I spent a couple years at the NIH main campus in Bethesda, MD, working under Mark Hoon and Nick Ryba. While I was applying to graduate school, they strongly suggested I consider Janelia for the outstanding resources and training I could receive. After interviewing and touring the facility, I was pretty well sold on the place and thought I had a chance for a very interesting and productive PhD with Michael Reiser, and it was further hard to turn down the opportunity to spend a year in England as part of the Janelia-Cambridge program.
3. What research projects are you working on?
My research projects aim to learn more about how fly the visual system detects complex motion. We know that the fly optic lobe builds up an array of elementary motion detectors, but it isn’t clear how the information in this array is integrated to detect more behaviorally relevant wide-field motion, such as the various types of self-motion. I am gaining insights into this system by using new tools to present visual stimuli to tethered flies, and using split-Gal4 lines of uncharacterized visual projection neurons for functional imaging experiments and silencing/activation behavioral assays.
4.What advice do you have for someone interested in doing research at Janelia?
I would recommend taking advantage of Janelia’s shared scientific resources as much as possible. For example: Experimental Technology, Scientific Computing, or the various microscopy groups can really enable you to conduct top-quality research. Take some time in the beginning to familiarize yourself with what’s available to help your research and who you need to speak with about getting the process started - these shared resources are all very welcoming and responsive to new collaborations.