Research Assistant in Human Movement Neuroscience

Computational and Biological Learning Lab,
Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge

Applications are invited for the post of Research Assistant on a project under the direction of Professor Daniel Wolpert which studies how humans learn to make skilled movements. The research involves novel experimental techniques that include robotic interfaces and virtual reality to examine the basis of skilled movement. The role will involve assisting with recruiting and running experimental subjects as well as developing and maintaining laboratory equipment. The successful applicant will be motivated, organised, and able to work independently to deadlines as well as be able to work to instruction, with attention to detail and good interpersonal/communication skills.

The successful candidate will have a good first degree in a relevant science subject (e.g. psychology, neuroscience, engineering, computer science, maths, physics etc.). Computer literacy is essential and practical skills in electrical/mechanical construction and computer programming would be advantageous.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 2 years in the first instance.

Informal enquiries can be addressed by email to Professor Wolpert (

Details of our research can be viewed in the following TED talk

Laboratory facilities

Professor Wolpert's laboratory is designed for the study of arm and hand movements. The laboratory is currently equipped with

Robotic systems
  • Multiple custom-built and commercial two and three degrees-of-freedom robotic systems
Motion analysis systems
  • Optotrak infrared motion tracking system
  • Electromagnetic Polhemus tracking systems
  • Eyelink eye tracker
  • 6-axis force transducers
  • Accelerometers
  • Goniometers
Visual display systems
  • Stereoscopic visual display systems.
  • Virtual reality systems
Physiological recording/stimulation
  • Muscle Electromyography (EMG)
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
For some further details see here

The Group

The group consists of between 6 and 10 researchers at various levels of training, from MSc and PhD students to postdoctoral fellows.

The Position

The Research assistant will assist in

Recruiting and Running Subjects
  • Maintaining the online Subject Recruitment System.
  • Managing posters and adverts for subjects.
  • Running subjects in experiments.

Laboratory Maintenance and Administration
  • Maintenance of current laboratory equipment.
  • Assist in maintenance of the groupís computer facilities.
  • Contributing towards the overall operation of the laboratory and any general housekeeping issues in the laboratory.
  • Routine inspection and maintenance of workshop equipment and laboratory apparatus.
  • Maintaining and organizing the groupís mechanical and electronic workshops.

Development of Laboratory Equipment
  • Sourcing and ordering parts and equipment.
  • Assist in construction of electronic and mechanical equipment, including new and existing virtual reality and robotic technologies.
  • Working from verbal instructions, drawings, sketches or manuals and using standard workshop equipment.

Person Specification

Education & qualifications: Bachelor degree in a relevant science (e.g. psychology, neuroscience, engineering, computer science).

Specialist knowledge & skills: Excellent computer skills are essential. Practical skills in electrical/mechanical construction and computer programming would be beneficial.

Interpersonal & communication skills: Excellent interpersonal and communication skills are required.

Additional requirements: The ability to work independently to deadlines as well as be able to work under instruction, with good attention to detail, are essential.

Salary and tenure

The post is available now, for 2 years in the first instance. Starting salary will be in the range £24,049 to 27,047 pa depending on qualifications and experience.

Pre-employment Check Requirements

The University has a legal responsibility to ensure that all new employees evidence eligibility to work in the UK before commencing their employment. Any offer of employment we make to you will be conditional upon you gaining legal permission to work in the UK if you do not have this already. Please see the Right to Work page within the ‘Applying for a job’ section of the University’s Job Opportunities pages (found at for further information.

Application Process

To apply, complete form CHRIS /6 available here and send by e-mail, with a letter of application and a CV (in pdf or plain text formats if possible) with the details (including e-mail addresses) of two referees to Ms Diane Unwin (, Department of Engineering, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1PZ, (tel: +44 (0)1223 748529), so as to reach her not later than 5pm 19th August, 2013. Applicants should also arrange for their referees to email references directly to Ms Diane Unwin. Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed as soon as possible after the closing date.

The Department of Engineering

The Department of Engineering has a world-wide reputation for first-class academic research with a 5* RAE rating. It is the largest department in the University (accounting for 10% of the University) and encompasses a huge diversity and variety of activities. The Department has six academic divisions (each equivalent to a small or medium sized department).

Benefits of Working at the University

The University of Cambridge comprises more than 150 departments, faculties, schools and other institutions, plus a central administration and 31 independent and autonomous colleges. It is one of the world’s oldest and most successful Universities, with an outstanding reputation for academic achievement and research. With excellent benefits, extensive learning opportunities and a stimulating and attractive environment, the University of Cambridge is a great place to work. Our employees are eligible for a wide range of competitive benefits and services. We give them access to numerous discounts on shopping, health care, financial services and public transport. We also offer final salary pensions and tax-efficient bicycle and car lease schemes. We have two nurseries and a holiday play scheme to help support those with childcare responsibilities and we offer various types of family-friendly leave to aid employees’ work-life balance. In addition, our staff have generous annual leave entitlement and we operate a number of initiatives to promote career development, health and well-being.

Equality of Opportunity at the University

The University of Cambridge is committed to a proactive approach to equality, which supports and encourages all under-represented groups, promotes an inclusive culture and values diversity. Entry into employment with the University is determined by personal merit and by the application of criteria required for the post. No applicant for an appointment or member of staff will be treated less favourably than another on the grounds of sex (including gender reassignment), marital or parental status, race, ethnic or national origin, colour, disability (including HIV status), sexual orientation, religion, age or socio-economic factors. The University has various diversity networks which help it to progress equality; these include the Women’s Staff Network, the Disabled Staff Network, the Black and Minority Ethnic Staff Network and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Staff Network. In addition, the University was ranked in the top 100 employers for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) staff in Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index 2011.

Information if you have a Disability

The University welcomes applications from individuals with disabilities and is committed to ensuring fair treatment throughout the recruitment process. Adjustments will be made, wherever reasonable to do so, to enable applicants to compete to the best of their ability and, if successful, to assist them during their employment. We encourage applicants to declare their disabilities in order that any special arrangements, particularly for the selection process, can be accommodated. Applicants or employees can declare a disability at any time. Applicants wishing to discuss any special arrangements connected with their disability can, at any point in the recruitment process, contact The HR Office who are responsible for recruitment to this position, on 01223 748225 or by email on Alternatively, applicants can contact the HR Business Manager responsible for the department they are applying to via
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