Post-Baccalaureate Research Experience (PRE) Fellows Program

Program Description

MPFI PRE Program

The PRE Fellows Program at the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI) provides recent college graduates who are planning to apply to graduate school an opportunity to spend one or two years performing full-time research at MPFI. PRE Fellows work under the mentorship of some of the world’s leading scientists, in an environment that exclusively focuses on basic neuroscience research. MPFI consists of seven research groups in a state-of-the-art research facility located in Jupiter, FL on the same campus as Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and The Scripps Research Institute – Florida.

Potential candidates are encouraged to identify principal investigators that match their research interests before applying to the program by browsing the MPFI website under Our Scientists. Each PRE Fellow will be placed in a research group and work on a semi-independent project with close mentorship often provided by a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow. MPFI Core Facilities also offer training opportunities for PRE Fellows through collaborative projects with the Research Group Leaders specializing in the following areas: electron microscopy, super-resolution microscopy, data science, and machine learning.

PRE Fellows are regularly exposed to leaders in neuroscience outside of MPFI in the ongoing MPFI scientific seminar series, and often have the opportunity to interact with speakers at informal luncheons following the seminars. In addition to exposure to cutting edge neuroscience research, PRE Fellows also participate in a wide range of career education and professional development activities including: workshops on poster and oral presentations, computer coding bootcamp, sessions on preparing for graduate school applications, etc.

Please click here to view the 2018-2019 programming schedule for the MPFI PRE Fellows.


The MPFI PRE Fellows Program is intended for college graduates who have received their bachelor’s degree less than three years prior to the start date of the program that are planning to pursue a Ph.D. in biological/biomedical sciences. Candidates intending to apply to M.D./Ph.D. programs are also suitable. PRE Fellows must be available to work 40 hours/week and able to commit to the full duration of the PRE program. The 2019-2020 PRE Fellows program will run from July 16, 2019 to July 15, 2020.

Stipend Information

PRE Fellows receive competitive hourly compensation. Payment rates are adjusted yearly and also depend on the level of research experience.

Application Procedure

Prospective candidates must apply online on the MPFI Careers page during the 2019-2020 PRE program application period from February 15 – April 1, 2019. Applicants must provide the following information and documents to successfully submit the application:

  1. Basic contact information (Name, mailing address, phone number, email)
  2. Names and contact information for 3 references (faculty level strongly preferred)
  3. CV/resume
  4. Research Statement (1,000 words max)
    Please provide a research statement describing your qualifications and motivation for applying to the PRE Fellows Program. In your research statement, succinctly describe (1) your previous research experience (including experimental approaches and data analysis tools used) and how this experience has prepared you for the PRE Fellows Program at MPFI, (2) your academic and career goals and how the PRE Fellows Program will help you achieve these goals, and (3) which research group you are most interested in working with at MPFI and why.
  5. Unofficial transcripts for every university that you have attended

For inquiries regarding applications to the 2019-2020 PRE program, please contact Marilena Fernandez at


Applications will be reviewed following the application period, and the top candidates will be invited to interview by videoconference during the first two weeks of April. Individual PIs will select their own PRE Fellows from the applicants that advance to the interview round. Offers for the 2019-2020 PRE Fellows Program are anticipated to be sent out on May 1, 2019.

PRE Fellow Publications*

*Bolded author indicates MPFI PRE Fellow

Lee, K.-S., Vandemark, K., Mezey, D., Shultz, N., and Fitzpatrick, D. (2019). Functional Synaptic Architecture of Callosal Inputs in Mouse Primary Visual Cortex. Neuron, Online Publication.

Smirnov, M.S., Garret, T.R., and Yasuda, R. (2018). An open-source tool for analysis and automatic identification of dendritic spines using machine learning. PLOS ONE. Online Publication.

Smirnov, M.S., Evans, P.R., Garrett, T.R., Yan, L., Yasuda, R. (2017). Automated Remote Focusing, Drift Correction, and Photostimulation to Evaluate Structural Plasticity in Dendritic Spines. PLoS One 12, e0170586.

Steinecke, A., Hozhabri, E., Tapanes, S., Ishino, Y., Zeng, H., Kamasawa, N., and Taniguchi, H. (2017). Neocortical Chandelier Cells Developmentally Shape Axonal Arbors through Reorganization but Establish Subcellular Synapse Specificity without Refinement. eNeuro 4, ENEURO.0057-17.2017.

Lee, D.*, Hyun, J.H.*, Jung, K., Hannan, P., and Kwon, H.-B. (2017). A calcium- and light-gated switch to induce gene expression in activated neurons. Nat Biotech 35, 858-863.

Lee, D.*, Creed, M.*, Jung, K.*, Stefanelli, T., Wendler, D.J., Oh, W.C., Mignocchi, N.L., Lüscher, C., and Kwon, H.-B. (2017). Temporally precise labeling and control of neuromodulatory circuits in the mammalian brain.. Nature Methods, 14, 495-503.