Undergrad positions for a project on Pain & Sleep

Congratulations on your first step into the world of research!
Continue reading to find out what this project is about.

Are you a master student? This call is also for you!

The motivation

Pain and Sleep strongly influence each other.

Remember last time you were in pain. How many times did you wake up during the night? Or how difficult was it to fall asleep?

What about the sleep effect on pain sensitivity? When you didn't sleep long enough -or not at all- how bothering were the clothes you were wearing? And how annoying was everything?

We all have had these experiences (if you haven't, you are still very young and very healthy!), so we all know how pain and sleep interact with one another. Yet, what are the mechanisms allowing this interaction? We still don't know, and this is what we are studying.

Recommended reading:
"The association of sleep and pain: An update and a path forward" Finan et al., 2013
"Sleep deficiency and chronic pain: potential underlying mechanisms and clinical implications" Hack et al., 2020

The project

Both chronic pain and sleep disturbances decrease mu opioid receptor (MOR) expression in the brain.

Notably, brain areas of frontal thalamo-cortical networks strongly express MOR and are both involved in sleep and pain processes.

Thus, this project evaluates the role of MOR-expression thalamo-cortical circuits that may enable pain-sleep interactions

Your supervisors

You will be under my (Raquel Sandoval) direct supervision and Greg Corder will oversee your work.

I did my PhD in Switzerland, Europe, where I studied pain-sleep interactions using in vivo electrophysiological recordings. I joined the Corder Lab as a Postdoc in July 2023, where I combine in vivo electrophysiology with miniscope recordings to dissect the circuits driving the communication between pain and sleep. You will be helping me on this project.

What can you learn in the Corder Lab under my supervision

The project you are reading about is complex and combines many techniques. By joining the lab you can learn and become confident on these techniques to prepare for your own scientific career. These include but are not limited to:

  • Tissue processing
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Microscopy
  • DIY implants for in vivo electrophysiology
  • Basic data analysis and stats (& basic programming in Python/MATLAB)
  • Sleep scoring
  • Behavior

Depending on your motivation and how much time you can spend in the lab (it must be a minimum of 10 hours per week), you will get to do more or less of the listed techniques.

Which are my expectations for you

For any project involving team work, communication is key. Thus, I expect you to practice open communication. This means to communicate clearly, expose your doubts/concerns and immediately report any issue or problems.

Curiosity, attention to detail and motivation to learn are qualities that will elevate you in your career. Start practicing them asap! A stay in a research lab is the perfect environment for it!

As much as I value previous experience, one must start somewhere! Don't feel discouraged if you don't have lab experience, give it a try. However, you may need to put an extra effort!

Make sure you know how to pipette.


If you've made it this far down the document, congratulations! You're one step closer!

Send an email to [email protected] and [email protected] with the following two documents:

  1. Interest statement (2-3 paragraphs, 1 page max, double space, Times New Roman, font size = 12, normal margins)
  2. CV/resume (free style)

REMEMBER: Applicants must have the time to come to the lab for at least 10h a week. Only doing so, you can master the methods and have an impact on the project.

If you happen to be interested in joining during the summer, or during a specific time of the year, or you are -will be- part of a summer program, please let us know in the interest statement.