Ph.D. Student, Social Learning and Decisions lab at the University of Maryland

September 27, 2022

The Social Learning and Decisions lab at the University of Maryland (P.I. Caroline Charpentier – https://nacs.umd.edu/facultyprofile/charpentier/caroline#tab-biography) is looking to recruit a Ph.D. student in the Fall 2022 cycle (to start Fall 2023). Current research in the lab focuses on uncovering the behavioral and neural computations involved in human social and affective decision-making, with a strong interest in how individual variability in these processes and their underlying computations relate to psychopathology.

Students may enter through either the Department of Psychology’s Doctoral Program (https://psyc.umd.edu/graduate/about-doctoral-program) or the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (https://nacs.umd.edu/). The work you do and your status in the lab will not be affected by the program you choose, but these programs have different training requirements outside of the lab, so consider your choice carefully. If you are not sure which track to pursue, contact Dr. Charpentier (ccharpen[at]caltech.edu).

Research in the lab is interdisciplinary, at the interface between social neuroscience, behavioral economics and computational psychiatry, combining methods such as experimental design, neuroimaging, computational modelling, and testing in clinical populations. Because of that, no candidate is expected to join the lab with all of these skills, but experience in a subset of the following will be desirable:

  • Programming experiments and performing data analysis in R, Python, Matlab, JavaScript, and/or another programming language.
  • Familiarity with Git and GitHub for version control and code sharing, as well as OSF for pre-registration of experiments/hypotheses and data sharing.
  • Some exposure to computational models of learning and decision-making.
  • Experience screening and recruiting participants in the lab. Experience with or interest in working with clinical populations (autism, anxiety disorders) is a plus.
  • fMRI data collection and analysis with FSL, SPM, and/or another analysis package.
  • Basic computer science/engineering math: calculus, linear algebra, probability theory, frequentist and Bayesian statistics, dimensionality reduction methods, basic machine learning techniques.

The list above is meant to be fairly general and should not discourage you from applying – excitement about research and motivation to learn and fill in the gaps in knowledge and skills are more important! Candidates are expected to come from psychology, neuroscience, computer science, statistics, or other scientific and engineering disciplines. However, your exact undergraduate concentration/major doesn’t matter as long as you have had exposure to some of the above.

To apply, follow the instructions for the respective program, either through the Department of Psychology or the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science. Check whether you may be eligible for an application fee waiver here: https://gradschool.umd.edu/feewaiverinformation. Ensure that your research statement addresses how your research interests, past experience, and skill set are aligned with the lab’s research mission, as well as what your long term goals are and how you think being a graduate student in the respective program will help you achieve them. To the extent possible, I am also happy to schedule 30-minute chats on Zoom to discuss how our research interests overlap, what you hope to achieve in graduate school and in your career, and provide some guidance – do not hesitate to reach out with your CV and a short summary of your research interests at ccharpen[at]caltech.edu at least a few weeks before the application deadline (the earlier the better).

Outside of research, the newly-established lab prides itself with values of scientific integrity, diversity, equity, inclusion, open science, mentorship, collaboration, outreach, work-life balance, and we strive to ensure everyone’s well-being throughout their stay in the lab. Additionally, note that The University of Maryland, College Park is located five miles from Washington, D.C. and is metro accessible, with access to world class museums, restaurants, and entertainment. We are close to three large international airports, have access to other destinations on the eastern seaboard and beyond via Amtrak, and are a short drive away from beautiful landscapes and mountains in rural Maryland and Virginia.

The University of Maryland, College Park, an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, complies with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations regarding nondiscrimination and affirmative action; all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment. UMD is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, pregnancy, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected status in all aspects of employment. UMD is actively engaged in recruiting, hiring, and promoting underrepresented communities; minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply.

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