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Research Lab Tech II

Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences Los Angeles, California

The Cognition and Affect Regulation Lab, directed by Dr. Jonathan Stange in the Department of Psychology at the University of Southern California (USC), is seeking a full-time benefits-eligible Research Lab Tech II position.  The position involves a combination of duties in programming and data analysis, along with study coordination. Our lab seeks to identify cognitive and affective processes that are involved in the regulation of negative affect, in an effort to understand vulnerability factors for mood disorders and suicide. This work involves laboratory-based measures of brain activity (using fMRI), autonomic nervous system functioning (electrocardiogram and respiration), and behavior (executive functioning tasks and questionnaires). In addition, to understand behavior outside of the lab in the real world, we utilize ambulatory assessment to measure fluctuations in autonomic functioning (with wearables), sleep quality (with actigraphy), affect and regulation strategies (using ecological momentary assessment), and digital phenotyping approaches to measuring behavior (using smartphone keyboard metadata).

This position is ideal for a recent graduate from a Psychology, Neuroscience, Computer Science, Cognitive Science, or other STEM program who is interested in gaining clinical research experience in multimodal applied data analysis in mental health and/or neuroscience in preparation for graduate or medical school.

The is a one-year fixed term position with the possibility of renewal contingent on performance. 

Duties and Responsibilities: 

  • Data Analysis and Programming
    • Developing efficient data processing pipelines for psychophysiological data (e.g., heart rate variability), collected in the lab and in daily life with wearable ambulatory methods
    • Efficiently merging and aggregating data sets collected with multiple levels of analysis and across various time scales (e.g., millisecond, second, hourly, daily, weekly)
    • Developing and refining a preprocessing pipeline and building models with neuroimaging (fMRI) data
    • Processing psychophysiological data (e.g., heart rate variability)
  • Research Coordination
    • Employing various tools and recruitment efforts to enroll and retain young adults with major depression, suicidal ideation, or healthy controls (e.g., social media, digital advertising, referral management, advocacy outreach).
    • Data management and participant tracking
    • Conducting screenings and diagnostic interviews to assess history of psychopathology
    • Interacting with participants and as they participate in the study protocols (using neuroimaging, psychophysiology, ambulatory, and behavioral methods)
    • Assisting with other lab tasks (e.g., data entry, generating reports for data analysis)
    • Managing undergraduate volunteers and delegating duties efficiently

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in psychology, neuroscience, computer science, cognitive science, or related field required.
  • Programming experience, ideally in Python, or ability to quickly learn this language.
  • Experience with processing fMRI and/or physiological data (e.g., Matlab, SPM, AFNI, FSL, Freesurfer, Biopac).
  • Proficiency with database management (e.g., merging multiple data sets from various sources) across software platforms (e.g., R, Matlab, Mplus, SPSS, Excel).
  • Excellent analytical skills, the ability to resolve technical or research problems (troubleshooting) and the ability to critically check data to prevent errors.
  • Previous experience working with human subjects and conducting independent research projects.
  • Knowledge and adherence of clinical research methods and design, and research protocols.
  • Extremely careful attention to detail (required for data entry and processing of neuroimaging, psychophysiology, ambulatory, and behavioral data).
  • Excellent planning, organization, and prioritization skills, with the ability to independently monitor and complete a variety of complex tasks.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and excellent communication, organization, presentation and computer skills.
  • Ability to work effectively as part of a team (e.g., share duties with other research assistants when recruiting and running study participants; complete components of data analysis, slide presentations, and manuscript and grant preparations with the PI).
  • Ability to complete work both remotely (e.g., computer and internet access at home) and in-person, as may be required based on pandemic guidelines.

To apply or for more information: Please apply and submit (a) your resume/CV, (b) contact information for three references, and (c) a cover letter that details your interest in and perceived fit for the position, how it aligns with your career goals, and a description of your programming experience and how it meets the qualifications outlined above, to Dr. Jonathan Stange at Applicants are encouraged to submit their materials as soon as possible. Review will be on a rolling basis until the search is successful. More information about the lab is available here:

REQ20091457 Posted Date: 07/12/2021

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