Come be a pal in UD’s PAL Lab!

The PAL Lab is actively recruiting graduate students, a postdoc (to start in Fall 2024), and UD undergraduates as research assistants.

Of course, we are always interested in hearing from talented and enthusiastic prospective lab members, even when we are not actively seeking them. Feel free to send Alon a note if you’re interested in joining our group!

See below for more information.

Graduate Students

We are actively recruiting students for the doctoral program in Linguistics and Cognitive Science for Fall 2025! (The application deadline is January 1st, 2025.)

If you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to send Alon an email. If you do plan to get in touch, you should include: (1) your CV, (2) a few lines of what kind of research you’ve done in the past, and (3) how you see your current interests fitting into one or more of the lab’s lines of research. Make sure to read our lab’s website and learn about our active lines of research (the best way of doing this is by reading our most recent papers: we have new projects, but our publications should give you a good idea of the kind of work we — you! — might be doing).

Note that our lab is located in the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science (LCS), not the also-awesome Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences (PBS), which is a few minutes’ walk away and is a great opportunity for cross-departmental collaboration.

To apply to the lab, be sure to take a look at the LCS admissions page. You should also check out the labs and work of other faculty members in our department and in the Cognitive Area of PBS; there are often opportunities for co-advising and/or collaboration.

In addition, depending on your background and what kind of coursework/formal training you wish to receive (more linguistics-oriented vs. more psychology or neuroscience-oriented), you might consider applying to work in the lab via the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, or the new Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Graduate (ING) program. (The ING program assumes students are interested in studying the brain, but it does not require them to be manipulating or measuring the physical brain.)

Note that the Linguistics PhD requirements, the Neuroscience PhD requirements, and the Psychological and Brain Sciences PhD requirements are all different, so you should consider what might be the best fit for you. If you are considering the PBS or ING programs, then you are especially encouraged to get in touch with Alon about it before you do so.

Note that the application deadlines for PBS, ING, and LCS are different: for PBS and ING, it is December 1st; for LCS, it is January 1st.

Note on GRE score reports: The department does not require GRE scores. If you wish to apply without a GRE score, please enter a future GRE exam date into the application when prompted.

Note on application fees: Please do not be deterred from applying because of the application fee; if you would like to discuss the possibility of having this fee waived, please send a note to Dr. Satoshi Tomioka, the graduate director for LCS.

Postdoctoral Fellows

We are actively recruiting a postdoc to start in Fall 2024! So if you have a project or approach that you feel would be a good fit with our lab’s interests, or more generally, if your research interests line up with the lab’s, please don’t hesitate to email Alon to get in touch! (Also note that the start date is flexible.)

Undergrad Research Assistants (RAs)

Who can join the lab as an RA?

Currently, we are only recruiting UD undergraduates as RAs; we do not have full-time paid RA (or lab manager) positions at the moment. However, we are always looking for talented and enthusiastic individuals to collaborate with, and there are sometimes less conventional ways to make that happen (e.g., remote collaboration). So, if you’re interested, please get in touch with Alon.


Important information to know

Working in a lab as an undergraduate RA is a fantastic way to get research experience, which can be useful not only for preparing yourself for the next steps of a career in science, but also finding out whether you enjoy doing research in the first place. More importantly, research is interesting!

Most of our research is done via online experiments. This approach offers great opportunities for research, but it also means that RAs will generally not just “help out” with tasks often associated with in-person research (such as recruiting and running participants in the lab). At the same time, this opens a fantastic opportunity for self-driven and creative undergraduates: To join our lab, you should expect to lead your own project!

Indeed, an RA in our lab may be involved in all aspects of research on perception and language (in particular) and how the mind works (in general), including: designing research projects, running participants, analyzing data, presenting at academic conferences, and preparing manuscripts for publication. This is not the kind of RA position where you would be one small cog in a big machine.

For this reason, we are interested in especially dedicated undergraduates who can devote at least 8 hours or more per week to research in the lab. You should expect to lead your own project, which requires dedication and having or developing technical expertise. Initially RAs may start on a part-time volunteer basis, or possibly for course credit (as an independent study). There may also be opportunities for obtaining funds to work more full-time over the summer months.

Ideally, a research assistant in our lab would:

    1. be excited about cognitive science in general, and the topics we study such as visual perception, language, and their connection, in particular;
    2. have some basic familiarity with research methods in psychology (no prior research experience is required though); and
    3. be very comfortable working with computers (including spreadsheets, graphics programs, etc.); some familiarity with computer programming (e.g., HTML/CSS/JS, Matlab, Python, or R) is ideal. It’s okay if you don’t know how to code, but then part of you joining the lab is that you learn how to code your own experiments (typically in HTML/CSS/JS, but Python (e.g. PsychoPy) or Matlab may be useful too). Learning how to code is easier than you think, but most people stop trying early on because of the learning curve. Coding can be fun!


How to join

If you are interested in joining our lab, you should email Alon with answers to the following questions:

    1. What is your class year and major (if you have one) here at UD?
    2. How many hours a week can you commit to working in the lab? For how long can you commit to volunteer (e.g., a semester, a summer, a year)?
    3. Why are you interested in getting research experience?
    4. What relevant coursework or research experience have you had? (It’s OK if the answer amounts to “not much”.)
    5. What interests do you have about psychology, visual perception, and language? Broadly speaking, what would you like to study here in the lab? To answer this question, you could share a thought about one of our recent papers, or even propose a new study (whether based off a paper you read, or just out of the blue!).
    6. Do you have any experience with computer programming? If yes, what languages and at what level? (e.g., R, Python, MATLAB, HTML/CSS, JavaScript)
    7. Do you have any experience with graphic design? If yes, what software and at what level? (e.g., 3D modeling programs such as Blender; Photoshop; Illustrator)


Note that we are interested in having all sorts of students with different skills / backgrounds / experience. Even (or especially!) if you’re a first-year student with no experience in a lab, we want to hear from you!

The University of Delaware is an R1 research university with a beautiful, vibrant campus located in award-winning downtown Newark, Delaware. Newark has access to both nature and the “big city”: it is surrounded by spectacular parks and natural areas, yet is only an hour from both Philadelphia and Baltimore.