Come be a “pal” in UD’s PAL Lab!
The PAL Lab is actively recruiting UD undergraduates as research assistants. We will also be recruiting a postdoc (to start in Fall 2023).
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.
The application deadline for starting the doctoral program in Linguistics and Cognitive Science in Fall 2023 has passed (the deadline was January 1st, 2023). However, we are always interested to hear from enthusiastic prospective lab members.
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).
To apply, be sure to take a look at the departmental admissions page. You should also check out the labs + work of other faculty members in the department; there are often opportunities for co-advising and/or collaboration.
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. In fact, Alon is an affiliated faculty member in PBS, so depending on your background and what kind of coursework/formal training you wish to receive (more psychology-oriented vs. linguistics-oriented), you might consider applying to work in the lab through PBS (either in addition to or instead of applying to LCS). If you are considering this, then you are encouraged to get in touch with Alon about it before you do so. Note that the application deadlines for PBS and LCS are different: for PBS, it is December 1st; for LCS, it is January 1st.
Note on GRE score reports: Currently, the department is not requiring 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.
We will be recruiting a postdoc in the Spring 2023 semester, to start in Fall 2023. 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!
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:
- be excited about cognitive science in general, and the topics we study such as visual perception, language, and their connection, in particular;
- have some basic familiarity with research methods in psychology (no prior research experience is required though); and
- 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:
- What is your class year and major (if you have one) here at UD?
- 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)?
- Why are you interested in getting research experience?
- What relevant coursework or research experience have you had? (It’s OK if the answer amounts to “not much”.)
- 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!).
- Do you have any experience with computer programming? If yes, what languages and at what level?
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!
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The Perception and Language Lab