Open Postdoctoral Positions

Open Post-Doctoral Research Positions in the Study of the Neurobiological Basis of Executive Function in Adolescents

The Brain Behavior Laboratory (BBL) in the Department of Psychiatry and the Complex Systems Group (CSG) in the Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, invite applications for two open postdoctoral positions in the study of the neurobiological basis of executive function in adolescents. The program combines expertise at both BBL and CSG in the study of brain-behavior relations as they apply to normative neurodevelopment, with a focus on multimodal neuroimaging and graph theory. The program benefits from the many resources available to the neuroscience community at UPenn and welcomes applications from researchers interested in applying innovative imaging analysis techniques to the study of important questions in human development and cognitive function. Anticipated start date is July 2016.

Inquiries and letters of interest can be directed to Danielle Bassett at CSG ( or Ted Satterthwaite at BBL (


Open Post-Doctoral Research Position in the Study of the Neurobiological Basis of Violence and Self-Control in Adolescents

The Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) and the Complex Systems Group (CSG) headed by Danielle Bassett in the Department of Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania, invite applications for a postdoctoral position in the study of the neurobiological basis of violence and self-control in adolescents.  The program combines expertise at both APPC and CSG in the study of brain-behavior relations as they apply to policy relevant questions in adolescent development, with a focus on the maladaptive effects of exposure to media violence.  The program benefits from the many resources available to the neuroscience community at UPenn and welcomes applications from researchers interested in applying innovative neuroscience techniques to the study of important policy relevant questions.  Earliest start date is July 2016.

Inquiries and letters of interest can be directed to Danielle Bassett at CSG ( or Daniel Romer at APPC (


Open Post-Doctoral Research Position in Curiosity in Science and Engineering


Supported by an endowment from the Center for Curiosity (CfC), a New York-based not-for-profit, the School of Engineering in collaboration with the School of Social Policy and Practice (SP2) at the University of Pennsylvania has established a postdoctoral fellowship position in “Curiosity” targeted to scholars whose research may provide insights into curiosity and its related areas of inquiry within the disciplines of science and engineering. The fellowship is a unique one, allowing a fellow to build their own research portfolio, while working with a multi-disciplinary group of scholars to tackle socially-driven questions of human learning and knowledge acquisition.

We have identified curiosity as a central and defining aspect of the theory of mind, and yet, curiosity has not been as rigorously studied and theorized as some of its associated fields, such as innovation, creativity, imagination, and the like. In fact, it has remained relatively understudied with the exception of a small number of social psychologists and neurobiologists who have recently begun its excavation (See: Kashdan, 2009; Gruber, et al, 2014). In response, we focus on “curiosity” as a constitutive element of creative, open-minded, imaginative, and innovative approaches to the pursuit of scholarly knowledge and discovery in science and engineering. Our goal is to understand the implications of curiosity for science and engineering, what curiosity means in the context of scientific discovery and technology development, how curious thought can be studied from an engineering perspective, and the ethical implications of this combined new knowledge.  

Because curiosity is by its very nature ‘trans-disciplinary’, the postdoctoral fellow will sit in the engineering department, but their research will be socially applicable and relevant to real-world endeavors. Postdoctoral fellows are expected to generate research that clarifies the construct of curiosity and proposes novel methods by which to make curiosity a central component of classroom practice. What might engineering concepts and theories offer to the study of curiosity? The fellow will build upon the insights of Dr. Bassett and the Complex Systems Group in Penn and collaborate with professors and postdoctoral fellows in the School of Social Policy and Practice and Graduate Schools of Education.

During the fellowship term, scholars are expected to teach one course, specifically dedicated to curiosity and/or learning sciences. The course should be innovative and related to their area of expertise. Scholars will also be expected to lead an annual “Curiosity Conference” on Penn’s campus that should bring together leading intellectual figures from not-for-profit, corporate, educational, and academic spaces, along with monthly workshops and/or lectures that address relevant themes to both SP2 and CfC’s missions. Scholars will be expected to undertake two serious “publishable” products, which can take any form (papers, films, web platforms, web applications, etc.), which they will be expected to complete by the end of the fellowship term. Fellows are expected to reside in or near UPenn during the academic year and should participate fully in the intellectual life of the School of Engineering, SP2, and GSE.


The salary of the fellowship will be commensurate with the NEH or NIH postdoctoral scale (depending on the fellow’s background), beginning in August 2016 for a two-year period. In addition, fellows are provided with office space, a research account, and access to university grants, benefits and other resources.

Application Procedure

  1. A cover letter that includes:
  • How your research addresses the themes set forth by Engineering, SP2 and CfC
  • Your previous research and teaching interests
  • Your previous experience in collaborative partnerships inside/outside of the university
  • What research project you will undertake as a postdoc
  1. Curriculum vitae
  2. Writing sample: one chapter of the dissertation or one published article (maximum 25 pages)
  3. Research proposal
  4. One course proposal dealing specifically with curiosity from your disciplinary training

Application Deadline:

Applications are due by Jan 1, 2015. Interviews with finalists will be conducted during February and final decisions will be made by March 15, 2015. Applications may be submitted to Danielle Bassett at CSG (

Eligibility Criteria:

  • PhD degree requirements. Please note the fellowship’s dates of degree eligibility. These are firm dates with no exceptions:
    1. Candidates already holding the PhD degree at time of application: You must have received your degree between January 1, 2013 and September 1, 2016.The receipt of the PhD is determined by the date on which you fulfilled all requirements for the degree at your institution, including the defense and filing of the dissertation.
    2. Candidates who are ABD (all but dissertation) at time of application: If you are expected to have fulfilled all conditions for the degree, including defense and filing of dissertation, by September 1, 2016, you may still apply for a postdoctoral fellowship
  • Please note that candidates awarded a fellowship will be asked to provide a document from either the Registrar or Dean of their Graduate School by September 1, 2016, to confirm completion of all requirements for the PhD.
  • Fellowships will be awarded to candidates at the beginning of their academic career. Candidates must have already demonstrated outstanding scholarly achievement and excellence in teaching. Their work should also show evidence of unusual promise and should explicitly mention innovative interdisciplinary approaches to scholarly knowledge production.
  • US citizens and non-US citizens, regardless of race, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, or disability, are eligible to apply.

Who we are:

The School of Social Policy & Practice contributes to the advancement of more effective, efficient and humane human services through education, research and civic engagement. In pursuit of this mission, our theory-based masters and doctoral programs in social work, social welfare, non-profit leadership and social policy encourage students to think and work across disciplinary lines and cultures as well as across national and international boundaries. The pursuit of social justice is at the heart of the School’s knowledge-building activities. Our innovative educational and research programs reinforce our vision of active student engagement in their own learning as well as that of social agencies and larger social collectivities organized at the local, national and international levels.

The Center for Curiosity is a transnational not-for-profit that conducts rigorous research on curiosity, establishes assessment criteria by which to measure curiosity, and raises awareness of curiosity’s benefits. The evidence-based ideas we develop and the teaching tools we create are for anyone curious enough to try a new approach to learning. For more information visit us at:

Complex Systems Group is a transdisciplinary group in the Department of Bioengineering that uses tools from the fields of network science and complex systems theory to understand physical, biological, and social systems. Recent work has emphasized the understanding of human learning, which is a fundamental cognitive processes impacted by curiosity.




The University of Pennsylvania is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment and will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability , veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.