Want to get involved in the lab? Great! Taking on a student in the lab comes with many responsibilities for the PI (me) and for the student. I want to provide training opportunities but also want them to be high quality and also productive/fun. As a result, I'm fairly cautious about taking new students on. The following document gives an overview for different types of collaborators at different stages in your academic career (e.g., postdocs, PhD students, etc...) and also explains what positions are currently available.
Bottom line: What opportunities currently exist?
This is the top line summary as of right now, but read below for more detailed info.
Although you might have many questions about how to get involved in research, perhaps the first one you should be asking yourself is what you want to get out of doing research. For some people, the goal is to eventually become a tenured university professor. It is a great job, despite the many dismal takes about the state of higher education in the US. However, it is also a very competitive job market (way more highly skilled PhDs than there are tenure-track positions) and so you might want to think about what other things you can do with research experience (e.g., in industry). If you are applying to grad school, getting research experience can help you learn what types of work you want to do and gain some skills. But in all of this, it helps if you come to the table with clear ideas about why you are doing this. So begin by asking yourself a little, why research, why now, and why this lab particuarly?
Q: Are you accepting postdocs?
Right now, our lab is full and we are not looking for new postdocs. We may have openings starting in 2023. There are several exceptions. If you already have funding or want to apply for some specific funding with me and believe that this lab is the right place for training then please get in touch.
Q: Do you know of any funding opportunities for postdocs in your lab?
There are several programs you might look into. First, the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences directorate at the National Science Foundation funds postdoctoral research fellowships called SPRF. You can apply for these while still a PhD student with me as a sponsor. This takes several months of work and so needs a lot of planning. In addition, my lab has generally collaborated with the NYU Center for Data Science Faculty Fellows program. This is sort of like an "advanced postdoc/pre-faculty" type position that means you would not necessarily be "in" my lab but might have strong collaborations and even a desk in my lab (Brenden Lake, Neil Bramley, and Angela Radulescu all were postdocs in my lab under this program). If you think this might apply to you, please check out the NYU Faculty Fellows program. In addition, the NYU Provost's office funds several postdoctoral positions particularly those that enhance diversity. If you are an international student, there are several EU fellowships for study in other countries that you might look into.
Q: What do you look for in a postdoc?
Generally, I look for postdocs that will help to expand the types of research we can do. For this reason it is probably not a great idea to anchor too strongly on past postdocs. Instead, I'm interested in someone with interesting independent ideas that also has a strong idea about how we could collaborate. Generally I expect postdocs to have substantial computational skills and some experience with developing web-based experiments. In terms of psychological methods, it has been quite variable. Some postdocs with me have had expertise in fMRI and others in developmental psychology methods.
Q: Would you consider a remote postdoc?
Although the pandemic has shown us how we can collaborate effectively across great geographical distances, generally I find in person interactions much better and more fullfilling. For this reason I do not prefer a remote postdoc arrangment. However, certainly short-term exceptions can be made. NYU does provide postdoc housing although there is currently a substantial waitlist. The university is working to improve the situation.
Q: Are you accepting graduate students next year?
Yes, I plan to recruit 1-2 graduate students this year for PhD positions beginning Sept 2023 (i.e., Academic Year 2023-2024).
Q: How do I apply to work with you?
I can accept students through either the Psychology department or the Center for Data Science PhD programs. You can only apply to one of these programs so you might consider which is right for you. Generally, students who apply through CDS are given a slightly larger stipend, do not have guaranteed housing, and are evaluated more on technical skills relevant to a PhD in data science. In Psychology, the stipend is lower (but still matches what is considered a living wage in New York City), you typically are offered housing for the first year in Manhattan near the university, and your application would be competing against other applicants with backgrounds in behavioral sciences like psychology. Which program you are accepted into also strongly influences your course work during the PhD. For instance the CDS PhD will require more data science and machine learning courses. Psychology emphasizes more of a broad survey of ideas in the psychological sciences but also includes room for substantive quantitative courses (e.g., all the types of things you'd take in data science).
Q: What are the admissions criteria?
Admissions are based on your research experience and interests, your reference letters, and past academic performance (though the latter is the more minor consideration — grad school is not about taking classes, but about doing research). Having an idea of the sort of research you are interested in is important so that I can assess whether your interests are aligned with what we do. Admissions decisions are not made individually by me but are made by the faculty in the respective program based on space available and the recruitment goals of different faculty.
Q: If I were to be accepted, can you provide funding for my studies?
Yes. All full time PhD students admitted to NYU are guaranteed funding for the normal time of completion of their degree. This money comes from various sources including student scholarships, teaching assistantships, central university funds for student support, and research grants.
Research Assistants (Undergrad or Master's Degree)
Q: Can I work as a research assistant in your lab?
A: We currently do not accept unpaid volunteers in our lab, and all research assistant positions are paid positions. Undergraduates and MA students at NYU who are interested in our work can work in the lab as hourly employees during the school year, or as summer interns (see below). If you have already graduated from college and are looking for a full time research assistant position, check in with me by email. However I almost never have full time research assistants/lab managers.
Q: Do you hire lab managers?
A: I generally do not employ full time lab managers in my lab.
Interns/High School Students
Q: Do you accept undergraduate summer interns?
A: We do accept summer internships for students under several circumstances. The Center for Data Science runs a summer research program for MA students. Undergrads may be able to get funding on our existing grants or through other programs.
Q: Do you accept high-school students that are looking for a way to experience science hands-on?
A: Unfortunately, we do not currently have the resources to accept and train high-school students.
(Some of the above was adopted from Yael Niv's FAQ which apparently borrowed from Sam Roweis's FAQ. This is why we made github folks.)