[CogSci] Postdoc position with Wei Ji Ma at NYU on planning

Weiji Ma weijima at nyu.edu
Tue Dec 15 04:55:15 PST 2020

Postdoc position with Wei Ji Ma at NYU: human planning in complex tasks

The laboratory of Wei Ji Ma at New York University (
http://www.cns.nyu.edu/malab) is looking for a postdoc to study human
planning with large decision trees from a behavioral and computational
perspective, with a special interest in social aspects.

Research description: The overall goal of the research is to understand how
people plan when the number of possible futures is exponentially large. To
approach this goal, we use behavioral experiments (in lab and online),
computational process models, and neural networks. We have initial work
and several ongoing/early-stage projects in this area; this Cosyne talk
is a good overview (starting at 47:37). Our modeling approaches are of the
type used in computational cognitive science. The modeling allows us to
estimate process variables, such as depth of planning. To give you an idea
of specific questions: 1) How does the option of undoing previous actions
improve performance? 2) Are measures of planning ability correlated across
tasks? 3) Does learning in one planning task transfer to another? 4) How do
people take into account the plan of a collaborator without or with verbal
communication? 5) How does human planning compare to machine planning?

Job description: As a postdoc in the lab, you will be involved in
conceptual development, theoretical development, experimental design, data
collection, data analysis, data interpretation, manuscript writing, and
dissemination of results. You will co-mentor Ph.D. students. You will be
part of the lab community and the broader NYU/NYC psychology/neuroscience
community, with connections to data science and economics. Salary will be
about $58K a year. The appointment is for two years with the possibility of
extension; funding is guaranteed but grant writing will be encouraged.

Qualifications: We are looking for someone who (1) is open-minded,
resilient, and motivated to work on relatively narrow problems with
potentially broad implications; (2) has experience in theoretical or
computational approaches, in particular in reinforcement learning,
artificial intelligence/machine learning, or approximate inference; (3) has
experience in human behavioral experiments; (4) is interested in social
cognition; (5) is interested in the connections between computational
cognitive science and artificial intelligence/machine learning.

Lab culture: We care a lot about mentorship quality, a positive lab
culture, diversity/equity/inclusion, and work-life balance. For more
details, see http://www.cns.nyu.edu/malab/lablife.html. We are looking for
someone who is kind, helpful, and cares about making the lab and the
broader community better for everyone, and who is interested in mentoring
scientists more junior than themselves. Many lab members have been involved
in science policy, mentorship through personal narratives, advocating for
diversity and inclusion, science advocacy, science outreach, and mentoring
high school students. We started Growing up in Science
<http://www.growingupinscience.org/> and the Scientist Action and Advocacy
Network <http://www.scaan.net/>. For more details, see

To apply, please email a statement of interest and your CV to Wei Ji at
weijima at nyu.edu, with subject line “Postdoc in planning”. The position will
be open until filled.

NYU is an Equal Opportunity Employer and is committed to a policy of equal
treatment and opportunity in every aspect of its recruitment and hiring
process without regard to age, alienage, caregiver status, childbirth,
citizenship status, color, creed, disability, domestic violence victim
status, ethnicity, familial status, gender and/or gender identity or
expression, marital status, military status, national origin, parental
status, partnership status, predisposing genetic characteristics,
pregnancy, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, unemployment status,
veteran status, or any other legally protected basis. Women, racial and
ethnic minorities, persons of minority sexual orientation or gender
identity, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to
apply for vacant positions at all levels.

Wei Ji Ma, Ph.D.
Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology, New York University
Lab: http://www.cns.nyu.edu/malab
Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Psychology
Co-Director, Training Program in Computational Neuroscience
Founder and organizer, *Growing up in Science*
Founding member, *Scientist Action and Advocacy Network*
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