SPARQ Launches New Postdoc Program
Stanford SPARQ is launching a postdoctoral fellowship program for recent Ph.D. graduates with significant social psychological training who want to gain experience with research that is focused on addressing timely social problems and grounded in research-driven partnerships with practitioners. We plan to hire up to 5 postdoctoral fellows to join the Stanford University Psychology Department starting in the Fall of 2023. Fellowship appointments could span 2 years: they are guaranteed for 1 year and may be renewed for a second year contingent on strong performance.
The goal of Stanford SPARQ’s postdoctoral fellowship program is to promote the professional development of social psychologists who want to pursue research focused on timely social problems and collaborate with practitioners on research-driven partnerships for change.
Stanford SPARQ is a behavioral science “do tank” at Stanford University, located in the Department of Psychology. The center builds research-driven partnerships with industry leaders and changemakers to combat bias, reduce societal disparities, and drive culture change. SPARQ works in the areas of criminal justice, economic mobility, education, health, and media + tech. SPARQ’s Faculty Co-Directors are Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt and Dr. Hazel Rose Markus, and its Managing Director is Dr. MarYam Hamedani. To learn more about SPARQ and our work, visit sparq.stanford.edu.
By participating in the program, postdoctoral fellows will have the opportunity to collaborate on ongoing projects with SPARQ and social psychology faculty at Stanford, develop new research, and grow their skills. They will join a community of bridge builders between research and application who want to put social psychology to work in the world, bust the basic-applied binary, and learn from practitioners working to fight inequality and inspire cultural change in diverse domains. The work we do begins with developing a solid social scientific foundation for change, including producing state-of-the-art research publications as well as practitioner-facing tools. Professional development opportunities will be available for all candidates considering a variety of career pathways with a focus on applied behavioral science. Mentorship will be tailored to research and professional interests.
To start in the Fall of 2023, 3 positions will be available within SPARQ (to be directed jointly by Drs. Jennifer Eberhardt, Hazel Rose Markus, and MarYam Hamedani) and 2 with participating faculty affiliates Dr. Alia Crum (Director of the Mind & Body Lab) and Dr. Greg Walton (Co-Director of the Dweck-Walton Lab). See below for descriptions of the fellowship positions.
- Candidates must have a Ph.D. in Psychology or related field with significant training in quantitative, experimental social psychology. If the Ph.D. is not yet complete, candidates must be completing their dissertation with graduation expected by the end of Summer 2023.
- Successful candidates will have demonstrable skills in advancing psychological and behavioral science research from conceptualization to publication, and a readiness to partner with practitioners in public and private sector organizations on research in naturalistic settings.
- Candidates with experience managing relationships between partners in the university and public and/or private sector organizations is a plus; experience working with multidisciplinary research teams and communicating research to nonacademic audiences is also a plus.
- Candidates should also be able to demonstrate: the ability to work well and thrive in an array of complex environments, under changing conditions, and with people from a range of diverse professional and personal backgrounds; a passion for people, dedication to learning, and commitment to SPARQ’s mission; excellent written, visual, and oral communications skills.
- Application materials should be submitted using this online form. Applications not submitted through this link will not be considered.
- Application review will begin on March 3, 2023. Finalists will be invited to a Zoom (i.e., remote) interview.
- Applicants will be notified of the fellowship outcome in the spring.
Please prepare the following materials to be submitted using the online form. Applicants will also be asked to provide contact and background information, and contact information for 2 references.
- A cover letter (detailing the candidate’s interest in the position, how those interests would be advanced by the fellowship, and future career goals; 2 pages max)
- Curriculum vitae
- Research statement (3 pages max)
- Representative manuscript (for a writing sample)
- Optional additional writing sample: Short piece for a nonacademic audience (e.g., op-ed, policy brief). Do not include a second academic writing sample.
- Unofficial transcript
Compensation, Benefits, and Additional Information
- Fellows will receive competitive compensation, standard employee benefits, and a modest one-time research and travel fund.
- Fellows will have office space with their respective labs and access to university facilities.
- The expected base pay for this position is $70,300. Pay will be determined based on factors including (but not limited to) the qualifications of the selected candidate, budget availability, and internal equity.
- Stanford University is an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer, committed to increasing the diversity of its workforce. It welcomes applications from women, members of minority groups, veterans, persons with disabilities, and others who would bring additional dimensions to the university's research and teaching mission.
- We particularly encourage applications from women, minority, and first-generation Ph.D. recipients, and candidates from a broad diversity of Ph.D.-granting institutions.
Inquiries about this program can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “SPARQ Postdoctoral Fellows Program” in the subject line.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which fields of study are eligible for consideration?
Scholars with graduate study in Psychology or related fields and significant training in quantitative, experimental social psychology will receive highest priority. Candidates must have received their terminal degree (Ph.D.) before the start of the fellowship in the Fall of 2023.
Are fellows expected to be on-campus?
Fellows are required to live in the Bay Area for the entire duration of their appointments. While they may work a hybrid schedule, fellows will be expected to be active participants in their cohort and labs, including attending regular in-person meetings and events. They will also benefit from engaging in the intellectual life of the social area, the Psychology Department, and connecting with other relevant centers, institutes, and programs throughout the Stanford community.
What types of representative manuscripts are acceptable for the writing sample?
Please use the following guidelines:
- First or co-first authored articles, dissertation chapters, or book chapters are preferred. Second or third co-author of an article, dissertation, or book chapter is acceptable.
- Submit the piece in its entirety.
SPARQ Postdoctoral Fellowship Position Descriptions
Below are descriptions of the positions available as part of the program. Applicants can apply to one fellowship position only and will have the option to indicate whether they would like to be considered for a second position if they are not selected for their first choice.
SPARQ Criminal Justice Fellow
Stanford SPARQ | Co-directed by Drs. Jennifer Eberhardt, Hazel Rose Markus, & MarYam Hamedani
The Criminal Justice Fellow will participate in advancing the center’s projects on the criminal justice system, with a focus on policing and public safety. One branch of this work leverages existing law enforcement agency data (e.g., police body-worn camera footage) to better understand the nature of law enforcement’s encounters with the public, and, in turn, develop and evaluate tools, trainings, and interventions that are designed to improve police practices, reduce racial disparities, and improve police-community relations. Another branch of this work zooms out and examines the broader societal context of policing and public safety, including narratives about race and crime, criminal justice system reforms, and how information about racial disparities in the criminal justice system (and beyond) is communicated and could affect people’s policy preferences. A major funder of these projects is the MacArthur Foundation.
The Fellow will play a key role in several projects that examine the impact of broader narratives about crime, safety, racial disparities, and criminal justice reform, and will collaborate with SPARQ’s academic partners in linguistics and computer science on research that leverages body-worn camera footage to better understand interactions between police and community members and evaluate the efficacy of interventions designed to improve them. This work is done in partnership with local police departments and other stakeholders. These projects rely on an array of methods (e.g., community surveys, experiments with police officers) and different types of data (e.g., pre-existing law enforcement agency data, data collected from field experiments).
This position will involve collaborating on ongoing experiments and studies, designing and carrying out new research, quantitative data analysis, writing and presenting results, and sharing results with stakeholders. This position requires experience with experimental study design, survey design, and familiarity with “big data” and analyzing large, pre-existing datasets. Candidates should have expertise in the criminal justice system, race and crime, and psychological and societal factors contributing to racial disparities and inequality in the U.S. Experience with law enforcement agencies and other practitioners in the U.S. criminal justice system is a plus.
SPARQ Economic Mobility Fellow
Stanford SPARQ | Co-directed by Drs. Jennifer Eberhardt, Hazel Rose Markus, & MarYam Hamedani
The Economic Mobility Fellow will play a key role in advancing an ongoing project on economic justice, inequality, and policy support. Efforts to combat poverty and inequality in the U.S. inevitably confront a major cultural barrier: a default focus on individualism and personal responsibility. Could the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic provide an opening for cultural change in how Americans think about people’s life chances and outcomes? With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, SPARQ is examining the potential to update the American Dream, testing “aid-for-agency” mindsets and their potential to combat the stigmatization and racialization of poverty and inequality.
Studies include developing and testing interventions for building bipartisan support for redistributive social and economic programs (e.g., guaranteed income, housing vouchers), as well as for mitigating prejudice against people in poverty and recipients of such programs. Experiments will examine how certain types of stories and narratives may shape public opinion across the political spectrum. We will test these approaches through online survey experiments and longitudinal field experiments with media partners. The opportunity may develop to partner with social programs directly. In such a partnership, our team would conduct field experiments to test approaches for messaging their services and research findings, both to the general public and program participants, in ways that build support for and destigmatize programs.
Overall, work on this project will involve designing media- and narrative-based interventions, running online and field experiments, conducting quantitative causal analysis and text analysis, writing and sharing results, and possibly partnership management. Experience with economic inequality and/or policy focused research is a plus for this position. The Fellow will also have the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Catherine Thomas at the University of Michigan, who helped develop this work while earning her Ph.D. in social psychology at Stanford and as a postdoctoral scholar at SPARQ.
SPARQ Media Fellow
Stanford SPARQ | Co-directed by Drs. Jennifer Eberhardt, Hazel Rose Markus, & MarYam Hamedani
The Media Fellow will meaningfully contribute to an ongoing project assessing the state of racial representation on television and testing its impact on viewers’ social and racial attitudes. Television and media are a powerful part of culture; they represent people and tell stories in ways that both reflect and shape society. Over the last decade, the media industry has made strides in diversifying representation. However, we have little psychological evidence for the impact of increasing racial representation on viewers’ attitudes.
In partnership with BET (Black Entertainment Television) and Paramount, SPARQ is taking a multi-pronged approach to understanding the nuance of representation and its impact. In one arm of the project, we are collaborating with computational linguists to analyze popular television scripts using Natural Language Processing. In another arm, we are experimentally testing the relationship between racial representation on television and viewers' social and racial attitudes. Specifically, we have designed a series of experiments with novel video stimuli where we systematically vary how Black and White characters are represented. To assess viewer attitudes, we have developed dependent measures that measure viewers’ likelihood to stereotype Black actors and to consume diverse media content in the future.
This position will involve supporting ongoing experiments and studies, designing and carrying out new experimental studies in collaboration with the project team, quantitative data analysis, writing and disseminating results, and presenting results to our partners. This position requires experience with experimental study design and with hierarchical linear modeling. Candidates should have expertise or strong experience in the study of racial bias, stereotyping, prejudice reduction, and intergroup contact. Experience with media studies is a plus.
SPARQ Education Fellow
Dweck-Walton Lab | Directed by Dr. Greg Walton
The SPARQ Education Fellow will help to advance projects at SPARQ and the Dweck-Walton Lab on education, with a focus on supporting a strong sense of belonging in school for all students. While many projects examine students’ experience of belonging, and the fellow is expected to bring their relevant interests to the fellowship, the fellow will also have opportunities to contribute to specific ongoing projects.
One of the most important predictors of success for any student is a strong, trusting relationship with a teacher. Yet many groups of students are at risk of marginalization, of being put in a cognitive box, with their goals and values unseen or misunderstood by the educators responsible for their academic growth, and thus fail to experience the benefits of such relationships. One branch of this work builds on targeted procedures we have developed to give students at-risk of marginalization a process and a platform by which to introduce themselves, including their goals, their values, and challenges they face, to educators of their choosing. This work centers youth voices and choices, to help educators understand and support students more effectively. One aspect of this work involves a partnership with multiple school districts to learn how schools can implement this procedure with youth returning to school from a period in juvenile detention and, then, to provide a large-scale experimental evaluation of its effectiveness in improving fundamental longitudinal outcomes (e.g., increasing school engagement, reducing recidivism), extending a past smaller scale evaluation. A second involves the development, implementation, and evaluation of a family of related procedures to strengthen teacher-student relationships for other populations, including English Language Learners, students with substance use issues, foster youth, youth facing housing instability, and refugee students, among others. A third involves laboratory studies to better understand critical psychological and social processes, including how educators respond to the self-introductions of youth at key periods. Other branches of research examine how to better support teachers in pivotal communications with students, such as in providing critical academic feedback so as to sustain students’ trust and motivation and mitigate inequalities, and how to support strong and agentic self-identities in students when situations pose them as weak or deficient. Funding for these projects is provided by Stanford Impact Labs, the Stuart Foundation, the Office of Community Engagement at Stanford, and RPPL.
The Fellow will play a key role in these projects and others. This work is done in partnership with education leaders and other stakeholders. These projects rely on an array of methods (e.g., design work, laboratory experiments, intervention field experiments) and different types of data (e.g., qualitative responses, quantitative psychological measures, school record data, etc.).
This position will involve collaborating on ongoing experiments and studies, designing and carrying out new research, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, writing and presenting results, and sharing results with stakeholders. This position requires experience with experimental study design, survey design, and analyzing large datasets. Candidates should have expertise in education and psychological processes, ideally including belonging, and in psychological and societal factors that contribute to inequality in education in the U.S. and elsewhere. Experience working with education partners is a plus.
SPARQ Health Fellow
Mind & Body Lab | Directed by Dr. Alia Crum
The SPARQ Health Fellow will contribute to projects at SPARQ and the Mind & Body Lab examining the influence of mindsets on key behavioral and physiological health outcomes. The influence of the mind on the body is palpable in our everyday pursuits, yet this influence is widely overlooked in the medical field. The overall aim of our work is to help shift the dominant paradigm toward viewing the mind as integrated and central in health. We develop rigorous experiments to isolate and examine the mind’s influence on health, and use these insights to design and test interventions to more effectively harness the mind’s influence, with the goal of improving public health and healthcare.
One line of research explores the influence of mindsets on the health and well-being of those living with chronic illness. While chronic illnesses are physiologically complex, the negative repercussions are not entirely dictated by their biological reality; they are also profoundly shaped by psychological factors. In particular, illness mindsets, or core assumptions about the nature of meaning of one’s illness, can exert influence on health through behavioral, physiological, attentional, and motivational pathways. Our lab has developed and validated scales to measure illness mindsets and conducted a randomized controlled trial of a digital mindset intervention that produces significant and sustained improvements in the physical, social, and emotional functioning of recently-diagnosed cancer patients. Currently, we are conducting a large-scale replication of this study.
A second line of research examines how adaptive mindsets can help bolster health and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting in March 2020, we conducted a series of longitudinal surveys assessing people’s mindsets about stress, their bodies’ susceptibility to disease, and the COVID-19 pandemic, among other topics, along with a range of affective, behavioral, cognitive, and health outcome measures. These studies revealed that viewing the pandemic as an opportunity, instead of or in addition to a catastrophe, was a particularly adaptive mindset and was associated with improved affect and well-being. On the basis of this finding, we are developing and testing interventions designed to promote growth and resilience in the wake of the pandemic by instilling this pandemic-as-opportunity mindset. As part of this project, we are collecting and analyzing physiological biomarkers of inflammation in the form of blood samples, in addition to behavioral measures.
As an integral part of the Mind & Body Lab, the Fellow will support ongoing experiments and studies, including those described above, design and carry out new experimental studies in collaboration with the project team, conduct quantitative data analysis, write and disseminate results, and present results to our partners. This position requires experience with experimental study design, along with mixed-effects modeling. Candidates with expertise in health psychology, intervention design, biostatistics and/or psychoneuroimmunology are preferred.