Join us!

Interested in joining the Computational Clinical Science Lab?

The missions of the CCS Lab are to (1) elucidate the neurocognitive mechanisms of decision-making using computational approaches and (2) develop cost-effective markers of psychiatric disorders, especially addictive disorders, which can be readily translated into clinical practice. The CCL Lab offers a variety of resources for research and training opportunities for lab members on a wide and rare set of research skills, including neuroimaging, computational modeling, machine learning, Bayesian data analysis, and decision neuroscience. An emerging field called “computational psychiatry” is a high priority at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in the US and currently there is an increasingly large demand for people trained in both psychopathology and computational neuroscience.

Graduate students

I (Dr. Ahn) am always looking for highly motivated and ambitious (but willing to be great team players) graduate students to join the CCS Lab. Graduate students will enjoy the opportunities to work on several existing big datasets (neuroimaging, genetic, and behavioral data) as well as to design/run new studies. Students interested in clinical science (a.k.a. clinical psychology) should apply to the Psychology graduate program. Students interested in computational neuroscience or decision neuroscience (a.k.a., neuroeconomics) should apply to the Neuroscience graduate program. Given the nature of our work, good programming ability (in R, Python, and/or Matlab) or at least a strong motivation to quickly acquire the ability is required (see this link for some online resources). A strong background in mathematics or computational methods is a plus, especially for students interested in computational neuroscience. Experience with any clinical populations is a plus for students interested in the clinical science track. Graduate applications for Spring 2018 admission will be accepted by Oct 13 (Fri), 2017 (click here for more details).

I consider mentoring PhD students a high priority. If I believe you have a strong motivation, talents/perseverance, and if I can have the privilege of serving as your advisor, I will do my very best to help you grow, overcome instances of self-doubt despite rejections and failures during PhD, achieve your long-term career goals in an outstanding research environment, and eventually become scholars and leaders in our fields. Scientists should be professional writers and presenters, so lab members will receive various types of training to improve their writing and presentation skills.

I strongly prefer students interested in an academic career but succcessful graduates acquiring excellent programming skills and knowledge in statistical/computational methods should be very competitive for industry jobs as well. I also strongly prefer graduate students who will work in the CCS Lab ~5 years pursuing MA(or MS)/PhD. But I am open to accepting students who want to get a terminal master’s degree. Students pursuing a terminal mater’s degree will be asked to submit their work to a peer-reviewed journal before they graduate or apply for PhD programs elsewhere.

Prospective students are encouraged to contact Dr. Ahn ( with a curriculum vitae (CV), a brief statement of research interests, and (unofficial) transcript(s). Please indicate which track you are interested in. If possible, students are encouraged to work as RAs in the CCS Lab for at least 3-6 months prior to submitting the formal application for graduate study. Importantly, seriously ask yourself first why you are pursuing a PhD. Some useful links are included below and please check them carefully:

Why pursue (or not pursue) a Ph.D.
On being an advisor to today’s junior scientists
How to pick a graduate advisor
The stories behind a CV
The Genius Fallacy

Postdoctoral researchers

There are no openings at this time. However, feel free to contact Dr. Ahn ( with your CV if you are interested in joining the CCS Lab in the near future and would like to discuss funding opportunities.

Undergraduate students

Dr. Ahn is always looking for highly motivated undergraduate research assistants (RAs). Undergraduate students will have the opportunity to gain knowledge and research skills necessary for graduate school or a related future career. Undergraduate RAs will recruit participants, assist in data analysis, prepare study materials, and manage database. Advanced undergraduates may conduct independent research projects. Ideal for undergraduates who are strongly interested in going to a Ph.D. program in clinical science, computational/decision neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, or related fields. 

Skills Needed

A minimum of 3.6 overall GPA: Please feel free to apply with a lower GPA if [1] your GPA substantially improved over time, [2] you can explain why yours doesn’t meet this cutoff, or [3] you have desired skills described below. 

Required: Excellent attention to details. Strong motivation. Strong organizational and interpersonal skills. Experience with MS Office.

Desired: Experience with computer programming (e.g. R, Python, or Matlab) is a plus. Knowledge in basic statistics is highly desirable. Coursework in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, or related fields is a plus.

Approximate number of hours per week: 10 hrs/week.  

Approximate number of months: Minimum 2 semesters of commitment.

If interested, students should email Dr. Ahn ( with “CCS Lab research assistant” in the subject and attach a CV (with their GPA and a list of relevant courses that they have taken).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to Dr. Ahn

  • Why

    I seek to build a “happy” laboratory where lab members (including the PI) respect each other, feel they are growing intellectually, enjoy excellent support for research, and generate research outputs that will make them competitive for the next career steps.

    Building such an environment and a culture is a very challenging task especially because each person is from different backgrounds and has different expectations and norms. But I try to achieve it by (1) fostering communication within the lab, (2) recruiting people who are effective team players and share similar visions with each other, (3) individually tailoring training based on each member’s strengths and interests, and (4) securing enough research funds.

  • Why did you switch your career from engineering to clinical psychology (a.k.a. clinical science)?

    My relatively short answer is that my values changed around that time and I became interested in the human mind. Because the human brain is such a complex organ, I thought I would be able to better understand (at least some of) our complex thoughts and behaviors such as political/religious beliefs if I approach the human mind from multiple perspectives. Clinical psychology was an excellent choice for me - As a scientist with a PhD in clinical psychology, I can study the human mind and try to understand others by using not only scientifically rigorous approaches (e.g., neuroimaging, computational modeling, machine learning) but also clinical skills developed during MA/PhD training. Fortunately, my engineering background has been extremely helpful in various ways.