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.
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 also apply to the Psychology 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. Successfully completing my course on computational modeling (SNU course number: 207.547) is highly desirable. Applications for Fall 2020 (starting September 1st, 2020) and Spring 2021 (starting March 2nd, 2021) admissions will be accepted by mid April 2020 and October 2020, respectively (click here for Spring 2018 admission as an example). Usually there are more openings for admissions for Spring semesters.
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. Graduate students who are accepted into the CCS Lab are well funded and provided with financial support in the form of research and teaching assitantships. Feel free to email Dr. Ahn (firstname.lastname@example.org) or a lab member if you have any questions about the lab and its resources/support.
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. I might accept students who want to get a terminal master’s degree but I recommend they rather apply for a full-time RA position. Students pursuing a terminal master’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 (email@example.com) 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
Dr. Ahn’s interview with the SNU Arori Magazine (in Korean)
Dr. Ahn’s interview with BRIC (in Korean)
The CCS Lab is seeking one or two Postdoctoral Associates in decision neuroscience or computational psychiatry with expertise in functional neuroimaging or computational modeling. The projects are funded by multiple grants from the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea and Seoul National University.
The Postdoctoral Associate will be required to analyze existing longitudinal neuroimaging or multi-modal datasets, lead research projects, and mentor graduate students. The Postdoctoral Associate will also have the opportunity to pursue his or her own projects and receive training in cutting-edge computational modeling and/or neuroimaging techniques. The postdoctoral position is for one year initially, with 1-2 additional years contingent on satisfactory performance. The position is available immediately.
• A PhD in cognitive neuroscience, psychology, engineering, experimental economics, or a related field.
• Strong programming skills (e.g., R, Python, or MATLAB).
• Demonstration of potential for excellence in research (e.g., publishing or submitting journal papers).
• Excellent communication and team-building skills. Note that English is the official language for all written communication in the CCS Lab.
• Experience in designing and analyzing fMRI experiments is highly desired.
• A strong background in computational modeling or machine learning is highly desired but not required.
• If interested in computational psychiatric research, previous experience or strong interest in clinical research is desired but not required.
About the CCS Lab
The CCS Lab is located at Seoul National University (SNU) in Seoul, Korea. The team currently consists of two full-time research assistants who provide administrative support, nine graduate students (including incoming graduate students), and undergraduate research assistants. Facilities include latest iMac computers, MacBook Pros, two high-performance computing Linux servers for parallel neuroimaging/modeling analyses, a 3T Siemens research-dedicated fMRI facility located within walking-distance of the lab, a transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) device, functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) devices, a current stimulator (DS8R), an eye-tracking system, software for facial expression analysis, and other computing resources.
We offer internationally competitive training and research opportunities. We build computational models of human cognition with state-of-the-art Bayesian algorithms and actively maintain the hBayesDM package in both R and Python. We also apply various machine learning algorithms including supervised learning and adaptive design optimization to behavioral and neuroimaging data. The Postdoctoral Associate will enjoy the opportunity to acquire such skills based on his/her interests. We also provide various opportunities for active domestic and international collaborations including short visits to international collaborators’ labs. The CCS Lab is a member of the SNU Center for Artificial Intelligence (SCAI) and we actively collaborate with AI researchers at SNU.
Salary will be commensurate with qualifications and experience, which will be highly competitive. The qualified applicant may be considered for a Research Professor position.
How to apply:
To apply, please email a statement of interest, CV, representative re- or pre-prints, and a list of (at least two) references. Consideration of applications will begin immediately and will end when the positions are filled. Questions and applications should be directed to Dr. Woo-Young (Young) Ahn at firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com.
Full-time research assistant (including lab manager positions)
A lab manager coordinates various aspects of research projects in the CCS Lab. The lab manager will gain invaluable experience in various aspects of the research process while working closely with the PI, graduate students, and other lab members. Thus, the position is ideal for someone with the goal of pursuing graduate training in psychology or neuroscience. Responsibilities include scheduling and screening/interviewing human volunteers for participation in experiments, conducting behavioral and/or neuroimaging experiments, organizing and maintaining research-related paper works, setting up and operating laboratory equipment, maintaining laboratory inventory, and/or purchasing laboratory equipments. He/she will also analyze or assist in analyzing data, and get involved in the preparation of papers for publication.
- A bachelor’s degree in psychology, neuroscience, computer science, or other related field
- Excellent organizational and interpersonal skills
- Good attention to details, be able to multi-task, and work well in teams
- Strong interest in acquiring research skills and obtaining additional experience in clinical/cognitive neuroscience research
- Prior experience in clinical populations or research participants
- Quantitative skills or computer programming skills highly desired
- A two-year (at least one-year) time commitment is requested
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.
A minimum of 3.6 overall GPA: Please feel free to apply with a lower GPA if  your GPA substantially improved over time,  you can explain why yours doesn’t meet this cutoff, or  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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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).
High School Interns
In 2018, the CCS Lab participated in the Seoul Science High School Research & Education (R&E) program, where “students visit laboratories in major universities and research institutions on a regular basis, to take part in the ongoing research projects and collaborate with professors and graduate students”. Given the nature of our work, we only recruit talented high school interns who already have established coding (programming) skills and strong math background.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to Dr. Ahn
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. You may also want to read my interview (in Korean) with the SNU Arori magazine.