Professional Specialist – NIMH Conte Center for Understanding Latent Cause Inference in Health and Illness

We are looking for a Professional Specialist to function as a research scientist program manager for a new and exciting NIMH Conte Center focusing on computation modeling, behavioral assessment, fMRI neuroimaging, and animal studies of the role of latent cause inference in mental health. The Center is joint between Princeton and Rutgers Universities and involves 10 faculty, 5 in each institution. The Professional Specialist will be the Center Manager and will work in close collaboration with the Program Director (Prof. Yael Niv, Princeton University) in coordinating and overseeing Center activities, ensuring a productive collaborative environment, and disseminating findings and information to the research community and to the public. There is a possibility for this  position to be  transitioned to Academic Research Manager in the future.

This is not an administrative position – we are looking for a scientist who is/will become a topic expert in the substance of the Center’s research and will be able to help chart the path of the Center now and in future renewals. The Center Manager position is envisioned as a long-term position that also involves recruiting personnel for the project, mentoring students and postdocs, and writing grants. Primary responsibilities will be leading academic research projects, research project/team management, developing methodology, analyzing data, and communicating academic/scientific research findings within the Center and the Niv Lab. We are specifically interested in recruiting someone with expertise in programming, computational modeling, or data analytics, as the Center Manager will also provide technical support for some of the Center’s experiment-conducting software.  

We are seeking a talented, enthusiastic, dedicated, and dynamic individual to support the Program Director and the Center PIs in coordinating and monitoring the Center. You will have the opportunity to contribute to the development and execution of a new program focused on a fundamental cognitive process – latent cause inference – and its relationship to mental health. You will coordinate and potentially collaborate on cutting edge research focused on understanding and better treating anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia.

This is an ideal position for a trained scientist or engineer looking for an academic career that involves research management but does not consist of being an independent PI.

Main responsibilities:

  • Planning, coordinating and leading Center activities such as PI meetings, advisory board meetings, conferences and workshops related to the Center.
  • Developing, maintaining and improving custom-built online experiment-delivery platform.
  • Programmatic tracking in relation to the proposed goals and activities of the Center and reporting to NIMH.
  • Maintaining the Center website and coordinating dissemination activities.
  • Collaborating on research activities within the Center as time permits and based on personal interest in particular components of the Center.
  • Co-running Project Director Niv’s research laboratory, including participating in recruitment and hiring decisions, mentoring of personnel involved in the Conte Center, grant writing, and making decisions about the lab’s research directions.

Required qualifications:

  • PhD in psychology, neuroscience, computer science or a related field, with at least 3 years post-doctoral experience.
  • A track record of research outputs including, but not limited to papers written, grants/fellowship applications written etc.
  • A track record of mentoring trainees such as undergraduate or graduate research assistants.

Preferred qualifications:

  • Experience in conducting computational modeling research.
  • Experience with running online behavioral experiments on human subjects.
  • Experience with mental-health related research.
  • Experience in managing successful projects, particularly in an academic, industrial,  or philanthropic setting in the life sciences, engineering, or global health space.
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills, with the ability to quickly synthesize information on a variety of subjects.
  • Demonstrable experience of time and priority management.
  • High attention to details.
  • Numerate with an ability to effectively monitor and track budgets.
  • Highly developed written and verbal communication skills (English).

Personal specification:

  • Articulate, dynamic, well-organized and goal-focused creative thinker.
  • Thrives in multi-investigator collaborations, a “people person.”
  • Proactive and self-starter, able to work equally well on own initiative or collaboratively as part of a team.
  • Reliable and diligent: must be able to manage and complete numerous time sensitive tasks reliably.

Location: Work will be in person at Princeton University, with some travel to Rutgers Piscataway Campus (40 minutes away), and a possibility to work from home one day per week. Ideal start date: summer 2024.  The initial appointment is for one year, with the possibility of renewal.

Applications must include a cover letter, your current CV, and contact information for three references. Feel free to email the materials directly to