Research Lab Technician II – (Los Angeles, California, United States)

The University of Southern California (USC), founded in 1880, is located in the heart of downtown L.A. and is the largest private employer in the City of Los Angeles. As an employee of USC, you will be a part of a world-class research university and a member of the “Trojan Family,” which is comprised of the faculty, students and staff that make the university a great place to work.  

As a community of Dornsife College “we are committed to the creation, preservation, and communication of fundamental knowledge in all its forms…as well as a lifelong passion for learning and a commitment to the betterment of society.”  The academic mission of Dornsife College can only be realized to its fullest potential when we build and protect a representative, equitable, inclusive culture of scholarship for students, faculty, and staff.  This is not done through initiatives but by embedding these values into the everyday interactions, relationships, policies, and practices of the College.  What is required is a seamless integration of the tenets of equity and inclusivity into every facet of academic life.  If we want our scholars, staff, and students to be able to give their very best, we must create an academic environment that portends success.  

Success is possible when every member of the Dornsife community owns their role as a steward of the culture in which we learn, research, and work; when we believe that it is because of who we are that we are able to do what we do: achieve excellence, together. 

Achieving a robust and inclusive academic culture requires more than just the completion of a task, but includes that person’s capacity to contribute positively to the relationships and culture of their office or department.  Therefore, any applicant seeking to advance the mission of Dornsife College should also be assessed on their capacities beyond the technical elements of their work, and demonstrate an understanding of their impact on others, and to articulate how they contribute positively to those around them.

The Cognition and Affect Regulation Lab, directed by Dr. Jonathan Stange in the Department of Psychology at the University of Southern California (USC), is seeking a full-time benefits-eligible lab coordinator position. This position will be funded by an NIH R01 and offers competitive salary and benefits.

Our lab seeks to identify cognitive and affective processes that are involved in the regulation of negative affect, in an effort to understand vulnerability factors for mood disorders and suicide.  This work involves laboratory-based measures of brain activity (using fMRI), autonomic nervous system functioning (electrocardiogram and respiration), and behavior (executive functioning tasks and questionnaires). In addition, to understand behavior outside of the lab in the real world, we utilize ambulatory assessment to measure fluctuations in autonomic functioning (with wearables), sleep quality (with actigraphy), affect and regulation strategies (using ecological momentary assessment), and digital phenotyping approaches to measuring behavior (using smartphone keyboard metadata).

This position is ideal for a recent graduate from a Psychology, Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, or other STEM program who is interested in gaining clinical research experience in mental health and/or neuroscience in preparation for graduate or medical school.

Duties and Responsibilities: 

  • Employing various tools and recruitment efforts to enroll and retain young adults with major depression, suicidal ideation, or healthy controls (e.g., social media, digital advertising, referral management, advocacy outreach)
  • Data management and participant tracking
  • Conducting diagnostic interviews to assess history of psychopathology
  • Interacting with participants and as they participate in the study protocols (using neuroimaging, psychophysiology, ambulatory, and behavioral methods)
  • Preprocessing psychophysiological and neuroimaging data
  • Assisting with other lab tasks (e.g., data entry, generating reports for data analysis)
  • Managing laboratory staff (e.g., undergraduate volunteers) and delegating duties efficiently

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in psychology, neuroscience, or related field required.
  • Previous experience working with human subjects and conducting independent research projects.
  • Excellent analytical skills, the ability to resolve technical or research problems (troubleshooting) and the ability to critically check data to prevent errors.
  • Knowledge and adherence of clinical research methods and design, and research protocols.
  • Extremely careful attention to detail (required for data entry and processing of neuroimaging, psychophysiology, ambulatory, and behavioral data).
  • Excellent planning, organization, and prioritization skills, with the ability to independently monitor and complete a variety of complex tasks.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and excellent communication, organization, presentation and computer skills.
  • Ability to work effectively as part of a team (e.g., share duties with other research assistants when recruiting and running study participants; complete components of data analysis, slide presentations and manuscript preparations with the PI; supervise undergraduate research assistants).
  • Ability to complete work both remotely (e.g., computer and internet access at home) and in-person, as may be required based on pandemic guidelines.
  • Previous experience working with human subjects and conducting independent research projects.

Additional Desirable Qualifications: 

  • Proficiency with database management (e.g., merging multiple data sets from various sources) across software platforms (e.g., R, Matlab, Mplus, SPSS, Excel).
  • Programming experience, ideally in Python, or ability to quickly learn this language.
  • Experience with processing fMRI and/or physiological data (e.g., Matlab, SPM, AFNI, FSL, Freesurfer, Biopac); experience running neuroimaging scanning sessions.

Hourly range: The hourly rate range for this position is $23.56 – $24.50. When extending an offer of employment, the University of Southern California considers factors such as (but not limited to) the scope and responsibilities of the position, the candidate’s work experience, education/training, key skills, internal peer equity, federal, state and local laws, contractual stipulations, grant funding, as well as external market and organizational considerations.

Required Documents and Additional Information:

  • Resume and cover letter required (may be uploaded as one file).
  • Job openings are posted for a minimum of (5) five business days. This job may be removed from posting boards and filled any time after the minimum posting period has ended, so please apply on the same business day if interested.
  • USC has excellent benefits, including health benefits for staff and their family with access to the renowned university medical network; eligibility for retirement plans with employer contributions after six months of employment; tuition benefits for staff and their family; free Professional Development classes; central Los Angeles location with easy access to commuter trains, buses and free tram pick up services; discounts to sporting and other campus events.

Performs other related duties as assigned or requested. The university reserves the right to add or change duties at any time.

The University of Southern California is an Equal Opportunity Employer that Values Diversity.

Minimum Education: Associate’s degree, Specialized/technical training, Combined experience/education as substitute for minimum education
Minimum Experience: 2 years
Minimum Field of Expertise: Working knowledge of laboratory equipment and research protocols. Knowledge of computer analysis techniques and ability to provide routine analysis and interpretation of research data.

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