Postdoctoral Research Associate - Tenders Global

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Durham University

tendersglobal.net


Postdoctoral Research Associate (
Job Number:
 23002036)
Department of Psychology
Grade 7:  £37,099 – £41,732 per annum
Fixed Term  Full Time
Contract Duration: 18 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Working Arrangements: TBC
Closing Date
: 05-Jan-2024, 6:59:00 PM
Disclosure and Barring Service Requirement: Please note that the successful applicant will require DBS disclosure. Further info: https://bit.ly/3DP5K8y 

Working at Durham University  

A globally outstanding centre of teaching and research excellence, a warm and friendly place to work, a unique and historic setting – Durham is a university like no other.

As one of the UK’s leading universities, Durham is an incredible place to define your career. The University is located within a beautiful historic city, home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and surrounded by stunning countryside. Our talented scholars and researchers from around the world are tackling global issues and making a difference to people’s lives.  

We believe that inspiring our people to do outstanding things at Durham enables Durham people to do outstanding things in the world. Being a part of Durham is about more than just the success of the University, it’s also about contributing to the success of the city, county and community.

Our University Strategy is built on three pillars of research, education and wider student experience, but also on our keen sense of community and of inspiring others to achieve their potential. 

Our Purpose and Values

We want our University to be a place where people can be free to be themselves, no matter what their identity or background. Together, we celebrate difference, value one another and are each responsible for creating an inclusive community that is respectful and fair for all.

Find out more about the benefits of working at the University and what it is like to live and work in the Durham area on our Why Durham? information page.   

The Department

Founded in 1952, the Department of Psychology is consistently ranked as one of the very best in the UK with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students. We are currently ranked 6th in the Complete University Guide, 4th in the Guardian University League Table, and in the top 100 of Psychology Departments world-wide according to the QS World Rankings.

The Department’s research falls within three groupings: Cognitive Neuroscience, Developmental Science, and Quantitative Social Psychology. The Department is committed to creating and maintaining a research and teaching environment that spans the entire breadth of Psychology.

The Department is well equipped for research in most areas including facilities for fMRI, TMS, EEG, eye tracking, as well as the analysis of visuomotor action and psychophysical performance. The Department also has a motion capture lab, an echo-attenuated chamber and a suite of observation labs.

In 2022, the Department received its third Athena SWAN Silver Award recognising our commitment to advancing women’s careers in STEM academia and reflecting the supportive and positive environment within the Department.

The Role

An 18-month fixed-term full time Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) position is available at the Department of Psychology at Durham University. The successful candidate will join the research project NewSense led by Prof Marko Nardini and funded by the European Research Council. The project is studying people’s abilities to learn to use new sensory signals to augment their perceptual and motor skills. 

Overview of the whole project: Advances in wearable displays and networked devices lead to the exciting possibility that humans can transcend the senses they were born with and learn to ‘see’ the world in radically new ways. Genuinely incorporating new signals in our sensory repertoire would transform our everyday experience, from social encounters to surgery, as well as having crucial applications to people with sensory loss. However, current additions to sensory streams such as navigating with GPS are far from being incorporated into our natural perception: we interpret them effortfully, like words from a foreign menu, rather than feeling them directly. This project will use a ground-breaking new approach to test how new sensory signals can be incorporated into the fundamental human experience. We will train participants using new immersive virtual-reality paradigms1 , which give us unprecedented speed, control and flexibility. We will test what is learned by comparing different mathematical model predictions with perceptual performance1–4 . This model-based approach uniquely shows when new signals are integrated into standard sensory processing. We will compare neuroimaging data with model predictions5 to detect integration of newly-learned signals within brain circuits processing familiar signals. We will test predictions that short-term changes to normal visual input can improve adult plasticity6 , and measure age-changes in plasticity by testing 8- to 12-year-old children. In a wide-ranging design allowing for domain-general conclusions, we will work across modalities (visual, auditory, tactile) and across two fundamental perceptual problems: judging spatial layout (‘where’ objects are)1 and material properties (‘what’ they are made of). The work will provide fundamental insights into computational and brain mechanisms underlying sensory learning, and a platform for transcending the limits of human perception.

The project team and the role of this post-doc: The PDRA will work as part of a team including a Research Assistant, a PhD student, and a second PDRA, together with the PI and collaborators with expertise in neuroimaging and TMS, low vision and multisensory plasticity, and computational modelling (Dr Tessa Dekker, UCL; Dr Lore Thaler, Dr Bob Kentridge, Dr Ulrik Beierholm, Durham). Depending on previous skills and experience, there is scope for the PDRA to develop their own area of focus and, where needed, to gain training in additional techniques. As part of a 5-year €2m project, the PDRA will have access to outstanding resources including equipment, scanning time, and travel for conferences and collaboration.

The successful candidate will have a strong academic track-record, including experience in designing, carrying out, analysing and interpreting high quality quantitative research on human perception. Experience with any of the following topics and approaches will be a strong advantage: 

  • model-based analyses of behavioural or neuroimaging data
  • multisensory perception, visual depth perception, material perception
  • fMRI (including MVPA), TMS
  • kinematic / force measures, perception and action
  • perceptual learning, training and follow-up protocols

Key responsibilities:

  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To assist with the development of research objectives and proposals.
  • To conduct research studies under the direction of the Principal Investigator. 
  • To work with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To liaise with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • To be involved in supervision of students and Research Assistants.
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial and respectful working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To engage in wider citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
  • To engage in continuing professional development by participation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses.   

This post is fixed term for 18 months. This is set by the level of funding provided for this post by the sponsor, the European Research Council.

The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by March 2024.

Working at Durham 

A competitive salary is only one part of the many fantastic benefits you will receive if you join the University: you will also receive access to the following fantastic benefits:

  • 30 Days annual leave per year in addition to 8 public holidays and 4 customary days per year – a total of 42 days per year.  
  • The University closes between Christmas and New Year.
  • We offer a generous pension scheme, As a new member of staff you will be automatically enrolled  into the University Superannuation Scheme (USS).
  • No matter how you travel to work, we have you covered.  We have parking across campus, a cycle to work scheme which helps you to buy a bike and discount with local bus and train companies.
  • There is a genuine commitment to developing our colleagues professionally and personally.  There is a comprehensive range of development courses, apprenticeships and access to qualifications and routes to develop your career in the University.  All staff have dedicated annual time to concentrate on their personal development opportunities.
  • Lots of support for health and wellbeing including discounted membership for our state of the art sport and gym facilities and access to a 24-7 Employee Assistance Programme.
  • On site nursery is available and children’s clubs in the summer holidays.
  • Family friendly policies, including maternity and adoption leave, which are among the most generous in the higher education sector (and likely above and beyond many employers).
  • The opportunity to take part in staff volunteering activities to make a difference in the local community
  • Discounts are available via our benefits portal including; money off at supermarkets, high street retailers, IT products such as Apple, the cinema and days out at various attractions.
  • A salary sacrifice scheme is also available to help you take advantage of tax savings on benefits.
  • If you are moving to Durham, we can help with removal costs and we have a dedicated team who can help you with the practicalities such as house hunting and schools.  If you need a visa, we cover most visa costs and offer an interest free loan scheme to pay for dependant visas.

Durham University is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion

Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are a key component of the University’s Strategy and a central part of everything we do.  We also live by our Purpose and Values  and our Staff Code of Conduct.   At Durham we actively work towards providing an environment where our staff and students can study, work and live in a community which is supportive and inclusive. It’s important to us that all colleagues undertake activities that are aligned to both our values and commitment to EDI. 

We welcome and encourage applications from those who are currently under-represented in our work force, including people with disabilities and from racially minoritised ethnic groups.

If you have taken a career break or periods of leave that may have impacted on the volume and recency of your research outputs and other activities, such as maternity, adoption or parental leave, you may wish to disclose this in your application. The selection committee will take this into account when evaluating your application.

The University has been awarded the Disability Confident Employer status. If you are a candidate with a disability, we are committed to ensuring fair treatment throughout the recruitment process. We will make adjustments to support the interview process wherever it is reasonable to do so and, where successful, reasonable adjustments will be made to support people within their role. 

Contact Information 

Department contact for academic-related enquiries 

For informal enquiries please contact [email protected] .  All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence. 

Contact information for technical difficulties when submitting your application 

If you encounter technical difficulties when using the online application form, we prefer you send enquiries by email.  Please send your name along with a brief description of the problem you’re experiencing to [email protected]  

Alternatively, you may call 0191 334 6801 from the UK, or +44 191 334 6801 from outside the UK. This number operates during the hours of 09.00 and 17.00 Monday to Friday, UK time.  We will normally respond within one working day (Monday to Friday, excluding UK public holidays).  

University contact for general queries about the recruitment process 

If you have any queries about the recruitment process please contact the recruitment team on [email protected].

How to Apply  

To progress to the assessment stage, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification below. It will be at the discretion of the recruiting panel as to whether they will also consider any desirable criteria, but we would urge candidates to provide evidence for all criteria.  

While some criteria will be considered at the shortlisting stage, other criteria may be considered later in the assessment process, such as questions at interview.  

Submitting your application 

We prefer to receive applications online.   We will update you about your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system. Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to make sure you have not missed any of our updates.

What to Submit 

All applicants are asked to submit: 

  • a CV and cover letter which details your experience, skills, and achievements in meeting (or the potential to meet) the criteria set out below.
  • Please include copies of any relevant journal publications you would like to highlight that cannot be found online (e.g. submitted/under revision/accepted).

Next Steps 

The assessment for shortlisted candidates will be an interview, including a short presentation on candidates’ previous research. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment on a date tbc, likely in January 2024.

In the event that you are unable to attend in person on the date offered, it may not be possible to offer you an interview on an alternative date. 

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement https://www.durham.ac.uk/about-us/governance/information-governance/privacy-notices/privacy-notices/job-applicants/ which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.   

When appointing to this role the University must ensure that it meets any applicable immigration requirements, including salary thresholds which are applicable to some visas.


Person Specification

Essential Criteria:

Qualifications

1. A good first degree in a scientific discipline.

2. A PhD (or be close to submission) in Experimental Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, or a related discipline.

Experience

3. Experience in designing, carrying out, analysing, and interpreting high quality quantitative research on human perception.

4. Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly-ranked journals.

Skills

5. Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.

6. Demonstrable ability to program psychophysical stimuli, tasks and analyses independently. 

7. Ability to plan and manage independent research.

8. Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

Desirable Criteria

Experience

9. An outstanding academic track-record as evidenced e.g. by high grades, prizes, strong record of publication in peer-reviewed journals and presentation at international conferences, commensurate with stage of career.

10. Track record of high-quality research with one or more of: model-based analyses of behavioural or neuroimaging data, multisensory perception, visual depth perception, material perception, fMRI / MVPA, TMS, kinematic / force measures, perception and action, perceptual learning, training and follow-up protocols. 

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