Data & Democracy Postdoctoral Scholars
The Data Science Institute (DSI), the Department of Computer Science, and the Center for Effective Government (CEG) at the University of Chicago invite applications for Postdoctoral Scholars who wish to advance cutting-edge interdisciplinary data-driven approaches, methods, and applications in research related to data, disinformation, digital media and the foundations of our modern democracy.
The Data & Democracy Initiative is a unique collaboration between computer scientists, statisticians and political scientists that conducts cross-disciplinary research, convenes key stakeholders, and circulates and amplifies the findings needed to protect democracy in the digital age. The initiative investigates critical questions concerning the impact of misinformation on effective government, how online communication translates into offline political behavior, and the implications of the consolidation of online media platforms for free speech.
The DSI executes the University of Chicago’s bold, innovative vision of data science as a new discipline by advancing interdisciplinary research, partnerships with industry, government, and social impact organizations, and a holistic approach to data science education. The CEG was founded in 2019 with an ambitious but vital mission: to strengthen democratic institutions and improve the capacity of government to solve public problems.
This program provides postdocs with the opportunity to pursue original research on significant questions applying data science with the Data and Democracy research initiative and its affiliated researchers. Our positions carry a competitive salary, generous research funding allowances, and benefits.
Equal Employment Opportunity Statement:
We seek a diverse pool of applicants who wish to join an academic community that places the highest value on rigorous inquiry and encourages diverse perspectives, experiences, groups of individuals, and ideas to inform and stimulate intellectual challenge, engagement, and exchange. The University’s Statements on Diversity are at https://provost.uchicago.edu/statements-diversity.
The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University’s Notice of Nondiscrimination.
Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-1032 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with their request.
For questions about this application, please contact: email@example.com.
- The application period for the Data and Democracy Postdoctoral Scholars program opens September 9th; reviews will begin on November 4th and continue until positions are filled
- Earliest start date: August 1, 2023
If you have any questions about your eligibility, please feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Completion of all requirements for a Ph.D. required at the time of appointment.
- Applicants may only submit one application.
- We welcome applications from researchers who are using data science to advance the state of the art in their respective field (e.g., humanities, social sciences, natural and physical sciences).
- Postdoctoral scholars will be expected to be active participants in the Data Science Institute (DSI) at UChicago and the Center for Effective Government, and may be requested to take on leadership roles in one or more of the DSI/CEG initiatives.
- Curriculum vitae;
- Summary of the candidate’s current research (250 words);
- Research statement that outlines research goals and significance, research plan, and motivation for seeking a postdoctoral appointment at UChicago (maximum of 3 pages, not including references);
- 1-2 representative publications or manuscripts;
- Names and contact information for at least two and up to five references (the application is complete only when two letters of reference have been submitted, so please contact referees early in the application process). Referees will be provided with a link to the submission portal;
- Names of potential UChicago faculty mentors;
- (Optional) Applicants may include a letter of collaboration from a UChicago faculty mentor who has agreed to mentor the applicant if the scholar is accepted into the program. Please use the following template for the letter:
- “If Dr. [insert full name of applicant] is accepted as a Data Science Institute Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Chicago, it is my intent to act as a mentor on a project of mutual interest.”
The Data Science Institute team will also be available to help identify potential faculty mentors if you move forward in the application process.
Proposals will be reviewed by the DSI Data and Democracy Postdoctoral Committee using the following factors:
- Research Potential: Overall potential for research excellence, as demonstrated by the applicant’s research statement, goals and long-term career goals.
- Academic Progress: Academic progress to date, as evidenced by publications and endorsements from their faculty advisor or recommender.
- Data Science Background: Experience or coursework in computer science, statistics, data science, AI, or a related field.
- Impact: Approaches, methods, systems, measurement studies, or theory that advances foundational approaches in data science, develops solutions to real-world problems in industry or civil society, or both.
- Research Alignment: Relevance of research plan to DSI’s research initiatives and projects.
For questions about this application, please contact email@example.com.
Program Structure & Benefits
What you’ll do:
- Independent Research: Scholars will have the freedom to pursue their own research interests with a majority of their time spent working on scholar-driven research projects and no teaching responsibilities.
- Joint Research with Mentor: Scholars will help lead and execute collaborative work on cutting-edge research projects with mentors in their academic field and area of interest.
- Professional Development: Scholars will gain training and experience with: required mentoring and outreach through our Summer Lab and Clinic programs (required three quarters annually); communicating your research to a broad audience; engaging with the media and external stakeholders; and applying for and securing funding.
Mentors will provide ongoing research and career guidance through regular meetings, as well as opportunities to promote the scholar’s accomplishments in public forums. Scholars have the option to receive mentorship from a single faculty member or joint mentorship from a data science researcher and a domain expert.
Scholars will have privileged, unique access to large-scale datasets from a variety of sectors.
The program will host activities where scholars can connect with members of their cohort, share knowledge, and gain insight through guest lectures, industry speakers, and other activities. Scholars will have autonomy and resources to select, host, and invite speakers, with support from DSI administrative staff.
Outreach and Impact
Scholars will have considerable opportunities to establish new relationships and translate their research into real-world impact by leveraging our network of academic, civic, government, and industry connections.
Experience gained during the program will help scholars prepare for diverse career paths from tenure-track academic positions to leadership opportunities within innovative companies.
As part of the Data & Democracy Postdoctoral Scholars program, postdocs will have the opportunity to work on collaborative projects in cutting-edge research areas. Learn more about potential faculty mentors below.
If you are interested in working with a particular mentor (listed below or elsewhere at UChicago), please indicate the area(s) and mentor name within your application. Please note that the list of example mentors and projects below is not exhaustive.
Nick FeamsterFaculty Director of Research, Data Science Institute; Neubauer Professor of Computer Science and The College
William HowellSydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, Professor in the Department of Political Science and the College, and Director of the Center for Effective Government
Molly Offer-WestortAssistant Professor, Department of Political Science
Andrew EggersProfessor, Department of Political Science
Chenhao TanAssistant Professor of Computer Science and Data Science
Marshini ChettyAssistant Professor, Computer Science
Yuan Chang LeongAssistant Professor, Department of Psychology
Nick Feamster is Neubauer Professor in the Department of Computer Science and the College and the Faculty Director of Research for the Data Science Institute. He researches computer networking and networked systems, with a particular interest in Internet censorship, privacy, and the Internet of Things. His work on experimental networked systems and security aims to make networks easier to manage, more secure, and more available.
William Howell is the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, a professor in the Department of Political Science and the College, and the director of the Center for Effective Government. He has written widely on separation-of-powers issues and American political institutions, especially the presidency. He currently is working on research projects on Obama’s education initiatives, distributive politics, and the normative foundations of executive power.
I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at The University of Chicago.
I work on quantitative methodology for social science research, with a focus on causal inference, machine learning, and experimental design–particularly for adaptive experiments. My PhD is from Yale, joint in Political Science and Statistics & Data Science.
In addition to the PhD, I hold a Masters in Statistics, also from Yale, and a Masters in Public Affairs, from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. My undergraduate degree was in cultural anthropology from Grinnell College; after college, I spent a year in Lesotho, teaching high school students, and two years in Madagascar, as a Peace Corps volunteer.
Andy Eggers is a political scientist whose research focuses on electoral systems, corruption/accountability, the relationship between money and politics, and political development in the U.S., Britain, and France. He also has an interest in research methodology.
From 2014-2020, he was a Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford, a Professorial Fellow of Nuffield College, and Director of the Oxford QStep Centre. From 2011 to 2014 he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics.
Chenhao Tan is an assistant professor at the Department of Computer Science and the UChicago Data Science Institute. His main research interests include language and social dynamics, human-centered machine learning, and multi-community engagement. He is also broadly interested in computational social science, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence.
Marshini Chetty is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago, where she co-directs the Amyoli Internet Research Lab or AIR lab. She specializes in human-computer interaction, usable privacy and security, and ubiquitous computing. Marshini designs, implements, and evaluates technologies to help users manage different aspects of Internet use from privacy and security to performance, and costs. She often works in resource-constrained settings and uses her work to help inform Internet policy. She has a Ph.D. in Human-Centered Computing from Georgia Institute of Technology, USA and a Masters and Bachelors in Computer Science from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. In her former lives, Marshini was on the faculty in the Computer Science Department at Princeton University and the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her work has won best paper awards at SOUPS, CHI, and CSCW and has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Security Agency, Intel, Microsoft, Facebook, and multiple Google Faculty Research Awards.
My research examines the different ways in which goals, desires and needs affect how people perceive and respond to our environment. My work draws from the traditions of cognitive neuroscience, social psychology and affective science. I use a broad range of methodological tools, including behavioral experiments, computational modeling, fMRI, pupillometry, naturalistic paradigms and network analyses. By combining different tools and perspectives, I seek to characterize motivational influences on human cognition at the psychological, computational and neural levels. One ultimate goal of this work is to identify behavioral and neural targets of intervention to improve socio-cognitive functioning.
I direct the Motivation and Cognition Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Chicago.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the application due?
We will begin application review on November 4, 2022 and will continue accepting and reviewing applications until all available positions are filled.
Where can we find potential mentors?
Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and you are welcome to search for potential mentors elsewhere within the UChicago data science community.
On the application, you will be asked to list any UChicago mentors who you are interested in working with.
Is the letter of collaboration from UChicago faculty required? Is there a template?
You are not required to submit a letter of collaboration from a UChicago faculty member, however you are welcome to if you would like. The purpose of a letter of collaboration is for a UChicago faculty member to indicate that they would be willing to work with you should you be admitted to the program. A brief template for the letter is provided on the InfoReady application.
Are international applicants eligible to apply?
Yes, international applicants are eligible to apply.
How much time is split between independent research, joint work with mentors, and outreach?
The exact percentages of time depend on each postdoctoral fellow’s research agenda, however the bulk of time is reserved for independent research.
Does the 3 page limit for the research statement include references?
The research statement should be maximum 3 pages, not including references.
- When is the application due?
- Frequently Asked Questions