The lexicon lab is always open to hearing from folks who want to work in the lab! On this page, you will find information about open positions, how to reach out about joining the lab, the pathways through which you (as a student) can get involved, what you will learn and contribute to the lab, and our core values as a lab.
To know more about our work and current projects, please head over to our research or publications page.
Postdoctoral Research Associate : We are currently hiring a full-time two-year postdoctoral researcher to join the lab as part of a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded grant.
The postdoctoral scholar will collaboratively work with colleagues from Indiana University. The project, Modeling Search within the Mental Lexicon
(NSF #2235362) will investigate the cognitive mechanisms underlying memory search and retrieval, by developing a
unified computational framework based on a large gamified behavioral study and novel approaches to model search
via random walks and optimal foraging, as well as capture idiosyncratic and lexical sources of variance.
Interested applicants should apply for the position through the Bowdoin website.
Position starts as soon as September 2023. Please review our values and current research projects before applying.
Student Research Positions: We are currently considering:
3-4 students for Summer 2024 (grant-funded) to work on projects related to understanding memory search
Student positions in the lab fill up quickly, so please reach out a semester before you would like to join the lab (see details below).
For example, if you would like to join the lab in the spring/summer of 2024, please reach out in the fall semester.
students: I'm interested! how do I reach out?
We are especially interested in students who have programming experience (web development, game development, and machine learning), statistical skills (knowledge of R/Python), prior research experience (in psychology, mathematics, neuroscience, or digital/computer science), and a strong desire to learn!
If you are interested in working in the lab, please read the information below carefully and then email the PI, Abhilasha Kumar, with:
A brief description (1 page) or CV highlighting your relevant coursework, skills, and research experiences
Evidence of past research/coding experience (a paper you wrote / analysis you conducted / code you wrote)
A short summary (250 words) of any one paper from our publications page, with your key takeaways from the paper
students: how can you get involved?
There are four main ways to participate in research in the lexicon lab:
Independent study (one semester, during the academic year): Students typically sign up for an advanced independent/collaborative study, which involves leading an active research project in the lab. Students are awarded course credit and are expected to work on research 8-10 hours per week. While students are *not* expected to come up with entirely original ideas, they are expected to make meaningful contributions to ongoing projects by designing new studies, analyzing data, writing paper(s), and/or coding. Students who have taken either PSYC 2740 (Lab in Cognitive Science) or have prior experience doing research and/or coding are typically in a better position to contribute to the lab, and are therefore given more preference.
Research assistant (one semester, during the academic year): Research assistants are sometimes hired to work during the semester for focused tasks/needs. For example, you may be hired to program a web application or design a website. These projects are need-based and only available when funding these positions is possible via some mechanism.
Summer research(8-10 weeks): To work in the lab during the summer, students are typically asked to demonstrate previous research experience (within the lab or in another lab). Summer students are supported either through lab grant funding, or summer research funding through the College. Summer projects typically take the form of finishing up existing research projects (i.e., writing a paper), designing more intensive experiments, or conducting data analysis and/or modeling work. Students are expected to work 40 hours per week for 8-10 weeks and stay on campus for the duration of the summer project. Given the dedicated time and resources that summer research requires, mainly students who have previously worked in the lab OR have prior research experience will be considered for these positions. Programming experience is preferred for these positions.
Honors project (two semesters, during the academic year): Senior majors in psychology can apply to do an honors project in their final year. Honors projects are a yearlong commitment, where students typically propose and design their own experiment, collect and analyze data, and write a thesis. Honors projects are typically related to the ongoing research in the lab, but attempt to advance the research in some way (instead of continuing an ongoing project). Students are expected to have some prior research and writing experience, as well as experience analyzing data and programming experiments (preferably in R/jsPsych/Python/PsychoPy).
Working in the lexicon lab can involve donning several hats - while students will typically take ownership of one or two projects, we believe in collaborative science. So, one day you might be expected to analyze data for your own study, while another day you could be asked to provide feedback to another student on their upcoming presentation.
In either case, the PI (Abhilasha) will be committed to your growth and success.
You can read Abhilasha's mentoring philosopy here, and find details about the types of students we are looking for, and the types of skills you can hope to gain from working in the lab below:
What are we looking for?
Our work involves studying the human mind using complex tools and methods.
Therefore, in addition to intellectual curiosity and a strong work ethic, we hope that students bring a certain set of skills and knowledge to their work in the lab:
Some knowledge of working with data and at least basic knowledge of statistical inference
Be open to learning how to design and program web-based experiments
Be organized and have strong communication skills
Be open to learning as you go, and committed to showing up to meetings, communicating clearly, and voicing concerns early and openly
If you are a computer science student with little or no background in psychology, you are expected to know how to code independently, maintain a clear and reproducible codebase, and show evidence of prior coding experience.
What will you learn?
Conducting scientific research goes hand-in-hand with learning new skills and information!
Working in the lexicon lab will expose you to a wide range of modern methods and techniques used in cognitive science.
Although the specific skills you acquire will vary based on your project and research interests, all members of the lab will be trained in a few core research skills:
You will learn the nitty gritty of experimental research methods, which includes conceptualizing a research question, developing materials, designing an experiment, and conducting studies with human participants
You will also learn how to examine, analyze, and describe data as well as make statistical inferences about human behavior. Given that our lab is committed to open science practices, you will learn statistical computing in R, and also learn how to maintain reproducibile workflows
You will also have the experience of working in a collaborative environment and learn how to communicate within teams
Finally, you will learn how to communicate scientific findings, by presenting your work at university-level symposia and events, as well as national and international conferences.
Our lab regularly attends Annual Meetings of the Cognitive Science Society and Psychonomic Society and students will be encouraged to submit and present their work at these conferences.
As a group, we are not only committed to the study of the human mind, but also to developing a community of honest, compassionate, and curious thinkers, who are guided by some shared values.
Kindness and camraderie
Teamwork is a cornerstone of impactful science and we believe that the best kind of teams are made of people who are kind to each other and enjoy each other's company.
Our goal is to create a culture where different perspectives are heard and valued, and everyone is committed to answering the questions we ask to the best of their abilities.
In our lab, project work often involves multiple lab members working together, refining research questions, brainstorming solutions, and providing feedback on research designs, posters, presentations, and scientific writing.
We check-in regularly with all members, through weekly meetings as well as informal chats and social events.
We also prioritize a healthy work-life balance and hope to develop a supportive community where we can openly discuss and navigate personal and professional challenges.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion
Our lab is committed to recruiting, supporting, and working with a diverse group of researchers and participants.
We understand and acknowledge that some communities and identities are underrepresented in cognitive science, and strive to do our best to make the field more diverse and equitable.
To that end, we not only actively recruit students and researchers from underrepresented groups, but also provide a supportive and safe environment for them to thrive and excel in.
We also dedicate lab meeting time to discuss and learn from each other about how to make science more equitable and diverse.
We believe that science should be open to everyone, and are very grateful and supportive of the open science movement!
To make our work freely available to anyone, we pre-register our experiments and post pre-prints via the Open Science Framework.