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Opportunities

Information for Prospective Graduate Students:

The psychology department’s web page contains information about application procedures, the structure of the graduate program, and other information for prospective applicants. Our department was established in 1888 and has a long, distinguished history. This site has fascinating information about the equipment used in the lab of our department founder, Joseph Jastrow. (His "exposure apparatus" looks like a repurposed guillotine!) The department ranks in the top 10 on the meretricious US News and World Report rankings. In the National Research Council rankings we tied for first with Harvard and Princeton. You can read about our strengths in the cognitive, developmental, social, clinical, perception, and biological/neuroscience areas on the department web page. We have a particularly strong core of people with interests in language (MacDonald, Seidenberg, Saffran, Alibali, Lupyan, Gernsbacher, and Rogers, plus additional close colleagues in other departments, such as Jan Edwards, Susan Ellis-Weismer, and Ruth Litovsky in Communicative Disorders), state-of-the-art neuroimaging facilities and a friendly, stimulating, challenging environment.

Memorial Union Terrace

Madison is a comfortable and pleasant place to live and work, especially if you like the "active outdoors" lifestyle. [The New York media are apparently mildly fixated on Madison. Here's what the University says about Madison.] The university is situated on Lake Mendota, one of a chain of several lakes (the adjoining Lake Monona is where the late great Otis Redding's plane went down many years ago). The Memorial Union Terrace (pictured) is where people go to watch the sun set and have a beer or some of the ice cream made on campus. Here's the Terrace Webcam, if you have Java enabled. Lots of other pretty pictures here. The whole terrace is wired for wireless (good oxymoron!), so you can stay connected too. Lake Mendota usually freezes; here is a picture of the insanely fast ice sailing activity that takes place.

People do a lot of bike riding; there are serious paths all over town and in the surrounding area. There's also sailing, canoeing, running, and a lot of winter sports. Somehow, a number of graduate students in our lab find time to train for marathons, triathlons, and ironman events. There are good restaurants (especially for a city this size), the largest outdoor farmer's market in the country, and some fine artisanal cheese to go along with local favorites like cheese curds (they squeak). Most of what you really want to know about where to eat, drink or hear music is listed in the weekly publication Isthmus, which has a good web page. Contact the students for more information about what life is like here. It may be "flyover" country to the people on the coasts, but for the people who live here, potential overdevelopment because of the number of people moving here is a more salient issue.

[A special note about the weather. People assume the weather in Madison is harsh because they've seen Green Bay Packer playoff games in late December on TV. The reality--in Madison--is that sometimes it's very cold and usually it isn't. (The weather is getting more variable with climate change.) We get as much snow as Boston and more sunshine than Pittsburgh. It's warmer in San Diego. The countryside has rolling hills; once you begin to adjust your eye to the beauty you can see why Frank Lloyd Wright located the original Taliesin studio complex nearby. When it snows, it's easier to deal with in a moderate-sized town where you don't have to drive. There's also less pollution and a high level of eco-, social, and political awareness. In short: people manage to live quite comfortably here and for many the climate and local ecology are part of the attraction. If you're mainly interested in close proximity to beaches or base jumping, you'd be out of luck, but you probably also wouldn't be going to graduate school.]

All graduate students work full-time toward their degrees; financial support is provided through one of the several research grants that fund our work, the neuroscience training grant, or university fellowships. Stipends are competitive with other programs and are intended to allow you to live reasonably and focus on progress toward your degree. You don't get rich on an NIH pre-doctoral stipend, but you don't go into debt, either. Additionally, in order to gain teaching experience, each student will typically have a teaching assistantship at some point in his or her graduate career. Students with strong interests in the neuroscience end of cognitive neuroscience should also consider the Neuroscience Training Program, which several psychology professors (including Seidenberg) are part of.

Olbrich Gardens picture

We will be recruiting new graduate students to enter the program next fall, as well as a post-doc. We are seeking individuals with the following kinds of interests:

  • spoken language production and its interface with comprehension;
  • verbal working memory and language comprehension;
  • computational and neurobiological bases of plasticity, critical period effects;
  • statistical learning mechanisms in language acquisition and use;
  • neuroimaging, computational modeling;
  • causes of poor reading achievement, "achievement gaps" in the US.

We invite the top applicants to campus for a visit in early spring; you spend 1-2 days (expenses paid) learning about the department, meeting faculty and students, and getting a sense of what the intellectual and cultural environments are like.

We have had many outstanding students in the Language and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at USC, and now at UW-Madison. Our students typically have backgrounds in psychology, computer science, linguistics, and/or neuroscience. Prospective students should feel free to contact Professor MacDonald, Professor Seidenberg, and/or current graduate students, for additional information about the program.

Information for Prospective Post-Docs:

We are seeking 1-2 post docs with interests in any of the various aspects of language that we study, but particularly the interface between language production and comprehension, the interface between language acquisition and skilled processing, and the interface between language behavior and its brain and computational bases. (That's a lot of potential interfacing. We could add "and the interfaces between any of the above"!) Contact MacDonald or Seidenberg for additional information.

Opportunities for UW Undergraduate Students:

Each year we recruit undergraduates who work as research assistants in the lab. Highly-motivated UW undergraduates with relevant background or skills are welcome to inquire. A commitment of at least two semesters is typically required. Some students (juniors, seniors) conduct research projects as part of the Hilldale Research Fellowships program. For more information, please contact Mark Seidenberg or Maryellen MacDonald.