Research Opportunities @ Northwestern University

The Developmental Mechanisms (DevMech) Program is looking to hire three positions (Developmental Sciences Manager, Research Operations Manager, and Infant/Toddler MRI Technologist/Coordinator) to work across multiple studies directed by developmental/clinical psychologist, Laurie Wakschlag, PhD and developmental cognitive neuroscientist, Elizabeth Norton, PhD. The DevMech program conducts research at the intersection of developmental and clinical science, spanning the prenatal period through early childhood. DevMech’s research aims to characterize early developmental patterns marking emergent mental health and other neurodevelopmental risks, as well as prenatal influences on these pathways, and application to prevention. Multiple developmentally sensitive methods are used (including EEG/ERP, MRI, and eye tracking), as well as behavioral and family assessments and assessments of the social ecology, with emphasis on risk and resilience.

 Developmental Sciences Manager

 The Developmental Sciences Manager will provide leadership on the planning, design, and implementation of research procedures across multiple studies. Responsibilities will include oversight of developmental assessments of infants, young children, and families; recruitment and retention efforts; developing systems for training staff in assessments and engaging with families; and monitoring assessment fidelity and reliability of video-coded observational data. The manager will support the program as a whole, with strong focus on managing scientific aspects of the new national HEALthy Brain & Child Development Study (HBCD). The manager will create and implement clear, comprehensive study procedures for assessments and other study activities. Assessment coordinators, research assistants, and participant navigators will report to this position. The manager will also engage in ongoing relationships with community partners, including government offices, social service agencies, and other study stakeholders. The manager will support recruitment and retention efforts by developing recruitment materials and instituting creative ways to support family engagement and retention, including referrals to services in the community. This individual will also assist with the creation of child development reports and other information for study families. The manager will work with the Data Scientist to ensure that data systems and day-to-day study operations and assessments are closely aligned. The manager will collaborate with the scientific team in writing progress reports, grant submissions, manuscripts, and other scientific products.

 The ideal candidate will have training and expertise in prenatal/early childhood research with diverse and/or marginalized populations. We are looking for a team player who is proactive, shows a high level of initiative, has excellent attention to detail, and has the ability to work flexibly. The individual will be a member of a multi-disciplinary team and should be comfortable communicating with people from a variety of backgrounds, including investigators, research staff, and diverse child and parent participants. The position requires a bachelor’s degree (preferred master’s degree in human development, psychology, social work, or related field), experience with developmental assessments of infants and young children, and at least 2 years of project coordination or management experience. 

 Research Operations Manager

 The Research Operations Manager will maximize DevMech systems efficiency and accountability, through implementation of operational best practices and creating economies of scale across multiple funded studies.  The manager will support the DevMech program as a whole, with strong focus on establishing efficient systems for the national HEALthy Brain & Child Development Study (HBCD) and supporting the ongoing When to Worry Studies.  As the HBCD study is part of a national consortium, the manager will be the hub of communications with the HBCD national coordinating centers and ensure that national communications are implemented at the Northwestern site. The manager will have primary responsibility for creating, implementing and/or overseeing program-wide project management systems (e.g., communication, scheduling systems, action items, meeting minutes, etc) and training the team in active use.  This individual will develop and refine clear and well-documented administrative procedures/manuals for program operations including staff onboarding, participant payments, and a broad range of operational SOPs. The manager will oversee IRB processes across DevMech studies and act as a liaison to Departmental Research Administration, University Systems, and external collaborating sites.  Additionally, this individual will oversee hiring of staff positions within DevMech and be the program’s primary liaison to Human Resources.

 The ideal candidate will have a high level of initiative, close attention to detail, a proactive approach, and outstanding ability to work well with a broad range of staff and investigators both within and outside of Northwestern. The position requires a bachelor’s degree (preferred master’s degree in psychology, public health, clinical investigation, or related field), and at least 2 years of project coordination or management experience. Experience with developmental assessments of infants and young children and research involving children and families is ideal.   

 Infant/Toddler MRI Technologist/Coordinator

 This position is a unique opportunity for individuals interested in brain-based assessment in developmental studies in early childhood. The main responsibility of the MRI Technologist/Coordinator will be coordinating and overseeing MRI visits across multiple inter-related studies of prenatal and early childhood risk and neurodevelopmental outcomes. This individual will lead sessions collecting MRI data from infants and toddlers during natural sleep, and coordinate the scheduling of MRI sessions, prepare children for scanning, set up equipment, run the MRI acquisition computer, monitor the child during the scan, and other activities as needed. This individual will assist the project manager in monitoring study performance, assist in development/implementation of new protocols and ensuring that all processes, protocols, and procedures are functioning well. There are additional opportunities to engage in EEG/ERP and behavioral data collection and analysis, as well as to engage in scientific products (meetings, presentations, papers) as appropriate. The candidate will also have the opportunity to join the University-wide interdisciplinary community of the Institute for Innovations in Developmental Science (DevSci), which provides a range of career development and engagement opportunities with over 150 faculty and 150 trainees at all levels participating.

 We are seeking a candidate with experience/training in developmentally-based neuroimaging assessments. The ideal candidate will have experience operating an MRI scanner and leading MRI acquisition sessions. Experience conducting MRI sessions with neonates, infants, and toddlers and comfort working with children and families is strongly preferred.  Familiarity with MRI image quality control (monitoring data quality in real time) is also preferred. This position requires a highly motivated individual with a strong attention to detail. The candidate must be able to interact comfortably and professionally with diverse families and young children. The ability to work flexibly across multiple demands and balance administrative skills related to study coordination is crucial.

Flexibility in hours, including evenings and weekends, is required. The candidate must have strong written and spoken English skills and be safe to work in the MRI environment. A two-year commitment is strongly preferred.

 Setting & Programmatic Focus

 These positions are outstanding opportunities for individuals interested in supporting and engaging in research with young children and families and getting an in-depth understanding of state-of-the-art methods for developmental and family assessment. These individuals will also participate in career development forums and opportunities of the DevMech Program and interact closely with a diverse group of scientists including scholars in clinical psychology, social work, neuroscience, developmental science, biostatistics and physician-scientists. 

 To formally apply for these positions, please fill out an application through the Northwestern University Career website through the following links.

Applicants are also requested to send the following documents to Dr. Renee Edwards.

  • a cover letter describing qualifications, interest in the position, and career goals
  • a resume
  • contact information for three references (to be contacted for finalists)
  • Paid job
  • Post-graduation