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Research Specialist


The Research Specialist (RS) will be supporting the Decision Neuroscience and Psychopathology Lab (DNPL) PI: Alex Dombrovski, MD. The RS will work on several NIH-supported lines of research in close collaboration with Michael Hallquist’s Developmental Personality Neuroscience Laboratory at UNC Chapel Hill. Our lab studies decision-making and learning in mental disorders including borderline personality, depression, and suicide. We are particularly interested in social decision-making and in how people resolve the tradeoff between exploiting known valuable options and exploring unfamiliar ones. 

The Research Specialist will support 3 ongoing projects in the lab. All projects use reinforcement learning models applied to behavioral and neuroimaging data to study:
  • examine how in depressed older adults, high cognitive demands and impaired decision making can lead to progression from suicide ideation to action.
  • examine neural mechanisms of interpersonal dysfunction and decision making deficits in the predisposition for suicidal behavior.
  • a novel 28-day EMA protocol collecting mood, EEG, EKG data to examine affective instability in daily life and how mood relates to reward learning in borderline personality disorder.

More information about the lab can be found here: 

This position is grant funded. 

  • Independently execute job functions for research protocol(s) including recruitment, scheduling appointments, obtaining written consent forms, collecting data by conducting phone or face to face interviews for research project(s), processing subject payments.
  • Administer clinical and diagnostic interviews and neuropsychological tests
  • Conduct fMRI scans and assist with data management.
  • Assist with mobile EEG protocol setup and EMA monitoring.
  • Oversee subject flow and scheduling for various protocols.
  • Assist with administrative tasks such as ordering supplies, submitting NIH reports, and IRB protocol management.
  • Present papers for discussion at regular lab meetings.
  • Collaborate with senior research personnel regarding recruitment, data collection, outcomes of interviews, reports according to the needs of the study.


  • Bachelor's degree required, preferably in psychology, neuroscience, sociology or related research field.
  • Minimum of one year of work experience in a research project and/or related clinical setting is required.
  • Familiarity with computers and common software packages required.
  • Working knowledge of research methodology strongly preferred.
  • Familiarity with programming languages preferred.
  • Familiarity with clinical and diagnostic interviews preferred.
  • Familiarity with fMRI and EMA methodology preferred.
Licensure, Certifications, and Clearances:
  • Act 34
UPMC is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Disability/Veteran

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