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Open Postdoctoral position, faculty mentor Jelena Obradović

Important Info

Faculty Sponsor (Last, First Name): 
Jelena Obradović
Stanford Departments and Centers: 
Graduate School of Education
Stanford Impact Lab (SIL)
Postdoc Appointment Term: 
2 years: Sept 2024 - Aug 2026
Appointment Start Date: 
September 1, 2024
Does this position pay above the required minimum?: 
Yes. The expected base pay range for this position is listed in Pay Range field. The pay offered to the selected candidate will be determined based on factors including (but not limited to) the qualifications of the selected candidate, budget availability, and internal equity.

Open postdoctoral position through the Stanford Impact Labs Postdoctoral Fellowship Program with Dr. Jelena Obradović and the SPARK Lab.
Stanford Impact Labs is an initiative at Stanford University that invests in highly motivated teams of researchers and practitioners—impact labs—to generate new insights and solutions to persistent social problems. To begin in September 2024, Stanford Impact Labs is now accepting applications to the following two-year postdoctoral fellowship program opportunity.
Dr. Jelena Obradović and the SPARK Lab are seeking a diverse pool of applicants who wish to join a team-based, collaborative community and who value the different skills, expertise, and perspectives necessary to design, conduct, sustain, and disseminate public impact research. We encourage applications from individuals from a broad diversity of PhD-granting institutions, backgrounds, and life experiences who would strengthen and diversify our community of scholars.
Dr. Jelena Obradović is a developmental psychologist and a professor at Stanford University in the Developmental and Psychological Sciences Program in the Graduate School of Education. Her research group, the Stanford Project on Adaptation and Resilience in Kids — the SPARK Lab — examines how the interplay of children’s physiological stress arousal, executive functions (EFs), self-regulatory behaviors, and quality of caregiving and educational environments contributes to their health, learning, and well-being over time. She has created innovative, scalable assessments of EF skills and learning-relevant behaviors (e.g., persistence, challenge preference), and formed research-practice partnerships to include larger and more diverse groups of children in empirical research that identifies contextually and culturally relevant ways to promote their development.
The MAGIC Project (Measuring Acquisition & Growth of Inquiry & Curiosity) is a new research initiative at the Stanford Center on Early Childhood. Professor Jelena Obradović and her team at the SPARK Lab aim to develop measures of young learners’ curiosity, creativity, initiative, problem-solving, and scientific inquiry. Developing these skills in early childhood creates a foundation for lifelong learning, yet there is a lack of valid and scalable measures that can inform efforts to promote these skills in preschool and early elementary grades. The project team will work with educational and community partners to test and validate these assessments with children from diverse language, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds to ensure that tasks yield information that is equitable and relevant.
Based on their expertise, the postdoctoral fellow will engage with the project in a variety of ways, including helping the team collect, analyze, and interpret data using interviews and focus groups. Specifically, the postdoctoral fellow will engage with parents and early childhood educators to capture their understanding of children’s curiosity, creativity, initiative, problem-solving, and scientific inquiry and how these skills are used in everyday settings. Additionally, the fellow will study educators’ perspectives on what makes assessments useful and equitable. The fellow will also participate in the design, evaluation, and validation of new performance-based assessments of foundational learning skills. They will also receive training in, and will apply, quantitative research methods used to validate assessments across groups (e.g., measurement invariance/differential item functioning) to ensure that assessments are unbiased with respect to racial/ethnic background and language. This position offers an excellent opportunity to further analytical and writing skills and to publish scientific papers.
Mentorship Structure:

The postdoctoral fellow will be supervised by Prof. Jelena Obradović and will collaborate with research scholars, staff, and PhD students affiliated with the lab. Mentorship of the Postdoctoral Fellow will be structured according to research and professional interests.
In addition, a goal of the Stanford Impact Labs Postdoctoral Fellowship Program is to create a diverse community of scholars who are committed to producing research that has a positive impact on society. Postdoctoral fellows will have the opportunity to engage with one another and with the broader Stanford Impact Labs team and community, and will participate in professional development, cohort-building, and other programming activities.

  • Completion of all doctoral requirements within the past three years and no later than September 1st, 2024.
  • Has research expertise in early childhood development. Sub-areas of interest include:
  • Early childhood education
  • Measurement development
  • Qualitative research methodology
  • Quantitative training
  • Experience working with historically marginalized minority groups
  • Demonstrates excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Is committed to advancing solutions to social problems through rigorous research, and communicating research findings to diverse audiences, including non-academic audiences
  • Wishes to grow their collaborative research skills and ability to partner with organizations

Candidates will be evaluated according to their:

  • Scientific record and potential
  • Commitment to pursuing scholarship that can impact public policy or social outcomes
  • Potential contribution to the research team
  • Potential contribution to the Stanford Impact Labs Postdoctoral Fellowship program and the educational activities, goals, and community of Stanford Impact Labs
  • Potential for scholarly careers that will contribute to addressing historical inequities and advancing diversity through their research, teaching, and service.


Priority deadline is January 14, 2023.
Review of applications will begin on January 15 and will continue on a rolling basis until the position is filled.
Those advancing may be asked to submit additional materials, including letters of recommendation, and may be invited to interview. Please do not send emails asking about your status; you will be contacted by the faculty lead if you are advancing in the review process.
To apply:

To be ensured of full consideration, please send your complete application in a single PDF to with the subject line: “SIL Postdoc_Obradović”.
Complete applications should include:

  • Letter of interest explaining your motivation to become a postdoc with the respective research lab through the Stanford Impact Labs postdoctoral fellowship program (500 words max).
  • Short responses to the following three prompts, in 300 words or less for each:

1. Please provide a short description of your dissertation research and broader research agenda.
2. How does your research training and expertise prepare you to make progress towards understanding and identifying practical solutions to social problems?
3. In what ways have you contributed towards and/or demonstrated a commitment to inclusion, equity, and diversity through your academic career, and how do you plan to advance these commitments professionally?

  • CV: Provide a curriculum vitae of no more than 5 pages.
  • One representative writing sample.

The expected base pay for this position is $78,734. The pay offered to the selected candidate will be determined based on factors including (but not limited to) the qualifications of the selected candidate, budget availability, and internal equity.


Stanford is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.