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Open Postdoctoral position, faculty mentor Susan Athey

Important Info

Faculty Sponsor (Last, First Name): 
Athey, Susan
Stanford Departments and Centers: 
Graduate School of Business
Postdoc Appointment Term: 
2022 - 2024
Appointment Start Date: 
September 2022
How to Submit Application Materials: 

To be ensured of full consideration, please send your complete application by January 21, 2022 in a single PDF to with the subject line: “SIL Postdoc_Athey”.

Open postdoctoral position through the Stanford Impact Labs Postdoctoral Fellowship Program to work on social impact research with Professor Susan Athey at the Golub Capital Social Impact Lab.
Stanford Impact Labs is a new initiative at Stanford University investing in highly-motivated teams of researchers and practitioners to generate new insights and solutions to persistent social problems. To begin in the Fall of 2022, Stanford Impact Labs is now accepting applications to the two-year postdoctoral fellowship program in collaboration with three research teams.
As part of this program, Professor Susan Athey, the Faculty Director of the Golub Capital Social Impact Lab, is seeking a diverse pool of applicants who wish to join a team-based, collaborative community that value the different skills, expertise, and perspectives necessary to design, conduct, sustain, and disseminate public impact research.
The Golub Capital Social Impact lab is part of the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. The lab partners with leading social sector organizations to conduct research that promotes, develops, and applies innovative technology and best-practice solutions that span the lab domain areas of charitable giving, education, financial health, government services, health and worker training.
The postdoctoral fellow will have a senior role in a project aimed at increasing voter confidence in U.S. elections, in which the lab is partnering with government officials to develop strategies that are to be deployed in the 2022 and 2024 elections. Accusations of election fraud have become increasingly prevalent online, despite a lack of supporting evidence, and even as existing literature on voter confidence provides some insight, there is little knowledge on why some individuals lack confidence in elections and others do not. There is also a lack of knowledge about how to effectively counteract unsubstantiated claims of fraud. The postdoctoral fellow will work in a team that develops a multi-phase, comprehensive experiment to identify segments of U.S. voters based on their concerns about the election system, and then develop customized interventions to address each segment’s concerns. The research will use interactive chatbots on Facebook, which proved highly successful at engaging voters in the 2020 election cycle, to both learn about voter’s concerns and treat them.
The fellow will also be a part of the Lab’s larger team, which consists of multiple affiliated faculty, 5 other postdoctoral fellows, and 13 student collaborators. Lab members have diverse backgrounds and interests, ranging from political science to computer science to design engineering. The fellow will be joining a vibrant community of researchers dedicated to using technology and social science for social impact.
Depending on the fellow’s skills and interests, the fellowship will allow the opportunity to: create novel experimental designs, including adaptive and dynamic treatment regimes, bandits, and contextual bandits; run experiments in collaboration with technology firms or on tech firm platforms; use and develop cutting edge methodology for working with large data sets, using university infrastructure or the infrastructure of tech firms, including tools of machine learning and causal inference; develop coding expertise for publicly released software; and/or develop expertise in managing large-scale empirical projects with large code bases written by teams.
The ideal candidate will have conducted behavioral/experimental research, have experience working with external partners on field experiments and have domain area expertise. Excellent candidates with other specialities or backgrounds related to the lab’s work will also be considered.
The position involves:

  • Developing and working on research projects using advanced experimental design and other causal inference techniques.
  • Serving as project manager and collaborator on research projects, as a coauthor on some projects and as an assisting researcher on others.
  • Training and managing student research assistants; including ensuring continuity over projects on which multiple research assistants might work on across time.
  • Planning, organizing, and overseeing research projects; including identifying promising research areas, ensuring good progress on projects, and securing all necessary data, research assistants and software to conduct research.
  • Contributing to website content and course material relating to research projects; including writing about work to engage advanced student, funder and partner audiences.
  • Managing relationships with external (non-academic) partners such as tech companies and nonprofits; including coordinating meetings and workflow with external partners and selecting external partners and projects to collaborate on.
  • Contributing to funding applications and IRB approvals.

The ideal candidate is either preparing for an academic position in a field closely aligned with the lab, for which collaboration on the lab’s projects would serve as strong preparation, or an industry position, ie., in a technology company. This position does not incorporate independent research by the fellow outside the scope of the lab; any independent research would be conducted outside of regular work hours and should be managed so as to not present a conflict of commitment to the lab. 
Mentorship Structure
The postdoctoral fellow will be supervised by Prof. Susan Athey and will collaborate with research scholars, staff, and PhD students affiliated with the lab. Mentorship of the Postdoctoral Associate 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 be invited to participate in select professional development, cohort-building, and SIL programming goals and activities.

Required Qualifications: 
  • Completion of all doctoral requirements within the past three years and no later than September 1st, 2022 in economics, political science, business or management disciplines, statistics, decision sciences, psychology, marketing, experimental philosophy, or any other relevant scientific discipline or related fields, with deep expertise relevant to at least some of the problems and methods described above.
  • Training in behavioral science research methods
  • Excellent coding skills and experience with statistical software in multiple languages (R, Python, C++ are used regularly)
  • Experience with econometrics, modeling and/or programming
  • Experience with large datasets
  • Experience with designing, implementing and analyzing experiments
  • Experience using cloud computing services such as AWS, Azure, etc.
  • Experience with Github or similar tools for collaboration and version control
  • Experience in interdisciplinary research, working in collaborative teams and managing research assistants
  • Excellent organizational skills, including the ability to set goals, track progress, and prioritize to meet deadlines
  • Strong 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 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
Required Application Materials: 
  1. Letter of interest explaining your motivation to become a postdoc with the respective research Lab through the Stanford Impact Labs fellowship program (500 words max)
  2. Short responses to the following three prompts, in 300 words or less for each:
  • Please provide a short description of your dissertation research and broader research agenda.
  • How does your research training and expertise prepare you to make progress towards understanding and identifying practical solutions to social problems?
  • 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?

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


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.