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Cat Lab – Research Manager (postdoctoral Associate)

The Citizens and Technology Lab (CAT Lab), located in Cornell University’s Department of Communication, Ithaca, NY, is seeking a full-time Postdoctoral Associate to serve as Research Manager. In this position, the Postdoctoral Associate will oversee all aspects of our research collaborations with communities and external researchers.

CAT Lab, led by Dr. J. Nathan Matias, envisions a world where digital power is guided by evidence and accountable to the public. We work with communities to study the effects of technology on society and test ideas for social change online in the public interest. To achieve this mission, CAT Lab does industry-independent citizen science. Using open science software developed in-house, we collaborate with communities and movements to discover practical, replicable knowledge that contributes to science and is guided by the people affected by digital power. We practice full-cycle research, where participatory, qualitative research informs the theory and design of our field experiments.

The ideal candidate is someone excited about creating evidence that can make a difference in people’s lives, and who has a dual passion for community organizing and scientific rigor. We are seeking a candidate who is curious to learn community perspectives and needs, will work to ensure that research delivers value to communities alongside any scientific contributions, and who can be motivated to complete individual research studies while also advancing long-term organizational processes.

This is a full-time, 12-month academic position. Reappointment for a second year (or even third year) is possible contingent on successful performance, funding, and available work. The target start date is April 1, 2021 (or earlier) but can be delayed if necessary. After three years and contingent on funding and performance, the Postdoctoral Associate will be eligible for promotion to Research Associate.


The Research Manager’s primary responsibility is to manage the overall portfolio of CAT Lab studies, in collaboration with the CAT Lab team. The Research Manager will also have opportunities to develop and lead individual research projects at the intersection of community goals and your own research interests. Responsibilities include:

  • (20%) Managing relationships with online communities by developing new relationships, organizing events, and coordinating online conversations with communities on Reddit, Wikipedia, and other online networks
  • (60%) Shepherding our concurrent studies through the research pipeline, including:

○     Managing organizational processes for deciding what studies to conduct, together with communities and the CAT Lab team

○     Coordinating communities, researchers, and the engineering team to develop study designs that bridge community goals and scientific goals

○     Managing collaborations with external academic researchers

○     Coordinating literature reviews

○     Overseeing compliance with university research ethics requirements, legal privacy requirements, and community accountability processes

○     Managing the fielding of individual CAT Lab studies (working with the PI, community liaisons, the engineering team, and translators)

○     Coordinating the maintenance of study records

○     Contributing to data analysis, as relevant

○     Organizing report writing and coordinating community debriefings

○     Representing community needs and perspectives throughout each project, as CAT Lab’s main point of contact to communities

○     Contributing to academic publications as relevant

  • (20%) Managing research-related organizational processes:

○     Creating and maintaining CAT Lab’s overall research processes

○     Contributing information about the research process to funder reports

○     Contributing to research aspects of strategic planning and fundraising, in collaboration with the PI and Deputy Director

○     Attend quarterly CAT Lab meetings at Cornell’s Ithaca location and Cornell Tech in New York City



  • A Ph.D. in the behavioral sciences or an adjacent discipline (communication, psychology, sociology, information science, political science, education, economics, etc.)
  • Familiarity with participatory and/or qualitative approaches to research or other relevant experience in community organizing
  • Experience coordinating projects involving multiple stakeholders or organizations
  • Familiarity with research in socio-technical contexts such as online platforms
  • Strong writing skills
  • Basic experience using statistical software for data analysis (We use R and Python, but these are not required.)


  • Experience or familiarity with organizational processes used to develop new software or experience in projects that involved new software development
  • Experience working in distributed teams from multiple cultures
  • Prior experience with online communities or with social movements that organize online

Find more details and apply here.

Status: Open

Deadline: Ongoing


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