Teaching & Education
January 9, 2015

Research Opportunities for Post-Doctoral Fellows and Graduate Students


The University of Wisconsin is an exciting place to undertake graduate and post-doctoral studies. Graduate students in our lab group hold their undergraduate degrees in a wide variety of fields from psychology to cell biology to computer science to economics. Many of the graduate students in the lab are enrolled in a doctoral program in the Department of Psychology, but graduate students working on degrees in many other fields also participate in our lab group. Students in the lab have also been enrolled in degree programs in Education, Communicative Disorders, Genetic Counseling, Anthropology, Neuroscience, Occupational Therapy/Kinesiology, Psychiatry, and Public Policy. Members of our lab group share interests in biological perspectives on child development using experimental methods.

Those with interests in the graduate program in Psychology may apply to through any of the area groups (Clinical, Developmental, Biology of Brain and Behavior, Cognition/Cognitive Neuroscience, Social). However, Dr. Pollak strongly encourages applicants to consider the Psychology Department's new and innovative Individualized Graduate Major. This doctoral program allows a student to combine traditional sub-fields of psychology with course offerings from other departments across the University. For example, students might combine aspects of clinical and developmental psychology with neuroscience or medical imaging. Graduate applicants with exceptionally strong undergraduate records may be eligible for University Fellowships. Those with interests in the cross-section of emotional development, biology, and psychopathology may be considered for fellowships through our Emotion Research Training program.

Current research in the lab focuses on developmental affective neuroscience, early adversity/stress, interactions of emotional and cognitive processes, the neurobiology of emotional development, and developmental psychopathology. Various projects in the lab involve preschool-aged children, school-aged children, and adolescents. These children represent a variety of very interesting risk groups that include children who have experienced early caregiving adversity including abuse, severe neglect, extreme poverty, and parent psychopathology. Many students in the lab are also developing empirically tractable models of emotional development by studying typically developing children.Our lab is home to the Wisconsin International Adoption Project, a longitudinal study of children who were raised in impoverished institutionalized settings around the world prior to being adopted into homes in the US. We also provide a developmental neuropsychological assessment clinic for children, collaborate with Head Start and community mental health agencies who provide treatment to maltreated children and adolescents with trauma-related disorders.

We have a very interdisciplinary group: students collaborate with faculty studying cognitive development, perceptual development, communication disorders, brain imaging, immunology, effects of psychological interventions, genetics, kinesiology, endocrinology, depression, aggression, and substance abuse. We also have a fabulous Emotion Research Training program for students interested in studying the biological aspects of emotion as related to psychopathology and child development. One special aspect of our lab group is that each student pursues his or her own line of research rather than being assigned a part of larger on-going projects. At the same time, we have a strong sense of community in that everyone in the lab shares a focus on developmental processes, a sincere interest in children's health, and in using science to promote children's well being.

Our lab group also welcomes applicants seeking post-doctoral training. Post-doctoral fellows may be supported through the Emotion Training Program, the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Fellows Program, the Training Program in Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities, and other sources of support. Our lab has also hosted short-term visiting scholars from other institutions and students pursuing scientist/research tracks as part of their medical residency training programs. Dr. Pollak holds appointments in the departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.