Join Us as an Undergraduate, Post-Bac, or Graudate Research Assistant

Research Assistant positions in the SCAN Lab are contingent upon the grad students’ needs and any studies we may be currently launching. We encourage students who are interested in joining the lab as undergraduate, graduate or post-bac RAs to familiarize themselves with our research (see Research and Publications). Interested applicants should fill the RA Application Form here and send a confirmation email to

For general information on getting involved in psychology research at Columbia, please visit the department’s website.

Join Us as a Graduate Student or Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Ochsner would be happy to consider PhD. students starting Fall 2020. Interested applicants should email him at

Graduate students join the SCAN Lab via the doctoral program in psychology at Columbia University. For general information on the application process, please visit the department’s website for prospective graduate students. For general information about the lab, please see the research and publications pages of our website.

For interested applicants, it may be useful to know that in the future the lab will:

  • Continue to work on projects that address various aspects of the ability to exert self-control over our emotions and behaviors, especially in aging and clinical populations.

  • Be increasingly studying the ways in which we regulate the emotions of other people in interaction with them (i.e. the social regulation of emotion, see, e.g., Reeck et al, 2016; Dore et al, 2017).

  • Be studying the ways in which brain systems support our lives in real world social networks (see, e.g., Zerubavel et al, 2015; 2018).

  • Be studying the ways in which the need to categorize our experiences and perceptions impacts the way we feel and understand others (see, e.g., Satpute et al, 2016).

Three pieces of general information about applying to graduate school:

  • First (as you likely already know), graduate school applications have three main parts - transcript(s), test scores and letters of recommendation. For many faculty evaluating applications, the letters matter most because they can attest to the interest in, commitment to, and talent for research of an applicant in a way that the other elements of an application can not.  In this context it may be useful to know that the folks the SCAN lab typically interviews, and those ultimately gain admission, typically have had prior research experience in a lab that does human behavioral and/or neuroscience work on social behavior, emotion or cognition (i.e. a lab working generally within the purview of social/affective/cognitive neuroscience or psychology).

  • Second, the application process also involves a written statement of research interests where you should mention labs that interest you.  At Columbia, for example, the SCAN lab would be one, but you should also list any other labs that may be of interest.  At Columbia, these could include traditionally ‘social’ faculty like Niall Bolger or Valerie Purdie Greenaway or others.  You could also include traditionally ‘cognitive’ faculty.  Here it might be useful to know that in the past few years the Psychology Department has added a cluster of cognitive neuroscience faculty, including Lila Davachi from NYU and Nikolaus Kriegeskorte from Cambridge at the senior level, as well as Mariam Aly and Chris Baldassano from Princeton at the junior level. For a list of Psychology faculty at Columbia, please click here.

    Whichever faculty you note as potentially of interest, it is important to know that at all Universities the order in which you list faculty in your personal statement matter. Indeed, it is often taken to indicate level of potential interest. So the first person you list may be taken as the person whose work is of greatest interest to you, the second person you list as of second most interest, and so on.

  • Third, the best way to get a sense of what the SCAN lab—or any lab—is working on is to check out the interests of current lab members and publications on lab websites. Recognizing that what appears in print often lags anywhere from 1-3 years behind the work at the present moment.

Good luck!

Join Us as a Visiting Scholar

The SCAN Lab welcomes visiting scholars across the world. During their visits—periods ranging from a few months to a year or more—the visiting scholars will initiate collaborations that may continue well after their departure, and will be encouraged to make full use of the rich resources available at Columbia and the Greater New York Area. Interested applicants should write to Dr. Kevin Ochsner at

Thank you for your interest! We look forward to talking with you.