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Postdoc Associate- Communication
Cornell University in New York City, New York
Date Posted 02/27/2021
Admin-Public Relations, Marketing and Communications
Employment Type
Application Deadline Open until filled

Postdoc Associate- Communication

Cornell University embraces diversity and seeks candidates who will contribute to a climate that supports students, faculty and staff of all identities and backgrounds. We strongly encourage individuals from underrepresented and/or marginalized identities to apply.

Computational Social Science and Health

Department of Communication

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Position Summary:

The Postdoctoral Associate will support a new and large National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded grant, involving the Department of Communication at Cornell University, which will use computational approaches (including natural language processing) to monitor the public communication environment about colorectal cancer screening, crowdsourcing to engage in formative evaluation of possible message content, and a randomized, controlled trial to validate these computational and crowdsourcing approaches.

 In light of both high rates of colorectal cancer and disproportionate disease burden among Black Americans, there is a critical need to understand the public information environment surrounding colorectal cancer screening (an evidence-based approach to reduce rates of death from colon cancer) and to identify messages that resonate among populations at-risk for the disease who may have concerns about screening tests and may face disparities in exposure to (mis)information from online sources. To this end, the Postdoctoral Associate will work with Dr. Drew Margolin and Dr. Jeff Niederdeppe, along with a team of students and faculty from other institutions, to develop, test and apply computational social scientific methods, including natural language processing (NLP) and network analysis, to assess and analyze the public information environment (including websites, news outlets, and social media) surrounding colon cancer screening. The postdoc will have the opportunity to publish relevant research findings and contribute to the project’s larger goal of improving public health communication about colorectal cancer screening to address disparities among Black Americans at higher risk for colon cancer.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

This is an interdisciplinary, multi-institution research project in which the Postdoctoral Associate will work with Dr. Margolin and Dr. Niederdeppe to employ computational social science methods, including but not limited to NLP and network analysis, to capture and analyze information relevant to colon cancer screening on websites, news sources, and social media. The Postdoctoral Associate will also provide mentorship of undergraduate and graduate students in the use of computational techniques for data collection and analysis. The Postdoctoral Associate is expected to perform the following duties (all in collaboration with team leadership and members):

  • Collect publicly available text data (e.g., from Twitter, Reddit, or medical information websites) that relates to colorectal cancer (10%)
  • Develop techniques for identifying social science theoretic variables in these data (25%)
  • Analyze data to draw social scientific conclusions about the information environment they characterize (working with PIs) (25%)
  • Communicate research methodology and results orally and in written format for scientific presentations and publications, as well as to non-scientific audiences (25%)
  • Mentor other team members in analysis (10%)
  • Assist in other projects when needed (5%)

 In addition, the Postdoctoral Associate will be encouraged to develop a personal research program, publish research results in peer-reviewed publications, as well as take advantage of the multitude of internal and external mentoring opportunities Cornell affords to early career researchers.

This is a full-time, 12-month academic position. Reappointment for a second year is likely, contingent on successful performance, funding, and available work. The anticipated start date is July 1, 2021.


  • Ph.D. in a computational field, including but not limited to computational social science, information science, computational communication science, computer science, networks science, and computational linguistics
  • Proficiency in natural language processing (deep learning, distributed semantic representation, text mining methods) for social scientific research aims
  • Experience in acquiring and working with text data from social media and other online sources
  • Experience with network analysis desirable but not required
  • Demonstrated ability to carry out independent research
  • Record of communicating research results via peer-reviewed publications and presentations
  • Experience communicating about research with non-academic audiences
  • Willingness to mentor and supervise undergraduate and graduate research assistants


All components of the application must be submitted through Academic Jobs Online: https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/18214 . Interested applicants should submit: (1) a curriculum vitae, (2) a letter of interest, including a brief description of how this position relates to their career plans, (3) statement of contribution to diversity, equity, and inclusion , and (4) the names and contact information of three references.

We will begin reviewing applications on March 30, 2021 and will continue until the position is filled. Special consideration will be given to applications received by March 30, 2021.

 Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations.

Employment Assistance:

If you require an accommodation for a disability in order to complete an employment application or to participate in the recruiting process, you are encouraged to contact Cornell University's Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity at voice (607) 255-3976, fax (607) 255-7481, or email at owdi@cornell.edu .

For general questions about the position or the application process, please contact the Recruiter listed in the job posting.

Applicants that do not have internet access are encouraged to visit your local library, or local Department of Labor. You may also visit the office of Workforce Recruitment and Retention Monday - Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. to use a dedicated workstation to complete an online application.

Notice to Applicants:

Please read the required Notice to Applicants statement by clicking here . This notice contains important information about applying for a position at Cornell as well as some of your rights and responsibilities as an applicant.

EEO Statement:

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations. Cornell University is an innovative Ivy League university and a great place to work. Our inclusive community of scholars, students, and staff impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose, and contribute creative ideas to further the university's mission of teaching, discovery, and engagement.


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