Postdoctoral Researcher: Songbird Neuroethology Laboratory

SCI Psychology Science

Competition No.  -    A108047827
Closing Date  -    Will remain open until filled.

The Songbird Neuroethology Laboratory (SNL, in the Department of Psychology at the University of Alberta is hiring a full-time postdoctoral researcher to lead behavioral/neurobiological research examining how songbird communication in an integrative fashion. Our work is currently focused on understanding the cognitive, perceptual, evolutionary, developmental, and neural bases underlying chickadees’ perception of the acoustic (vocal) categories (i.e., note-types, call types) contained in their calls and songs, as a first step towards a comprehensive understanding songbird acoustic communication.

The SNL is funded by an NSERC Discovery Grant and the Faculty of Science. We currently have an active and highly collaborative laboratory, with four graduate students, one honors student, a full time laboratory manager, and several other undergraduate students involved in various capacities. We maintain over 100 wild-caught black-capped chickadees and domestically-raised zebra finches for use in our experiments. We have built a laboratory housing all conceivable equipment that our trainees could potentially need to pursue almost any research question they choose related to our overarching theme of songbird communication, cognition, and neuroethology. This includes 20 custom-designed and recently-upgraded operant conditioning setups, eight sound-attenuating chambers, a fully-equipped microscopy lab, as well as top-of-the-line bioacoustic analysis software. We also have a fully equipped histology facility (shared with Dr. Clayton Dickson, Dr. Peter Hurd, and Dr. Lauren Guillette). With the research infrastructure we have made available, there are no barriers to the questions that the trainees can ask, and as such, the students and postdoctoral fellows have continually found novel uses for the equipment, addressing their research questions using the best and most appropriate equipment available. Former postdoctoral researchers, for instance, have investigated mechanisms of chickadee call perception in the lab and field, midsession reversal learning in chickadees, and the impacts of anthropogenic noise on perception. The successful candidate will have all of these facilities at their disposal during their fellowship.

The appointment will initially be for two years and will be renewable for up to two additional years subject to satisfactory performance and budgetary availability.

Starting date is negotiable but start dates between September 2022 to January 2023 are preferred. Successful candidates will be expected to apply for external funding with the help of the Principal Investigator (PI).

International and domestic applicants will be accepted.

The candidate shall possess:

  • A Ph.D. in psychology or related field (e.g., behavioral ecology, animal behaviour with an interest in animal cognition/learning)
  • Experience conducting behavioral and/or neurobiological experiments with animals in the laboratory or the field
  • Excellent communication and organizational skills
  • A strong record of publications, conference presentations, and public outreach
  • The ability to work on a team, lead a team, and also to work independently
  • A commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in work practices
  • Experience working with birds (desirable)

Responsibilities include:

  • Design and implement projects related to the aims of the SNL, in consultation with the PI and other research collaborators
  • Assist in the oversight of graduate and undergraduate student research projects, and other personnel, to achieve targeted research objectives within timelines, in consultation with the PI
  • Manage day-to-day operation of research laboratory, including maintaining equipment and supplies, overseeing troubleshooting of problems, and ensuring adherence to safety protocols
  • Analyze, interpret, and report research results; assist in preparation of publications and grant applications; present results in meetings, seminars, and conferences
  • Engage in public outreach with diverse audiences

How to Apply:

To apply, please forward the following and send them in one email to Dr. Christopher Sturdy (

(1) A two-page statement of research interests

(2) Your CV

(3) Three pdfs of representative publications

(4) Contact information for three references

(5) A one page diversity statement (applicants should identify their strengths and experiences with equity, diversity and inclusion, such as supporting diverse and/or underrepresented students)

The SNL, the Department of Psychology, and the University of Alberta are committed to an equitable, diverse, and inclusive workforce. We welcome applications from all qualified persons. We encourage women, First Nations, MĂ©tis, and Inuit; members of visible minority groups; persons with disabilities; persons of any sexual orientation or gender identity and expression; and all those who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas and the University to apply.

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. If suitable Canadian citizens or permanent residents cannot be found, other individuals will be considered.