Postdoctoral Researcher

Faculty of Science - Computing Science

Competition No.  -    A113943059
Closing Date  -    Will remain open until filled.

University of Alberta

Department of Computing Science

Post-doctoral Researcher in Natural Language Processing and  Language Learning

 

We are seeking exceptional candidates for a post-doctoral appointment to be held jointly in the Fyshe and EdTeKLA research groups. The appointment will initially be for a one-year term and will be renewable for an additional year subject to availability of funding and satisfactory performance. The post-doctoral appointee will work on activities related to the computational modeling stream of a large collaborative grant that aims to better understand language development, acquisition, and literacy.

The person filling this position will work with Alona Fyshe and Carrie Demmans Epp on projects that relate to how language is represented, how language is used, and how people’s representation or use of language change over time.

 Research may include:

  • language modeling,
  • deep learning, including training large models using GPUs
  • possible analysis of neuro-imaging data (e.g., fMRI or EEG).

The two projects below serve as examples of the types of research we will be conducting. Project work will be jointly selected based on the successful candidate’s skills and interests and the goals of the grant.

1)    Semantic Representations During Language Acquisition and Development

How do infants and children model the semantics of their world?  How do their representations change during development?  Using brain imaging and behavioral studies, we will study how the semantic space shifts and warps as different semantic dimensions are learned, or change in their relative importance.  We will build computational models of semantics designed to more accurately model children’s semantic representations, and test them against our empirical data.

2)    Grammatical Error Detection and Intervention Based on Learner First Language

This project involves developing models to detect when a writer's grammatical error is due to their incorrectly applying a rule from their first language to their second language (i.e., negative transfer). We're currently developing models to identify negative transfer for speakers of English as an additional language whose first language is Chinese or Spanish. The models will be integrated into a Google Docs plug-in. This plug-in will give targeted feedback to writers to help them overcome negative transfer errors and improve their writing. We will then study how the generated feedback influences learner writing.

Expected Qualifications

Candidates must have completed their PhD before starting the position. They must also have demonstrated expertise in machine learning and natural language processing (NLP). Backgrounds in cognitive psychology, language acquisition, bilingual language, and literacy, among others, are advantageous. We are especially interested in exceptional candidates who transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and complement our existing strengths. Preference will be given to those who are interested in collaborating on research projects with other members of the grant who have backgrounds in linguistics, psychology, and education.

In addition to English, proficiency in one of the below languages or language families will be considered an asset but is not required

  • Algonquin languages (e.g., Cree)
  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • Farsi
  • French

How to Apply

Please submit a cover letter, CV, one-page research statement, and 2-5 references to demmanse@ualberta.ca. We are looking for someone to start as soon as possible. The review of applications will begin on Oct. 15 and will continue until a suitable candidate is found; in order to ensure full consideration, applications must be completed by November 15.

Pandemic, Moving, and Location Considerations

We recognize that pandemic-related concerns about your ability to move to Canada may be preventing some applicants from submitting materials. Please don’t let this stop you from applying. Here are Canada’s current policies for allowing people to enter Canada to begin work: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/coronavirus-covid19/travel-restrictions-exemptions.html

The Department of Computing Science (http://www.cs.ualberta.ca) is home to nearly 50 tenured and tenure-track faculty members and over 200 graduate students in its PhD and thesis-based MSc programs. Its faculty members have ties to the Faculty of Education and they participate in national and international research networks as well as cross-discipline institutes within the university.

The University of Alberta (http://www.ualberta.ca) ranks consistently within Canada’s five best medical/doctoral universities. Over 31,000 undergraduate students, 7,600 graduate students, and 600 postdoctoral fellows are part of the university’s exceptional learning and research environment. Edmonton (http://www.edmonton.ca), Alberta’s capital, offers a rich array of cultural, professional, sports, and entrepreneurial activities, with easy access to Canada’s Rocky Mountains, and its public elementary and secondary schools provide high quality education.

Edmonton is also home to the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (amii), which is part of the CIFAR $125M Pan-Canadian AI Strategy.  Amii has attracted an extremely strong cohort of professors, post-docs and graduate students, and enhanced what was already a very strong machine learning community in Edmonton. Successful candidates will become members of amii, and will be able to take advantage of amii events and resources.

The University of Alberta is committed to an equitable, diverse, and inclusive workforce. We welcome applications from all qualified persons. We encourage women; First Nations, Métis and Inuit persons; 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.

How to Apply

 Email     

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. The University of Alberta is committed to an equitable, diverse, and inclusive workforce. We welcome applications from all qualified persons. We encourage women; First Nations, Métis and Inuit persons; 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.