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  • Writer's pictureNational Institute on Scientific Teaching

Cornell University

Position: Postdoctoral Associate: Exploring how undergraduate learning of multifactorial genetics affects belief in genetic determinism


Applications are invited for a full-time post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) at Cornell University. The successful candidate will explore undergraduate thinking about genetic determinism, develop and implement several undergraduate genetics education interventions, measure the ability of these interventions to influence belief in genetic determinism, and work with instructors to create an updated curriculum that honors the complexity of twenty-first century genetics. This project is part of a collaboration that includes Dr. Brian Donovan (BSCS Science Learning) and Dr. Gregory Radick (BSCS Research Affiliate and Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds).

This project will involve developing and revising educational interventions that teach undergraduates concepts about multifactorial genetics (e.g., GxE, GWAS). The primary duties and responsibilities include developing these interventions, using surveys to measure thinking about genetic determinism in undergraduate students from several institutions, deploying these interventions in multiple classrooms using randomized controlled trials, conducting think-aloud interviews with undergraduate students, analyzing data from the interventions, and helping to develop curricular materials that address findings in the study. The successful candidate will also disseminate the results through publications and presentations at meetings.

Discipline-based education research is growing at Cornell, with faculty and collaborators in physics, biology, and other STEM fields, as well as a number of new postdocs, graduate and undergraduate student researchers. The successful candidate will have an opportunity to mentor and work with many individuals and participate in weekly education journal clubs and research meetings with the larger EEB and Cornell community.


Preferred qualifications include:

  • Ph.D. in biology, genetics, biology education research, or closely related field

  • Experience with relevant literature and education research methods, expertise in quantitative research methods and statistics (proficiency in multilevel statistical modeling using R, STATA, SAS, or HLM), and experience with qualitative research approaches such as conducting interviews with students using think-aloud protocols

  • Knowledge of and experience with the field of genetics (e.g., GxE, GWAS)

  • Ability and desire to work collaboratively, mentor graduate and undergraduate students, and to also work independently

  • Project leadership, time management, communication, and writing skills

The Postdoctoral Associate, will be appointed for a one-year period with the possibility of extension for two additional years based on satisfactory performance.

To Apply:

To apply: applicants should submit (as a single pdf file) a cover letter, CV, and 2-3 page research statement including relevant background and experiences, as well as the names and email or phone contacts of three professional references to: Review of applications will begin on March 15, 2020.

Please contact Dr. Smith ( with any questions.

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. The College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell embraces diversity and seeks candidates who will create a climate that attracts students and faculty of all races, nationalities, and genders. We strongly encourage women and underrepresented minorities to apply. Cornell University is a recognized EEO/AA employer and educator, valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities.

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