Join the Lab

Research Environment and Opportunities

The environment at USC is an outstanding one for researchers with interests in cognitive neuroscience, emotion, decision making and aging. The USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology is the oldest and largest school of gerontology in the world and has long been a leader in the field, with its multidisciplinary faculty doing research in neuroscience, molecular biology, psychology, sociology, demography and public policy. The Psychology Department and the Neuroscience Program have outstanding faculty in cognitive and affective neuroscience. There are also faculty members and other researchers with related interests in other schools and departments across campus, such as at the law, business and medical schools.

The Dornsife Imaging Center has a research-dedicated 3T MR scanner capable of performing structural, spectroscopic and functional scans of human subjects as they view and listen to stimuli. In addition, there are peripheral devices allowing collection of eye movements, skin conductance responses, heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rhythm. The Center also provides study preparation space, a mock scanner, and an imaging analysis laboratory. There is a full-time physicist who assists investigators with the technical details necessary to conduct studies and a full-time data analysis consultant. The Center is less than one block away from the USC Emotion & Cognition Lab.

Prospective Graduate Students and Postdocs

In order to join the Emotion & Cognition Lab as a graduate student, you should apply to one of the following USC Ph.D programs: GerontologyPsychology, or Neuroscience. Once you have applied, please email Mara Mather to let her know to take a look at your application.

If you are interested in joining the lab as a postdoctoral fellow, please email Mara Mather to discuss the possibility. You may also be interested in applying for the Multidisciplinary Research Training in Gerontology Program.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

We are looking for bright and motivated undergraduates who are interested in learning more about the cognitive neuroscience of emotion, decision making and memory. As an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the USC Emotion & Cognition Lab, you would work closely with other members of the lab on one or more of our ongoing research projects. Your involvement would include running experiment sessions with participants, helping to enter, code and analyze data, preparing stimuli for projects and doing literature searches. There is also the opportunity to get involved in neuroimaging (fMRI) research. Research assistants typically volunteer their time or earn course credit for working in the lab, rather than being paid. Because of the training involved in becoming a research assistant in our lab, we ask for a minimum 12 hour commitment per week, usually for at least two semesters. If you are interested in gaining research experience by working in our lab please apply with this application link.  You are also welcome to call us at 213-740-9543 or email us at for more information.