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Postdoctoral Researcher - Researcher-to-Policy Collaboration Optimization




12 months (100% time) with possibility of renewal based on need and performance

Position Description

We invite applications for a Postdoctoral Researcher (Postdoc) appointment that will support the optimization of the Research-to-Policy Collaboration (RPC; Housed in the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center at The Pennsylvania State University (PSU), the RPC is an approach for facilitating partnerships between researchers and congressional officials in ways that are thought to support policymakers’ use of research evidence. This optimization study will examine how augmenting the RPC’s ability to cultivate empowering settings can increase policy engagement, influence, and benefits, particularly for researchers of color. The scholar selected for this position will collect and analyze in-depth qualitative data from researchers involved in the RPC via semi-structured interviews and focus groups.


The Postdoc will work directly with Dr. Denisa Gándara, assistant professor of Education Policy and Leadership at Southern Methodist University (co-Investigator).

Tasks may include:

  • Recruiting interview and focus group participants (e.g., faculty of color)

  • Conducting reviews of relevant literature

  • Interviewing tenure-track faculty members (remote)

  • Conducting focus groups with tenure-track faculty members (remote)

  • Analyzing qualitative data

  • Co-authoring academic papers

  • Managing project

  • Liaising with RPC team

  • Supervising project research assistants

This is a researcher position; there is no teaching obligation.


Eligible applicants will have completed all requirements for a Ph.D. or Ed.D. at the time of appointment. Preference will be given to candidates with a Ph.D. in the social sciences, especially in higher education or political science. Applicants must have the ability to work independently and as a team; therefore, excellent oral and written communication skills are required.


In addition to the above requirements, the successful candidate will preferably have:

  • Independent qualitative research experience, including designing and conducting qualitative research studies (e.g., collecting and analyzing qualitative data)

  • Knowledge of scholarship related to evidence use in public policy and/or faculty of color in academe

  • Prior project management experience

  • Ability to be self-directed with broadly-defined limits on projects

  • A record of authored publications or articles in preparation

Benefits to Postdoc

This position presents an opportunity for a Postdoc to enhance research experience through involvement in a mixed-method study investigating policymakers’ use of research evidence, researchers’ policy skill and engagement, and collaborative interactions between researchers and policymakers.

Salary and Compensation

The expected salary is $60,000 plus fringe benefits.

Application Instructions

Full consideration will be given to those applicants who send a complete application via email to A complete application will consist of:

  • Cover letter describing research interests, qualifications, and relevant experience

  • Curriculum Vitae

  • Names and contact information for 3 references

  • 1-2 writing sample(s)

Review and Selection

Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.

General questions regarding the position may be addressed to:

Denisa Gándara, Assistant Professor

Southern Methodist University

Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development

Southern Methodist University

3101 University Blvd., Ste. 333

Dallas, TX 75204