Postdoc in Psycholinguistics/Cognitive Psychology/Formal Semantics (1,0 fte), Utrecht University (Universiteit)

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Postdoc in Psycholinguistics/Cognitive Psychology/Formal Semantics (1,0 fte)

This position is part of a five-year research programme 'Between Logic and Common Sense' funded by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO. The program, supervised by Dr. Yoad Winter, investigates the interaction between word meanings and sentence meanings. While word meanings are often related to common sense aspects of semantic concepts, sentence meanings are derived using logical operators. The program will study how the two modules interact. Three issues will be addressed:

  • How should formal theories of meaning be modified in order to incorporate methods and ideas from the study of common concepts?
  • What psychological evidence exists that supports this interaction?
  • How can interactions between word meaning and logical meaning be exploited for automatic treatment of reasoning in natural language (entailment)?
  • The program combines methods from formal semantics, experimental psycholinguistics and machine learning.

    The programme comprises two post-doctoral projects and three PhD projects. See below for a link to the full programme description.
    The current opening is for: PhD/postdoc project in experimental psycholinguistics/formal semantics, starting date 1-4-2012 (negotiable).
    The project, supervised by Dr. Yoad Winter, develops and runs psycholinguistic experiments that check the effects of typicality on the interpretation of logical expressions. "Relational" concepts (e.g. 'see', 'touch') show complex typicality effects that interact with logical meanings. Three questions are addressed:

  • How can typicality effects with relational concepts be tested?
  • How can their effects on logical meanings be tested?
  •  In what way are these effects similar to the interpretation of  modification constructions like 'red hair'?
  • The project uses standard methods from experimental psychology/psycholinguistics, and is informed by recent development in formal semantic theory.
    For a more detailed project description:


    • Applicants should hold a PhD (completed one month prior to employment) in experimental psycholinguistics or experimental cognitive psychology, as well as demonstrated capacities as an independent experimental researcher, in the form of publications. 
    • Alternatively the applicant should hold a PhD in formal semantics, with an outstanding track record and interest in experimental research.
    • Interest in language (and preferably theoretical linguistics) is mandatory, as well as in mathematical methods in cognitive science. Either or both having a basic math/general scientific background and a demonstrable ability to work in a team work in a candidate's favour.

    The successful postdoc candidate is offered a 12 month contract as a postdoc with the possibility of renewal with one year maximum, after evaluation. The postdoc will work on the basis of 1.0 FTE (0.8 is an option) and receive a gross monthly salary in the range between € 2,977.- and maximum € 4,374.- per month on a full-time basis depending on experience and qualifications.
    We offer a pension scheme, a holiday allowance of 8% per year and flexible employment conditions. Conditions are based on the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities.
    UIL-OTS features a stimulating, innovative, and internationally oriented research environment which offers opportunities for a broad professional development. Courses are offered by internationally renowned experts, while possibilities for conference visiting are plentiful. We offer excellent experimental facilities and computational support.

    Utrecht University has developed into one of Europe’s largest and most prominent institutes for research and education. The faculty of Humanities, with nearly 7,000 students and nearly 900 staff members, offers an inspiring and dynamic working environment. Our research and education programmes focus on culture, history, arts, literature, media, language, philosophy and theology, covering the period from classical antiquity to the present day. We pay special attention to interdisciplinary and international collaboration, the use of new media, and high-quality teaching and research. The research programmes are organised in four institutes: (1) Research Institute for History and Culture (OGC), (2 Utrecht Institute of Linguistics OTS (UiL OTS), (3) ZENO Research Institute for Philosophy, (4) Research Institute for Theology and Religious Studies (INTEGON).
    The Utrecht University Graduate School of Humanities monitors and guarantees the outstanding quality of education programmes for Research Master and PhD students.
    The enthusiastic colleagues, the workplaces and excellent facilities provide a stimulating, professional atmosphere.
    About 130 researchers are affiliated to the UiL OTS, with 19 full professors, a dozen postdocs en roughly 50 PhD-researchers. The goal of the UiL OTS is to develop scientific expertise in the area of language and communication. UIL OTS features a stimulating, innovative, and internationally oriented research environment that offers opportunities for a broad professional development. We have excellent experimental facilities, including two EEG labs, several eye tracking labs, and access to MRI scanners via the Neuroscience & Cognition Utrecht focus area.

    For further information, please contact the programme leader at the UiL OTS, dr. Yoad Winter, e-mail Y dot Winter at uu dot nl, or the UiL-OTS PhD coordinator dr. Maaike Schoorlemmer, telephone +31-30-2536183, e-mail M dot Schoorlemmer at uu dot nl. You may also consult the UiL OTS website. The full programme description is available at:
    Other relevant links:
    Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics (LOT)
    The VICI program of NWO (The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research)

    Applications (via a dedicated university webpage) should include a letter of motivation, a curriculum vitae including contact and personal details, the contact details of two referees (names, affiliations and phone numbers or e-mail addresses), preferably: two reference letters, PhD thesis, one selected publication.
    Apply using the application form of Utrecht University via the link below.
    Interviews are planned from February 15 to 17, 2012

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