Research Opportunities

Our lab is a fast-paced and exciting environment that engages students from a wide range of Vanderbilt undergraduate and graduate programs and staff from diverse backgrounds.


Multiple Anticipated Positions in the Music, Social Engagement, and Development Workgroup in the Vanderbilt Music Cognition Lab, Nashville, TN (PI: MIriam Lense, PhD)

  • Research Analyst (Part or Full-Time)
  • Music Therapist (Part or Full-Time) *Note: combined music therapist/postdoctoral fellow position possible for candidates with both clinical and research training
  • Postdoctoral Fellow (Part or Full-Time)

Anticipated position starts: fall or winter 2022 
Positions require being on location in Nashville, TN

The Vanderbilt Music Cognition Lab anticipates multiple open positions for research studies on music and social interaction/communication in parents and young children (infants, toddlers, preschoolers with and without autism). Projects investigate the mechanisms by which musical activities impact parent-child relationships through lab-based, experimental studies and longitudinal psychoeducational parent-child music programming. Experimental methodologies include acoustics, movement dynamics, behavioral assessments and coding, day-long audio recordings, ecological momentary assessments (EMA), and eye-tracking. All positions require high attention to detail, comfort working with children and families, and willingness to learn new skills and be part of an interdisciplinary research team. For interested candidates, opportunities to work with clinical populations (ASD, Down syndrome) are available through ongoing research in the lab.

Both full-time and part-time positions are possible depending on interest and availability.

Research Analyst: The Research Analyst will contribute to and support ongoing research via data collection (including experimental tasks and standardized assessments), coding (including behavioral and/or speech coding/annotation), data analysis; participant recruitment and visit coordination; and other study-related tasks. Prior research experience, particularly with children/families, is preferred. Must be comfortable working with children including participating in children’s song and movement games/activities. Opportunities to be involved with multiple aspects of the research experience and contribute to data analysis, manuscript preparation and study dissemination. Prior experience in one or more of the above methodologies preferred. Background/degree in discipline of psychology, music cognition, music therapy, child studies, communication sciences, linguistics, neurosciences, or related field preferred.

Music Therapist: The music therapist will provide psychoeducational parent-child music sessions for neurotypical infants/toddlers/preschoolers (individual and group) and provide music-based therapy to autistic toddlers via direct clinician-administered intervention and via a parent coaching program. The music sessions and interventions are conducted as part of research studies and involve music-based naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions (NDBIs) for young children with autism. Therapist should have experience working with families of young children including children with autism and/or developmental disabilities; prior experience with parent psychoeducation and/or parent coaching is preferred. Opportunities to be involved with other aspects of the research experience (e.g., data collection, coding/analysis, study dissemination, study coordination) available and individualized to therapist’s interests and goals.

Postdoctoral fellow: The postdoctoral fellow will develop and carry out studies on music, social interaction, parenting, and child development. Strong data analysis and writing skills required and experience working with children/families preferred. Fellow will participate in data collection, data analysis, manuscript preparation, and research dissemination. Preference for experience in one or more of the methodologies listed above. Fellow will help supervise students in lab projects and have the opportunity to develop their own projects in parallel with ongoing research. Specific training opportunities will be individualized to the fellow’s interests and career goals. Position appropriate for fellows from variety of academic disciplines (e.g., psychology, communication sciences, music cognition, music therapy, neuroscience). As appropriate to the fellow's interest and experience, additional opportunities available to be involved in delivering music-based parenting programs for families of neurotypical children; and/or research interventions for children with ASD or Down syndrome.

The Music Cognition Lab is a fast-paced and exciting environment that engages students from a wide range of Vanderbilt undergraduate and graduate programs. Our collaborative relationships on campus include partnerships with Vanderbilt Kennedy Center/Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorder; Vanderbilt Brain Institute; and The Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy at Vanderbilt. We are a diverse lab and welcome applications from all individuals, including those from underrepresented groups in science. Vanderbilt University Medical Center in an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Employer.

Please contact Miriam Lense, PhD,, with a CV, statement of interest, and contact information for 2-3 professional references.

See more information about ongoing related research at:…



Additional open postdoc positions are listed here:

It is possible that Dr. Gordon will recruit an additional PhD student and/or postdoctoral trainee in the area of genetics of language and music ( If you have computer programming experience and an interest in this area, and would like to be notified about new opportunities for doctoral and postdoctoral training for this line of research, please send your CV to Please note that Dr. Gordon can supervise PhD students at Vanderbilt solely through the Neuroscience PhD program (and the IGP).

It is possible that Dr. Lense will recruit an additional PhD student and/or postdoctoral trainee in the area of rhythm, music, and social engagement, with an emphasis on autism and/or early caregiver-child interactions. If you have experiences and interests in this area, please send your CV to to be notified about new opportunities. Please note that Dr. Lense can supervise PhD students at Vanderbilt through the Neuroscience PhD program (and the IGP) and the Hearing and Speech Sciences PhD program.


The Music Cognition Lab engages highly-motivated and detail-oriented Vanderbilt undergraduate and graduate students for part-time Research Assistant positions (minimum commitment of 10 hours per week, plus at least one summer in the lab).

Research duties may include administering assessments of language, music, development, and cognitive skills in children, participant recruitment, data entry, data analysis, and development of new experimental paradigms. These lab experiences are intensive and students are expected to be reliable, organized, and know how to work both independently and in a group. Students will be pushed to learn and grow and to contribute significantly to our scientific program of research. If you are looking for research experience only to satisfy a degree requirement or a pre-graduate-school requirement, we are probably not for you. Students who have done well in our lab thus far have been from many different degree programs and backgrounds but share the following qualities: they are highly attentive to detail, have good problem-solving abilities, know how to take initiative and follow through, and are not afraid to learn new things.  Their good work is rewarded with opportunities to contribute to posters and journal articles, conference travel depending on funding availability, partial stipend, career mentorship, and the joy of being part of a close-knit community of young people who share a love of music and science.

Interested applicants should send a CV, writing sample, and a brief description of why they are interested in this research to Camila Alviar at , and please cc: Dr. Reyna Gordon ( and Dr. Miriam Lense (


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