First listed on: 11 March 2020


Associate/Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Infant Speech Perception and Language Acquisition, MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development 

The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development is seeking to appoint an outstanding and innovative scholar with a relevant PhD or the imminent award of a relevant PhD to work on a new ARC Discovery Grant “Origins of Phonology and Lexicon (OPAL): Abstract representations before 6 months”. The successful applicant will work with project investigators - Denis Burnham, Catherine Best, Anne Cutler (MARCS Institute); Elizabeth Johnson (U Toronto Mississauga); Marina Kalashnikova (Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language). The project is fuelled by recent evidence that phonological abstraction begins before 3 months, and that carer-infant conversations are vital to development. The main study is a longitudinal experiment on the relationship between infants’ early (1-7 months) phonological abstraction, their later phonological abstraction (7-18 months), their later language skills, and how these relate to properties of the speech directed to them (infant-directed speech, IDS). Other spin-off longitudinal and cross-sectional studies are encouraged.

The Fellow will work with the OPAL team in the MARCS BabyLab (in the Speech and Language research program) to develop, apply, and analyse the results of new tests of early, and established tests of later phonological abstraction using behavioural (habituation, eye-movement (TOBII)) and neurophysiological (EEG) methods; oversee collection and analysis of IDS (vowel hyperarticulation, vowel dispersion, words spoken, conversational turns); work with and co-supervise a PhD student, research assistants, and Honours students and research interns.

The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development is an interdisciplinary research institute of Western Sydney University. The Institute’s vision is to optimise human interaction and wellbeing across the lifespan by addressing problems in sensing and perceiving, interacting with each other, and technologies for humans. Researchers in MARCS come from many disciplines including cognitive science, developmental psychology, language science, music science, cognitive neuroscience, and biomedical, electrical, electronic, neuromorphic, and software engineering. The Institute consists of three Research Areas: Brain Sciences (Speech & Language; Multisensory Communication; Music Cognition & Action research programs), Biomedical and Human Technologies (Biomedical Engineering; Human Machine Interaction research programs), and The International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems.

Working at Western Sydney University means you’ll be part of an organisation that’s ranked in the top 2% of universities worldwide and is a research leader – with 85% of the University’s research being at or above world standard. We understand the key to your success is unlocking your true potential – just as we do with our students. Our 3,000 staff members work together to enable a dynamic, inclusive and innovative culture that is distinctly research-driven and student-centred. The University is deeply embedded in the community and the region we serve, which is Australia’s fastest growing economy and one of the most culturally diverse areas in Australia. Our 10 campuses include a hybrid network of technology-infused vertical CBD campuses and more traditional campuses across Western Sydney. We take pride in challenging the traditional notion of what a university ‘should’ be and are dedicated to ensuring our 45,000 students enjoy the best and most dynamic learning experience possible. From our forward-focused reworking of our teaching methodologies to connecting our learning hubs with industry, we are equipping our students with real-world learning experiences and future employment. With more than 180,000 highly-respected alumni – including 20,000 working across 128 countries – we are ranked the highest university in NSW for graduate employer satisfaction. Join us as we shape the future of Western Sydney.

Further information is available from our website

This is a full-time, fixed-term position for 3 years based at our BabyLabs at Bankstown and Westmead Campuses.

Remuneration Package: Academic Level A $96,777 to $116,921 (comprising salary $81,778 to $98,800 p.a., plus Superannuation and Leave Loading).

Position Enquiries: Professor Denis Burnham, + 61 2 9772 6681 or via email

Closing Date: 8:30pm, 31 May 2020.

Full details on how to apply for these positions can be found at our website. Western Sydney University values workplace diversity.

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