Computer Science Department, University of Chicago
Background: We are always looking for exceptional students at the intersection of Computer Science / Human-Computer Interaction but also, Electrical Engineering, Neuroscience, Physics, Materials Science, and Mechanical Engineering. You do not need prior publications to apply to our lab, but you need to like doing research. You can demonstrate your liking of science/research using projects you did, tools you built, circuits you made, etc. If you are interested in applying, read all the information below carefully.
Topics/expertise: We are a lab that investigates many sides of HCI, but we focus heavily on hardware (e.g., engineering wearable devices, creating new mechanical actuators, fabricating new materials) and perception (e.g., uncovering new illusions, studying electrical stimulation). Thus, for most positions, you will need to have some skills in hardware building, not just software.
We accept applications for: PhD, Postdoc, Predoctoral students (a type of master's program that prepares you for a PhD), Visiting PhD students (PhD interns), undergraduate interns (from UChicago and summer interns from elsewhere), and high school students.
For all positions:
1. Send us an email to apply-at-uchicago.edu with your portfolio and CV.
2. Your portfolio (which preferably is a website) must show documentation of the projects you are most proud of (video documentation). We are especially looking for technical projects that involve: hardware or circuitry, videos of your VR/AR work, wearables, or other interactive devices (e.g., robotics) you engineered.
2. Your CV should state also which level of expertise you have in the areas that are crucial for our lab: have you built your own circuits, do you write control loops, do you do more hardware than software, etc.
4. Our lab is most suited for folks with some experience and/or skills related to HCI, electrical engineering, material science, neuroscience, or mechanical engineering--note the work we do is more hardware-intensive than software-related.
5. Read our research interests carefully, if you are unsure about the fit, send a short email first before applying.
2. We receive hundreds of emails about PhD applicants and we might not be able to reply to all emails individually. Thus, if you want to be considered to work with our lab as a PhD student, please apply here.
3. You cannot apply for a PhD position past the deadline
4. Make sure you did all the 5 steps above ("For any position"), this is extremely important for PhD applicants. This is of course not mandatory, you can simply apply to UChicago CS and we will see your application as long as you indicate "Prof. Pedro Lopes" as one of your faculty interests.
For Pre-Doc (Master's) applications:
1. UChicago Computer Science offers a Master's program, which includes a track called Predoctoral program. You can apply to this program if you are interested in obtaining more experience in HCI and CS prior to applying to PhD programs. We love working with Pre-Docs too!
2. You should note the specific deadlines of this program here. No applications after the deadline can be considered.
3. Make sure to follow the five steps at the top of this page, including CV and portfolio. These are not mandatory, since we will see your application as long as you select Prof. Pedro Lopes as your faculty interest/mentor for the PreDoc.
4. This PreDoc program includes courses too, which is a great way to prepare you for a journey in a CS PhD. Check all the program's details before applying.
5. Where are our PreDocs now? Consult our Alumni page for all details, but we leave you with the example of Yujie Tao, who was our PreDoc and went to do her PhD at Stanford after that, or Zoe Liu who went to become an HCI engineer at Apple.
For PostDoc applications:
1. There is no portal for this type of application, thus you need to email us directly.
2. Check the five steps in the first list, these are critical for a postdoctoral application.
3. Additionally, we will ask you for two names of researchers that can serve as letters of recommendation (only requested if we decide to proceed with your application).
4. You should note that PostDocs are the most complex of cases for our lab since they require us to have specific funds for it, which is not always the case. Sometimes, candidates have also their own fellowships or funding sources that can facilitate cases in which we do not have PostDoc-specific funds. For instance, the NSF has specific offers for postdocs or you can consider our DSI postdoc fellowship. International students can also consult with their own governmental postdoc fellowships, such as the JSPS (Japan) or Marie Curie (Europe).
5. Where are our PostDocs now? Consult our Alumni page for all details, but we leave you with the example of Jun Nishida, who was our PostDoc and went on to become an Assistant Professor of CS at the University of Maryland after that.
For an internship during your PhD:
1. If you are applying for a PhD internship you must have previous experience in our areas of work.
2. PhD Internships follow the UChicago Non-degree visiting student status and will need to follow these rules.
4. Most PhD-level internships in our lab take the duration of one quarter (3 months) and occasionally two quarters (6 months).
5. We will likely email your PhD advisor for a letter of recommendation during your application.
6. Where are our PhD interns now? Consult our Alumni page for all details, but we leave you with the example of Steven Nagels, who was our PhD intern and went to found an electronics company after that.
2. There are three ways to work in the lab: (1) for credit (reading and research course); (2) with a fellowship (we often have fellowships for undergraduates); or (3) as a paid-RA. Note that you cannot work with us for academic credit and, simultaneously, be paid (UChicago rule). We advise new interns to start with a "Reading and Research" course for a quarter, which allows you to sample the experience of working in our lab while getting credit for it. If you love it (most do!), you can continue with the other options.
3. We know that looking at our research page might feel overwhelming before you try to do research, but do not be shy and email us if you are curious about applying (we often invite undergraduates to sit in a lab meeting and see what we are up to).
4. Where are our UChicago undergraduates now? Consult our Alumni page for all details, but we leave you with the example of Noor Amin, who was our undergraduate intern and now is a game developer at Riot Games, or our undergraduate intern Beza Desta, who is now a graduate at Princeton, studying HCI.
For non-UChicago undergraduate interns:
1. We usually take undergraduate interns (non-UChicago) in the summer, typically via a fellowship .
3. or the Data Science Summer Lab (available for anyone, international, and your school does not need to be part of the previous list).
4. Or, it is also possible to join us via an NSF REU or simply interning at the lab; however, both the Student Summer Research Fellowship Program and the DSI internships are more established and recommended routes.
5. Where are our non-UChicago interns now? Consult our Alumni page for all the details, but we leave you with the example of Arata Jingu, who was our undergraduate intern and now is a PhD student at Saarland University.
For high school students:
1. Yes, it is possible to work in our lab during your high school years. What an amazing way to explore your career options as a researcher in HCI!
2. You need to check with your high school first. Do they have a program where you can get credit during school hours? Do they allow you to spend a day a week at the lab? Or will you do this after hours (less recommended)?
5. Follow the five steps at the beginning of this page and contact us via email.
6. Where are our high school interns now? Consult our Alumni page for all details, but we leave you with the example of Eva Tuecke, who was our high school intern and now is a student at Harvard University.