The Training Program in Emotion Research is directed by Dr. Richard J. Davidson and funded by a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Institutional National Research Service Award training grant. The program provides specialized, non-degree training for University of Wisconsin-Madison students at the pre and post-doctoral levels. A total of three (3) pre-doctoral students are supported by the grant in any given year. In addition, two (2) post-doctoral trainees are supported each year.

The major activities of the training program include participation in the annual Wisconsin Symposium on Emotion, attendance at monthly meetings of faculty and students on topics in emotion research, ethics training, as well as other relevant activities on campus. Please contact the Training Program in Emotion Research Administrator, Jane Lambert, at for more information.

We look for diverse candidates with strong potential for future academic success, whose research interests are well aligned with those of the program and the desired faculty mentor.

Program Research Areas & Faculty

Our training program is focused on four areas of current emotion research:

  1. Personality, temperament, and individual and cultural differences: Lifespan developmental, genetic, cognitive and biological approaches, and human-computer interaction;
  2. Affective neuroscience;
  3. Emotion, health, and well-being; and
  4. Emotion and psychopathology.

Trainees may work with any of the following faculty: Lyn Y. Abramson, Reid S. AlischJohn J. Curtin, Richard J. DavidsonSimon B. Goldberg, Diane C. Gooding, Dan Grupe, Ryan J. Herringa, Ned H. Kalin, Michael R. Koenigs, James J. Li, Bilge Mutlu, Paula M. Niedenthal, Seth D. Pollak, Melissa A. Rosenkranz, Carol D. RyffSarah J. Short, Alvin Thomas, Katie L. Walsh and Earlise C. Ward.

Post-doctoral Applicants

The NIMH-funded T32 Training Program in Emotion Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will have one post-doctoral training position starting in Fall 2024 with up to three years of support. Applications are due on Friday, February 2, 2024.

The following is a list of faculty who desire post-doctoral candidates:

Dr. Dan Grupe leads the Mindful Justice Research Collective at the Center for Healthy Minds, working with community partners to study the impact of mindfulness and related contemplative practices for individuals involved in the criminal legal system. Dan is seeking a post-doctoral trainee interested in community-engaged scholarship, qualitative and mixed methods research, trauma-informed mindfulness interventions, incarceration and reentry, and systems transformation to contribute to projects with system-impacted individuals and law enforcement officers. Individuals personally impacted by the criminal legal system are especially encouraged to apply.

Dr. Ryan Herringa: The BRAVE Research Center focuses on neurodevelopmental mechanisms of risk and resilience in youth following trauma.  Current R01-funded studies include 1) a longitudinal neuroimaging study examining maltreatment-related trajectories in adolescent affective disorders, 2) neurobehavioral mechanisms of parent-child fear learning and extinction in pediatric PTSD.  Candidates with interest and experience in neuroimaging analyses and advanced analytical skills such as machine learning will be strongly considered.

Dr. James Li: Research in the Social and Behavioral Development lab integrates clinical, developmental, dimensional (i.e., HiTOP), and diversity science perspectives to study the mechanisms of neurodevelopmental and externalizing conditions, features, and behaviors, including ADHD and autism, as well as conduct and substance use problems. Trainees in the lab gain exposure to many valuable and cutting-edge methods, including genomics (GWAS, GenomicSEM, polygenic scores), advanced forms of structural equation modeling (e.g., growth mixture modeling, latent profile analysis, bifactor analyses), and neuroimaging. In addition to leveraging existing large-scale datasets (e.g., ABCD, Add Health, WLS, PNC), we also collect novel data through an NICHD P50-funded longitudinal research study – the UW Longitudinal Imaging in Kids Study – that aims to examine the behavioral, cognitive, genetic, and neural mechanisms underlying the co-occurrence of ADHD and autism. We are specifically interested in recruiting postdocs with experience or interests in clinical and diversity science, advanced statistical skills (e.g., longitudinal analysis), and genomics. 

Dr. Seth Pollak: Members of the Child Emotion Research Lab are interested in understanding how emotions develop and factors that affect children’s socio-emotional learning, health, and well-being. Our experiments employ physiological, behavioral, and computational methods and address issues, including processes of typical development, early life stress/adversity exposure, and family poverty.

Dr. Sarah Short and Dr. Rasmus Birn: The Brain and Early Experience (BEE) longitudinal study will be analyzing data looking at the impact of poverty on infants’ structural and functional brain development. This study examines the link between poverty on early behavioral development and later emergence of executive functions (cognitive processes that facilitate learning, self-monitoring, and decision making). Among numerous study measures, neuroimaging has been conducted with infants at two time points: at 2 weeks and 30 months old. An additional third scan is scheduled at 5 years of age. The primary focus of this work is to examine relations between infants’ brain development, their home environment, and the emergence of executive functions and social/emotional skills in early childhood.

Dr. Christine Wilson-Mendenhall and Dr. Richard Davidson are recruiting a post-doctoral researcher to conduct research in partnership with the Loka Initiative. The Loka Initiative, directed by Dekila Chungyalpa, is an interdisciplinary capacity-building and outreach platform at UW-Madison that works with faith leaders and culture keepers of Indigenous traditions on environmental and climate issues. The research we are pursuing together focuses on addressing eco-anxiety and climate distress and is centered upon people who are at the frontlines of environmental and climate impacts—those who bear the worst consequences of environmental crises (e.g., young people, Indigenous peoples, communities of color) and those deeply engaged in environmental work and ways of being. A current area of emphasis is using a mixed methods approach to understand the impacts of a new course offering designed to nurture emotional resilience for navigating eco-anxiety and climate distress. This work also includes an interdisciplinary theoretical focus on integrating inner, community, and planetary well-being.


Please send the following items by Friday, February 2, 2024, to the Training Program in Emotion Research Administrator, Jane Lambert, at

  1. Cover letter: Identify the program faculty member(s) with whom you wish to train.
  2. CV
  3. Research Statement
  4. Three letters of reference (These can be submitted separately by the letter writers themselves and will be accepted until Thursday, February 8th.)

Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible to apply. We are an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer.

Pre-doctoral Information

UW-Madison faculty can nominate pre-doctoral students for the program, but pre-doctoral students cannot apply directly to the program themselves.

Pre-doctoral nominees must apply to or be enrolled in a degree-granting graduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. If your application is seriously considered by a program faculty member, he or she may decide to nominate you for consideration by the selection committee by contacting the Training Program in Emotion Research Administrator, Jane Lambert, at If you are interested in participating in the program, be sure to discuss this with your prospective advisor.

According to federal funding regulations, in order to be eligible for support, all applicants must be U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, or lawfully admitted permanent residents. Individuals on temporary or student visas are not eligible for financial support.


This program is supported by NIMH grant 5T32MH018931, with additional funding from the University of Wisconsin–Madison Graduate School.