Questions about available positions should be directed to Dr. Tommy Sprague.

Tommy Sprague
Psychological & Brain Sciences

Joining the Lab

The Perception, Cognition and Action Lab, directed by Tommy Sprague, Ph.D, is recruiting its first generation of scientists.

The Lab is committed to providing world-class training in thoughtful experiment design, computational approaches to modeling and analyzing neural and behavioral data, and effective communication of scientific results.

We are committed to open and reproducible science, and to fostering a collegial and friendly atmosphere for scientific exploration and training. We believe that science is better when we all work together, and when diverse voices join forces to tackle exciting and important problems in cognitive computational neuroscience.

The ideal trainee would bring computational skills in a programming environment they feel comfortable with, be willing and excited to learn new analysis and data acquisition techniques, find gratification in trying new and challenging experiments, and be an enthusiastic problem-solver. Dr. Sprague has a strong background in MATLAB, so can most effectively train students using that environment, but any computational background is welcome (Python, Julia, MATLAB, Java tend to be the most useful, but once you’ve learned one language, the next one is much easier).

When positions are not available, you are still welcome to get in touch to learn more about the lab - see instructions below. Dr. Sprague is also available to meet at conferences.

Graduate Studies

The lab trains students via the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at UCSB. For information about the graduate program, including application information, see here

Information about PhD opportunities for Fall 2023 will be posted when available.

Interested students should email PI Tommy Sprague directly. Please send a brief description of your background, research/academic experience, and research interests, as well as a resume or CV. Dr. Sprague is happy to provide further information about the lab and our planned research goals.

Postdoctoral Fellows

The lab is not currently recruiting a postdoctoral fellow, but information will be posted here when a recruitment begins. The lab always encourages interested candidates to contact PI Tommy Sprague to discuss their potential fit for future positions that may become available.

Research Specialist

The Sprague Laboratory within the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara invites applications for an open, full-time Junior Specialist position, with an anticipated start date of November 1, 2022 or later. The salary is based on UCSB’s salary scales.

The laboratory is looking for an exceptional individual with particular emphasis in the area of Vision Science and Computational Cognitive Neuroscience. Under the direction of Dr. Thomas Sprague, the Perception, Cognition and Action Laboratory seeks to understand the neural mechanisms underlying behaviors related to visual spatial cognition, including visual attention, working memory, and the guidance of eye movements, using techniques including computational neuroimaging, EEG, and eye tracking.

Duties: Responsibilities of the Junior Specialist will include engaging in specialized research associated with ongoing projects, including behavioral, eyetracking, and neuroimaging studies interrogating the neural mechanisms of visual spatial cognition. The Junior Specialist will assist with recruiting, organizing, and scheduling participants, conducting literature reviews, developing/programming experiments, acquiring and analyzing data (behavioral, eyetracking, fMRI, EEG), and preparing results for presentation. The Junior Specialist will also assist with training of research volunteers, and managing research protocols.

The Department is especially interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity and excellence of the academic community through research, teaching and service appropriate to the position.


Basic qualifications (required at time of application)

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent degree in psychology or a related field (neuroscience, computer science, applied mathematics, biology, etc.) by the time of application.

Additional qualifications (required at time of start)

-Will have a demonstrated record of academic excellence as evidenced by outstanding grades in relevant courses (major GPA of 3.0 or higher).
-Demonstrated potential for excellence in research as evidenced by previous laboratory experience or research assistant positions (6+ months duration).

Preferred qualifications

Preferred candidates will have a major GPA of 3.5 or higher, experience with programming tools (UNIX, bash, MATLAB/Python programming), a strong college math background (linear algebra), and previous research experience with human subjects (1 or more years).


Document requirements

Curriculum Vitae - Your most recently updated C.V.

Cover Letter - Please include a brief description of research interests

Statement of Contributions to Diversity (Optional) - Statement addressing past and/or potential contributions to diversity through research and/or service. Submission of this statement is strongly encouraged

Undergraduate Transcripts


Reference requirements

3 required (contact information only)


We will inform all candidates under serious consideration that their references will be contacted beforehand

Apply link:

Help contact:


The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

As a condition of employment, you will be required to comply with the University of California SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Policy: All Covered Individuals under the policy must provide proof of Full Vaccination or, if applicable, submit a request for Exception (based on Medical Exemption, Disability, and/or Religious Objection) or Deferral (based on pregnancy) no later than the applicable deadline. Please refer to Appendix F, Section II.C. of the policy for the deadlines applicable to new University of California employees. (Capitalized terms in this paragraph are defined in the policy.) Federal, state, or local public health directives may impose additional requirements.


Santa Barbara, CA



Open date: September 26th, 2022

Next review date: Saturday, Oct 15, 2022 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)
Apply by this date to ensure full consideration by the committee.

Final date: Friday, Mar 31, 2023 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)
Applications will continue to be accepted until this date, but those received after the review date will only be considered if the position has not yet been filled.


Undergraduate Research Assistants

The Sprague Lab considers applications from motivated, meticulous, and reliable volunteer research assistants to help with running behavioral, eyetracking, and EEG experiments. Opportunities are available for further training, including independent research projects. This is a great way to gain research experience before applying to post-baccalaureate research programs or PhD programs. Typically, research assistants are supervised directly by PhD students, so the availability of positions depends on the needs of each PhD student each quarter. 

To be considered for a volunteer position, submit an application here. Applications are reviewed quarterly (typically the last week of the quarter), and you'll be contacted if we'd like to conduct a follow-up interview. In the questions in the application, try to address how training in the lab will help further your career goals, and emphasize any unique skills you might bring to the group (e.g., programming, statistics, modeling, etc). 

Unfortunately, more students will apply than we have room for, and we cannot take new students every quarter. 

What to know when contacting Dr. Sprague

Dr. Sprague is happy to meet informally, either in-person at UCSB, at conferences, or over teleconference software, to discuss available opportunities and provide advice about how to structure a successful application. It’s most helpful to include a brief description of your background, why you’re interested in a given opportunity, a statement of your research interests, and what you believe makes you especially qualified compared to other candidates. Including a resume or CV can also be useful.

Admission to the lab is competitive, and while all qualified candidates will be given equal consideration, not all can be offered positions.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic by law.