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Research Manager, Primals Project

University of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania, United States
Salary Not specified
Date posted
May 22, 2024

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Position Type
Administrative, Academic Affairs, Research Administration
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time

Job Details

Research Manager, Primals Project

University Overview

The University of Pennsylvania, the largest private employer in Philadelphia, is a world-renowned leader in education, research, and innovation. This historic, Ivy League school consistently ranks among the top 10 universities in the annual U.S. News & World Report survey. Penn has 12 highly-regarded schools that provide opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education, all influenced by Penn's distinctive interdisciplinary approach to scholarship and learning. As an employer Penn has been ranked nationally on many occasions with the most recent award from Forbes who named Penn one of America's Best Large Employers in 2023.

Penn offers a unique working environment within the city of Philadelphia. The University is situated on a beautiful urban campus, with easy access to a range of educational, cultural, and recreational activities. With its historical significance and landmarks, lively cultural offerings, and wide variety of atmospheres, Philadelphia is the perfect place to call home for work and play.

The University offers a competitive benefits package that includes excellent healthcare and tuition benefits for employees and their families, generous retirement benefits, a wide variety of professional development opportunities, supportive work and family benefits, a wealth of health and wellness programs and resources, and much more.

Posted Job Title
Research Manager, Primals Project

Job Profile Title
Research Coordinator Senior

Job Description Summary

The mission of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania is to promote research, education, and the dissemination of Positive Psychology. Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive.

We are looking for a can-do, entrepreneurial, team-oriented person to contribute in three main areas: (1) project management and research management of an empirical exploration of beliefs about the self (2) administrative support for current and emerging research on primal world beliefs and (3) development of new projects and funding streams that may emerge.

This is a good opportunity for someone passionate about primal world belief research, who is eager to make a difference, take on responsibilities in a fast-paced environment, develop scientific research skills (especially pertaining to mapping methodology), and grow in an evolving, dynamic role.

To learn about primal world beliefs:
To learn about our Center:

Job Description

The Primals Project studies humans' fundamental beliefs about the world (e.g. ‘the world is interesting') and the self (e.g. ‘I am interesting') and their psychological implications. From 2014 to 2019, Dr. Jer Clifton led a team of researchers in a five-year project to map primal world beliefs (also called primals). Since then, the focus has been developing this research space in clinical, personality, and other domains of psychology. Primals research is now flourishing, with dozens of investigations in labs around the world.

Looking forward, the Primals Project will adapt and reprise the mapping process for similarly basic beliefs about the self (e.g., ‘I am worthless,' ‘I am competent'). Self beliefs have been studied much more than world beliefs. However, the field suffers from disagreement about the main variables in the space. According to historian and philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn, this is a recipe for stagnation in science. The goal of the self beliefs effort would be to identify the best way of explaining the most variance in all self beliefs with the fewest dimensions (i.e., to answer the question empirically). This will require teams of researchers going through hundreds of the most influential texts in human history, analysis of tens of thousands of tweets, and many other activities adapted from the world beliefs process.

Our team seeks a Research Manager to coordinate this complex, multi-part mapping process, under the direct supervision of Primals Project Director, Dr. Clifton. In addition, the Research Manager would support ongoing primal world belief research and develop new projects and funding opportunities that emerge in the course of this work. There is potential for this position to expand based on the interests, strengths, and passions of the individual hired, and for an entrepreneurial candidate to develop various opportunities and funding streams as they arise, to grow the Primals Project in new directions. No background in psychological science is required. This role is a good opportunity for individuals interested in developing research and project management skills.

  • Manage a complex, multi-faceted project to map self beliefs, including communicating with numerous research collaborators, ensuring close adherence to timelines, supervising undergraduate research assistants, and organizing project outputs.

  • Encourage and facilitate ongoing research on primal world beliefs, both internal and external. Support research staff by drafting or proofreading surveys, copyediting manuscripts, running research participants, conducting literature reviews and drafting IRB protocols. Support external collaborators by facilitating communication with project staff, reviewing translations of the primals survey, fielding basic questions about data collection, analysis and interpretation, and providing encouragement for timely completion of independent studies.

  • Oversee all financial administration of the project, with support from colleagues in the business office. Track expenses and make budgetary projections as needed; book travel and process expense reimbursements for project personnel; use policy-compliant modes of procurement for research materials and services; and facilitate subaward disbursement to compensate research collaborators.

  • Record the benchmark accomplishments and special achievements of the project and its personnel, and communicate these to the project sponsor in quarterly progress reports. Oversee annual financial reporting to sponsor.

  • As capacity allows, promote new research and project achievements to both lay and scientific audiences, including through social media, blog posts, website updates, and an email newsletter. Coordinate public-facing speaking engagements and interview requests for the Project Director. Record all media highlighting primals research or project staff, and cultivate a list of journalists who cover this topic.

  • Support the Project Director in identifying and applying to new funding opportunities.

  • Coordinate meetings and conference presentations, including monthly lab meetings.

  • Assist Project Director as needed in achieving the goals of the project.

Targeted Pay Range: $50,000 to $63,000

This Targeted Pay Range is only applicable to this job posting. All salary offers are made based on the candidate's qualifications, experience, skills, and education as they directly relate to the requirements of the position, as well as internal and market factors and grade profile.

Hybrid Eligible: This position is eligible for a hybrid work schedule with a work week divided between working onsite and working remotely.


  • Bachelor's degree is required. A background in psychology is preferred.
  • 3 to 5 years of relevant professional experience, including research studies experience, project management, administrative support.
  • A resume and cover letter is required.


  • Excellent organizing abilities, with a strong attention to detail and process.
  • Proven ability to plan, manage, and prioritize multiple projects simultaneously in a fast-paced environment and meet deadlines.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Proven ability to thrive under time pressure and workload.
  • Strong competence in MS Office and Google Suite.
  • Familiarity with Penn tools and systems such as Concur, Penn Marketplace, Qualtrics, HSERA (Penn's IRB platform), Research Inventory System, PaymentNet (for Purchasing Card processing), and iPenn (Penn's visa request platform) or similar are a plus, but not required.


  • Strong sense of mission and interest in primal world belief research, as well as self belief research, the methodologies used to empirically map these spaces, and positive psychology.
  • Motivated to take initiative and responsibility for the success of a project.
  • Patience and persistence in navigating institutional processes to secure necessary outcomes.
  • High standard of professionalism, excellence, and accountability.
  • Proven ability to work both independently and as a collaborative member of a team.

This position is contingent upon grant funding.

Job Location - City, State
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Department / School
School of Arts and Sciences

Pay Range
$43,919.00 - $63,000.00 Annual Rate
Salary offers are made based on the candidate's qualifications, experience, skills, and education as they directly relate to the requirements of the position, as well as internal and market factors and grade profile.

Affirmative Action Statement
Penn adheres to a policy that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, national or ethnic origin, citizenship status, age, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected class.

Special Requirements
Background check required after a conditional job offer is made. Consideration of the background check will be tailored to the requirements of the job.

University Benefits
  • Health, Life, and Flexible Spending Accounts: Penn offers comprehensive medical, prescription, behavioral health, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits to protect you and your family's health and welfare. You can also use flexible spending accounts to pay for eligible health care and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars.
  • Tuition: Take advantage of Penn's exceptional tuition benefits. You, your spouse, and your dependent children can get tuition assistance here at Penn. Your dependent children are also eligible for tuition assistance at other institutions.
  • Retirement: Penn offers generous retirement plans to help you save for your future. Penn's Basic, Matching, and Supplemental retirement plans allow you to save for retirement on a pre-tax or Roth basis. Choose from a wide variety of investment options through TIAA and Vanguard.
  • Time Away from Work: Penn provides you with a substantial amount of time away from work during the course of the year. This allows you to relax, take vacations, attend to personal affairs, recover from illness or injury, spend time with family—whatever your personal needs may be.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: In partnership with Genworth Financial, Penn offers faculty and staff (and your eligible family members) long-term care insurance to help you cover some of the costs of long-term care services received at home, in the community or in a nursing facility. If you apply when you're newly hired, you won't have to provide proof of good health or be subject to underwriting requirements. Eligible family members must always provide proof of good health and are subject to underwriting.
  • Wellness and Work-life Resources: Penn is committed to supporting our faculty and staff as they balance the competing demands of work and personal life. That's why we offer a wide variety of programs and resources to help you care for your health, your family, and your work-life balance.
  • Professional and Personal Development: Penn provides an array of resources to help you advance yourself personally and professionally.
  • University Resources: As a member of the Penn community, you have access to a wide range of University resources as well as cultural and recreational activities. Take advantage of the University's libraries and athletic facilities, or visit our arboretum and art galleries. There's always something going on at Penn, whether it's a new exhibit at the Penn Museum, the latest music or theater presentation at the Annenberg Center, or the Penn Relays at Franklin Field to name just a few examples. As a member of the Penn community, you're right in the middle of the excitement—and you and your family can enjoy many of these activities for free.
  • Discounts and Special Services: From arts and entertainment to transportation and mortgages, you'll find great deals for University faculty and staff. Not only do Penn arts and cultural centers and museums offer free and discounted admission and memberships to faculty and staff. You can also enjoy substantial savings on other goods and services such as new cars from Ford and General Motors, cellular phone service plans, movie tickets, and admission to theme parks.
  • Flexible Work Hours: Flexible work options offer creative approaches for completing work while promoting balance between work and personal commitments. These approaches involve use of non-traditional work hours, locations, and/or job structures.
  • Penn Home Ownership Services: Penn offers a forgivable loan for eligible employees interested in buying a home or currently residing in West Philadelphia, which can be used for closing costs or home improvements.
  • Adoption Assistance: Penn will reimburse eligible employees on qualified expenses in connection with the legal adoption of an eligible child, such as travel or court fees, for up to two adoptions in your household.

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