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Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Position Number: 4976685
  • Location: Worcester, MA
  • Position Type: Science - Computer Science

Research Scientist


Computer Science NFR - JM

Worcester Polytechnic Institute - WPI

WPI seeks to hire a research scientist to join our research team, which includes faculty and students for the NIH-funded pain IMPACT project.

WPI is passionate about creating an inclusive workplace that promotes and values diversity. We are looking for candidates who can support our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.


Chronic pain impacts 50 million US adults and over-reliance on pain opioids has caused an epidemic in which 29% of chronic pain patients abuse opioids, 6% transition to heroin, and 130 people die daily from opioid overdose. Complementary, non-pharmacological pain treatments can reduce our country's reliance on opioids. However, while some complementary pain management methods, such as acupuncture and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction effectively reduce the pain of some patients, others do not respond. As clinicians lack objective tools to predict which patients will respond, many months and precious dollars are spent treating patients that may never respond. In collaboration with researchers at the Boston Medical Center (BMC) and UMass Medical School, our team is conducting research to develop AI models that utilize a combination of psychosocial, activity and neurobehavioral biomarkers extracted from sensor and questionnaire data, to predict which lower back pain patients will respond to MBSR. The AI will analyze the results of a series of pre-treatment tests on the patient. Our team will build off our prior work on AI models that detect pain from its disruptions of a patients' biorhythms (sleep-wake cycle) by analyzing data from commodity activity trackers such as Fitbit.

Responsibilities and Position Details:

Besides participating in research resulting in quality publications, the research scientist will also program data science frameworks to carry out machine/deep learning experiments at scale on live data, assist in managing and quality testing the project software project, coordinating the research of undergraduate and graduate students, managing and integrating project tasks across the team, and preparing project deliverables for the sponsor. Funding for the research data scientist position is available for 18 months; with a likely extension for a total of 4 years.

Example tasks to be undertaken the research data scientist include:

  • Feature engineering including circadian rhythm feature extraction from health tracker sensor and questionnaire data.

  • Statistical behavior analysis of typical pain vs. normal patients

  • Machine and deep learning of robust outliers from normal, healthy behavior

  • Unsupervised learning on high-dimensional data sets for group clustering

  • Inference of patient pain levels from objective sensor and questionnaire data.

  • Empirical study and evaluation of robustness of biomarker detectors

  • Systematic testing and documentation of research software

  • Project management for the team
  • Integration of student machine learning modules into a unified software infrastructure.

    Expected qualifications:
    • The ideal candidate will have at least a master's degree or preferably a PhD degree in computer science or a closely related field, with demonstrated experience in statistical analysis, signal processing, software development, machine learning, and deep learning, project management
    • An interest in interdisciplinary research in digital health, and a proven track record of high-quality research or project work, software development and academic excellence are expected.
    • Experience analyzing wearable or smartphone sensor signals is desirable but not necessary.
    • Excellent written and verbal communication in English is required.

    Founded in 1865, WPI is one of the nation's first technological universities. A highly selective private university located within an hour of Boston, WPI is consistently ranked among the top 70 research institutions by US News & World Report. The university is home to an innovative and intensive project-based curriculum that empowers students with the knowledge and skills to address real world problems around the globe, an approach repeatedly cited for excellence by The Fiske Guide to Colleges and The Princeton Review. Located in the heart of New England, WPI is surrounded by cultural and recreational opportunities. The UMass Medical Center, a large number of technology companies and many colleges and universities are in the immediate area making it ideal for two-career families. ''

    The deadline for applications is March 31, 2024, with applications continuing to be considered until the position is filled.

    To apply, please provide a cover letter, CV, a statement of research and project interests, and the names and contact information of three references. Questions can be addressed to: Professor Emmanuel Agu (

    United States of America (Exempt)

    WPI is an Equal Opportunity Employer that actively seeks to increase the diversity of its workplace. All qualified candidates will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran status, or disability. It seeks individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences who will contribute to a culture of creativity, collaboration, inclusion, problem solving, innovation, high performance, and change making. It is committed to maintaining a campus environment free of harassment and discrimination.

    To apply, visit:

    About WPI
    WPI is a vibrant, active, and diverse community of extraordinary students, world-renowned faculty, and state of the art research facilities. At WPI, we have competitive and comprehensive benefits, including health insurance, long-term care, retirement, tuition assistance, flexible spending accounts, work-life balance and much more.

    Diversity & Inclusion at WPI
    WPI is committed to creating an inclusive workplace where everyone feels valued and respected; a place where every student, faculty and staff member can be themselves, so that they can study, live, and work comfortably, to reach their full potential, and make meaningful contributions in order to meet departmental and institutional goals. WPI thrives on innovative practice and welcomes diverse perspectives, insight, and people from diverse lived experiences, to enhance the community environment and propel the institution to the next level in a competitive, global marketplace.

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