Research Scientist

Job Description

USC’s Information Sciences Institute (ISI), a unit of the university’s Viterbi School of Engineering, is a world leader in the research and development of advanced artificial intelligence, information processing, high-performance computing, computer hardware design and manufacturing, cybersecurity, and communications and networking technologies. ISI’s 400 faculty, professional staff and graduate students carry out transformative research at three distinct locations - Marina Del Rey, CA; Arlington, VA; and Waltham, MA.

*This position is located in Marina del Rey, CA. Hybrid work schedule is an option.*

ISI is looking for a Research Scientist for its Artificial Intelligence Division. We are looking for highly motivated, talented, and ambitious researchers to design and lead research in the area of computational social science.

The candidate will work in a team to develop techniques and tools to detect, characterize, and track geopolitical influence campaigns and associated social media manipulation efforts. Also, the candidate will be leading a team to design computational approaches for evaluating the impact of moderation policies and crafting effective regulatory interventions to mitigate online harms in information ecosystems. The candidate will be in charge of the design and development of machine learning models, collection and analysis of massive-scale datasets, leading and contributing to project proposals, publications, presentations, technical manuscripts, and reports. Furthermore, the candidate will have a demonstrated ability to initiate and lead a research agenda, propose innovative, creative solutions to tackle critical problems, and work with research leaders within ISI and beyond, showing the promise to become an active and leading figure in the institute and within the research community. 


  • Serves as a key research scientist who is recognized as an authority on topics in specialized field. Plans, designs and conducts highly specialized, technical and unusually complex research projects independently. Works under consultative direction from supervisor toward long-range goals and objectives. Exercises considerable latitude in determining research objectives and approaches. May contribute to the development of advanced concepts, techniques and standards.
  • Identifies, researches, compiles and evaluates public data sources, open source software libraries, background information and/or technology related to area of specialization.
  • Analyzes and evaluates research data utilizing computers and provides interpretations requiring significant knowledge of a specialized area of research. Searches literature, utilizing all available resources including electronic, regarding new methodology and designs experiments accordingly.
  • Develops solutions to wide-range of research problems, often cutting across disciplinary boundaries, which require a high degree of ingenuity, creativity and innovativeness. Creates or modifies methods and techniques for obtaining solutions. Ensures solutions are consistent with research objectives.
  • Develops research documentation for publication alone or with others and/or prepares technical reports, papers and/or records that show independent thinking and leadership in scholarly writing.
  • Makes presentations at academic and/or practitioner conferences. May participate in community meetings to develop research priorities for the field.
  • Provides leadership, direction and guidance to staff and/or student workers.


  • Ph.D. in computer science, or closely related fields, and postdoctoral research experience of ideally at 2+ years. 
  • Research interest and a rich publication record in computational social science, machine learning, and data science, in top conferences and journals in the field, with evidence of impact; 
  • Mastery of the state of the art in AI technologies, including but not limited to supervised and unsupervised machine learning, deep learning, reinforcement learning, NLP, data and network sciences;
  • Expert level understanding of problems as social media abuse and manipulation, misinformation, influence operations, conspiracy and radicalization, detection of deceptive activity and orchestrated campaigns, content moderation and media policy; 
  • Ability to work independently, and demonstrated evidence of meeting deadlines for deliverables; experience with mentoring and supervising master and phd students is a plus.
  • Leadership and mentoring skills to coordinate teams and projects within research programs (e.g., NSF, DARPA, etc.); prior experience and engagement with large DARPA project is a plus.
  • Experiences in leading and contributing to research proposals, from their design to the negotiations with stakeholders.
  • Commitment to and prior evidence of service in the broader academic community, and potential interest in teaching opportunities are a plus.

The ideal candidate will contribute to a diverse and inclusive environment and will have the intellectual freedom, and initiative, to explore questions at the intersection of AI and computational social science, with an interdisciplinary perspective and broad applicability to domains spanning psychology, social science, media and internet governance, public health, politics, and more. 

The annual base salary range for this position is $100,973 - $125,000. When extending an offer of employment, the University of Southern California considers factors such as (but not limited to) the scope and responsibilities of the position, the candidate’s work experience, education/training, key skills, internal peer equity, federal, state and local laws, contractual stipulations, grant funding, as well as external market and organizational considerations.

The University of Southern California values diversity and is committed to equal opportunity in employment.

Minimum Education: Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate Minimum Experience: 5 years Minimum Field of Expertise: Directly related education and experience in research specialization with highly advanced knowledge of equipment, procedures, analysis methods, principles, theories and concepts. Demonstrated leadership in developing new ideas and ability to publish in appropriate academic and practitioner outlets. Demonstrated independent thinking and leadership in scholarly writing according to such criteria as: first authored publications, conceptual leadership in the development of publications generated alone or with others, writing of first drafts of publications and/or single authored publications.

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