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Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Disney Research Imagineering

Apply NowApply Later Job ID 10006401 Location Glendale, California, United States Business Walt Disney Imagineering Date posted Jul. 12, 2022 Flex Type On-Site

- This role is considered on-site, which means the employee will work from a Company designated location on an ongoing basis.

Job Summary:

“Any sufficiently complex technology is indistinguishable from magic.” - Arthur C Clarke

The Team

In a time where children carry devices with AI in their pockets, robots deliver fast food meals, and other science fictions have become mundane reality, we need new magic: new ways to connect with our guests, to surprise them, make them smile, and open their minds to magic - not just in our parks and resorts, but everywhere in the world.

At Disney Research Imagineering this emerges from the application of bleeding-edge science to everything from enabling new guest-facing experiences in the parks to assisting cast members and transforming critical business processes.

We focus on new ideas and ways of thinking, working to solve the biggest challenges that are otherwise unsolvable without a deep understanding of both the complexities of the Disney business, and the opportunities afforded by bleeding-edge scientific exploration and application.

Our work is centered on 4 key areas:

  • Character Intelligence
  • Guest Understanding
  • Computational Robotics
  • Interactive Immersion

And is organized around core platforms that enable rapid integration, evaluation, communication, and translation of research concepts and results to the business.

The Role

We are looking for skilled applied scientists who are passionate about their field of expertise and want to use their domain knowledge to create magic for our guests and fellow cast members.

As a member of Disney Research Imagineering you will be part of a team that defines and maintains a vision of the future enabled by a melding of deep science with profound artistry. You will seek to realize this vision within a company that provides an unparalleled platform to share it with the world. You will work with partners across the company and academic/industry research teams across the globe to realize this vision: working with talent and leveraging unique data sets and content from the entire spectrum of Disney properties including Parks, Resorts, Cruise Lines, Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Disney Animation Studios.

Disney research offers a unique research environment, simultaneously sharpening fundamental and applied research skills. This position provides a unique opportunity to explore where the academic and industrial meet. As a post-doctoral research associate you will work on exciting projects leveraging state-of-the-art research and technologies.

Areas of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Embodied Conversational AI including:
    • Speech Processing
    • Natural Language Understanding
    • Dialogue systems
    • Voice Synthesis
    • Affective Computing
    • Knowledge representation
    • Generative Animation
  • Perception
    • Multimodal sensing, e.g., visual + audio, RGB + Depth
    • Visual perception system for degraded conditions
    • Computational photography
  • Data-driven Modelling and Applied Deep Learning
    • Data fusion
    • Recommender systems
    • Robotics, control systems
    • Computer vision, including computational imaging
    • Geometric deep learning
    • Representation learning
    • Multi-armed bandits
  • Computational Behavioral Science
    • Social psychology
    • Cognitive science
    • Behavioral econometrics
    • Behavior and choice modeling
    • Information structure design


As a researcher at Disney Research Imagineering, you will

  • Conduct advanced research projects in areas of interest to Disney Research and our partnering Business Units
  • Closely align and integrate with the Disney business to create value for the company by developing cutting-edge technology and moving demonstrators in the form of hardware and software prototypes and demo systems
  • Contribute and deliver to major research projects and platforms of Disney Research

  • Keep Disney Research at the forefront of technology research by surveying relevant technologies, attending conferences, reading papers, meeting with technology companies and research labs, and sharing new findings with team members
  • Assist in the hiring and mentoring of Researchers, Lab Associates, and Interns
  • Draft and submit strategic papers and patents based on research
  • Establish and maintain effective working relations with collaborators within and external to the company

Basic Qualifications

  • You are passionate about your area of expertise, deeply inquisitive and open-minded, and informed, but not limited, by your domain of expertise
  • You enjoy intellectual debate
  • You are comfortable guiding other team members but willing to get your hands dirty and help build research systems when needed
  • You are driven to perform research that is not simply novel but can be efficiently translated into systems and products that have value to the company and society
  • You have a knack for evolving research to practice in the form of prototypes and technology demonstrators
  • You are excited by the platform provided by Disney to connect with children and guests of all ages to have a positive impact on the world
  • You have a deep sensitivity for ethical use of technology and data
  • You thrive in a fast-paced, collaborative environment
  • You are self-directed and independent but open to constructive feedback
  • You are a team player, able to work in collaborative interdisciplinary groups
  • You are willing to take the time necessary to understand the business and adapt your knowledge to maximize the value of your contributions
  • You understand that communicating the value of your research to non-technical stakeholders is critical to continued investment
  • You understand that there are times when deep scientific rigor is necessary to validate a concept, and times when this is counterproductive, and are eager to discern the difference
  • You value sharing knowledge with the world but understand the need to drive and retain value in a private company

Preferred Qualifications

  • Track record of publications at top conferences and/or journals in relevant research areas, e.g., Nature, Sciences, CVPR, SIGGRAPH, NeurIPS, ICLR, ICML, etc.
  • Deep understanding of state-of-the-art ML/AI models in relevant research areas
  • Proven theoretical and practical research experience in addressing real-world application scenarios, especially in dealing with different degraded conditions, e.g., noisy data, dynamically changed environment, etc.
  • Experience building and annotating datasets
  • Strong programming skills in python and C++ as well as TensorFlow and/or Pytorch
  • Experience with containerization and orchestration
  • Familiarity with coding best-practices (versioning with git, code reviews, unit testing, etc.)

Required Education

  • Ph.D. in relevant research area

Disney offers a rewards package to help you live your best life. This includes health and savings benefits, educational opportunities and special extras that only Disney can provide. Learn more about our benefits and perks at


About Walt Disney Imagineering:

Founded in 1952 as WED Enterprises to design and build the world’s first theme park — Disneyland — Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) is where imagination and creativity combine with cutting-edge technology to create unforgettable experiences. WDI is the creative force that imagines, designs and builds all Disney theme parks, resorts, attractions and cruise ships worldwide. Imagineering’s unique strength comes from its diverse global team of creative and technical professionals, who build on Disney’s legacy of storytelling to pioneer new forms of entertainment. The Imagineers who practice this unique blend of art and science work in more than 100 disciplines to shepherd an idea all the way from “blue sky” concept phase to opening day.

About The Walt Disney Company:

The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with the following business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, consumer products and interactive media. From humble beginnings as a cartoon studio in the 1920s to its preeminent name in the entertainment industry today, Disney proudly continues its legacy of creating world-class stories and experiences for every member of the family. Disney’s stories, characters and experiences reach consumers and guests from every corner of the globe. With operations in more than 40 countries, our employees and cast members work together to create entertainment experiences that are both universally and locally cherished.

This position is with WDI Research & Development, Inc., which is part of a business we call Walt Disney Imagineering.

WDI Research & Development, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer. Applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or protected veteran status. Disney fosters a business culture where ideas and decisions from all people help us grow, innovate, create the best stories and be relevant in a rapidly changing world.

Apply NowApply Later

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