Research Opportunities | Department of Psychology

Research Opportunities

Collaborating with faculty members conducting research in our Department can be a rich and rewarding experience for undergraduates interested in empirical psychology research, and for those seeking to apply to graduate programs in psychology or neuroscience. Graduate programs typically accept only applicants with extensive experience. Our Department offers several mechanisms by which students can take part in psychology research in the laboratory.

Many research laboratories in the Department conduct empirical research projects in which they welcome the participation of undergraduates who wish to assist in the collection or coding of data, screening and recruitment of participants, and other elements of laboratory research such as conducting literature searches and attending weekly laboratory meetings. Please visit our Faculty pages to learn more about the research conducted by members of our Faculty to find a right fit for your interests.

Apply now to join a research team

Research Team Application

frequently asked questions about joining a research team

Why should I consider joining a research lab/team?

  • You'll be exposed to reading and possibly contributing to research articles, and be able to more meaningfully engage in bodies of research literature. You will also have opportunities to see and be involved in the research process from beginning to end - something hard to fully grasp from just reading about it. Many students also find these experiences help clarify their own research interests. This also is informative if you are considering graduate school. Similarly, you may receive mentorship from faculty and graduate students which is very helpful academic growth and for applying for graduate school. You'll be able to document research experiences (whether you enroll for course credit or not) on your CV.

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When is a good time to join a research lab?

  • As early as possible! Some faculty prefer students to be further along in school (sophomore or junior year, or with basic statistics or experimental classes taken) prior to joining. Other faculty are happy to bring on and begin mentoring students as earlier on. Check with the faculty you'd like to work with as soon as possible what their preferences are, so you can plan accordingly.

​How do I join a lab?

  • There are two general ways: Complete our general application via the above link, or directly contact faculty whose work interests you. Not all faculty pull from the application, and reaching out independent of this demonstrates initiative and excitement to join a team. Some faculty only accept new students to start in their labs at the start of semesters, and others take students on a rolling or as-needed basis. If you complete the application form, it's always a good idea to send a follow up email to faculty you are interested in working with, to make sure they received your information.

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What qualifications do faculty look for?

  • Most faculty are more interested in professionalism and an eagerness to learn above prior experience. Being on a team can require a lot of work, independently and in groups, so it's important you are able to commit to the responsibilities asked of you. An ability to work efficiently and ask for help when unsure are also generally highly valued. Many faculty appreciate students who can strike a balance between cultivating their own interests, offering their perspectives, and being willing to learn a lot. Aside from these general qualifications, ask faculty you're interested in working with what they look for or require.

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How do I decide what faculty to pursue working with?

  • Maybe you've taken a class from a professor you really like - go up to them and personally ask about research assistant opportunities! If you haven't had direct contact with many professors in a way which would inform you of their work, browse the Faculty Page and look at different faculty members' research pages. Often they will have additional information on what they're working on now or have worked on in the past, and how to contact them for joining the lab. Again, it shows initiative and eagerness to reach out to faculty directly and ask them about opportunities.

Want to participate in research?

Here are some helpful resources!

Participant concerns

Research with students presents unique considerations with regard to protection. Researchers are obligated to create studies that maximize benefits and minimize harm. Though, sometimes concerns may arise. Potential risks for participants can include:

  • Physical risks - include physical discomfort, pain, injury, illness or disease brought about by the methods and procedures of the research (e.g., loud noise, electric shock, exposure to intense or hear or coldness)
  • Psychological risks - include the production of negative emotional states such as anxiety, depression, guilt, shock and loss of self-esteem and altered behavior (e.g., sensory or sleep deprivation, harmful deception, mental stressors).
  • Social risks - include alterations in relationships with others that are to the disadvantage of the subject (e.g., embarrassment, loss of respect of others, labeling a subject in a way that will have negative consequences)
  • Coercion - students may feel as though they have to participate or risk having their non-participation impact their grade or relationship with the professor or researcher. In addition, the idea of ongoing voluntary participation is a potential issue if a student decides they want to discontinue their participation after initially consenting. Real coercion is rare in research, but the perception of coercion can be just as problematic in obtaining voluntary informed consent.
  • Loss of Confidentiality - subjects have the rights to be protected against injury or illegal invasions of their privacy and to preservation of their personal dignity. Identities of individual subjects must never be released without the express consent of the subject. If an investigator wishes to use data for a purpose other than the one for which it was originally collected and the data are still identifiable, the investigator may need to obtain consent from the subjects for the new use of the data.

If you have complaints upon participating in a study, please complete the Complaint Form

resources for researchers

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