Undergrad Research Labs
The primary focus of our work is to explore the biological basis of memory formation in the mammalian brain. Many of these studies involve an examination of the genes and proteins within neurons that contribute to neuronal plasticity and, ultimately, the formation of lasting memories. These studies span several levels of neurobiological analysis, and employ behavioral, neuropsychological, immunohistochemical, and molecular biological techniques. Our primary focus is on the hippocampus, and much of our research seeks to characterize the dissociable contributions of the CA1, CA2, CA3, and dentate gyrus subfields within both dorsal and ventral hippocampus to a variety of different “types” of memory. Many of these findings are explained in more detail on our laboratory website: www.ottolab.org
Pre-requisite: Prefer students to have taken either psychobiology or physiological psychology and lab and learning processes (formerly conditioning and learning)
Dr. Zenon Pylyshyn
Our research studies the nature of visual attention and assesses people's ability to split their visual attention and to track multiple independently moving objects, displayed on a screen. In this laboratory we have shown that people can normally track 4 moving objects even when they are mixed in with four other identical moving objects that they are to ignore. This basic Multiple Object Tracking (MOT) technique has proved useful for exploring a range of questions concerning human visual information processing.
Dr. Linda Reddy
(Sponsor: Maurice Elias)
The School System Improvement (SSI) Project
The way teachers instruct their students, manage behavior in the classrooms, and provide opportunity to learn (OTL) makes a big difference in student performance. However, there is currently no practical approach to measuring how teacher’s classroom practices affect student academic and behavior functioning. Identifying the instructional and behavior management strategies teachers’ utilize daily, as well as their influence on OTL, is crucial for determining which strategies are the most effective in promoting academic, behavior, and social success for students. However, current teacher evaluation practices and systems do not have empirically validated and reliable means of assessing these constructs, or methods for providing teachers with feedback to enhance their classroom practices. A fair and balanced educator evaluation system is needed to identify and monitor teachers’ classroom practices, as well as help guide school interventions and services necessary to ensure that all children succeed in school.
The School System Improvement (SSI) Project is designed to accomplish these goals:
- Utilize the Classroom Strategies Scale (CSS) and Instructional Learning Opportunities Guidance system (MyiLOGS) to enhance teacher evaluation practices, feedback and coaching
- Assess teachers' use of important instructional strategies, behavioral management strategies, and OTL in classroooms
- Facilitate teachers plans to cover necessary content from state and national content standards, as well as improve their use of classroom time
- Lend teacher voice to evaluations of educator effectiveness
- Improve the overall quality of education at schools and support teachers in their efforts to provide high quality instructions to their students.
Research assistants will:
- Participate in a large multi-site project in NJ and travel frequently to over 20 different charter schools
- Be trained on empirically based instructional and behavioral management strategies implemented by teachers
- Be trained on coverage of state content standards and opportunity to learn
- Observe teachers and classrooms using empirically based observational measures
- Participate in data collection, coding, entry, and analysis
- Have opportunities for professional presentations and publications
Requirements: The SSI Project is looking for highly motivated undergraduate students for the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters. A two-semester commitment is required. A minimum of 12 hours per week between the hours of 9am and 3pm. Personal transportation (such as a car) is required to visit elementary schools. Travel between Rutgers and schools will be reimbursed.
Application: To apply to the SSI Project, please submit an updated resume to Christopher Dudek or Dr. Linda Reddy. They can be reached at the following:
Christopher Dudek, ME.d.
Sr. Research Analyst - SSI Project
Linda A. Reddy, Ph.D.
Professor & Principal Investigator – SSI Project
Dr. Linda Reddy/Dr. Elisa Shernoff
(Sponsor: Dr. Maurice Elias)
RUTGERS COLLABORATIVE COACHING PROJECT
Project Manager: Adam Lekwa, PhD, NCSP
Assistant Research Professor
The Rutgers - Collaborative Coaching Project is a randomized controlled trial of an innovative coaching program designed to enhance teachers’ use of instructional and behavior management strategies in high poverty elementary schools. The effectiveness of the coaching model on teachers’ use of evidence based strategies will be evaluated based on observational data collected in the fall, winter, and spring of the 2017-2018 school year. Data will be collected using two observational assessments called the Classroom Strategies Scale (CSS), and the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS) and tests of students’ reading and mathematics achievement. This is a tremendous opportunity for students to obtain experience and new skills in conducting meaningful educational and psychological research in schools.
The project is interested in recruiting highly motivated undergraduate research assistants to play a vital role in implementing the project with teachers and researchers. This will be an outstanding opportunity for students who are interested in large scale assessment and intervention research focused on improving teachers’ instructional and behavioral management practices in high poverty schools.
Undergraduate research assistants working with this project will:
- participate in a multi-site research project in elementary schools in Jersey City Public Schools;
- receive training and certification on two teacher observational assessment systems;
- conduct classroom observations of participating teachers in fall, winter, and spring of the 2016 – 2017 school year;
- assist in the processing of research data, including teacher observations and coaching integrity data.
- participate as co-authors (if interested) in professionial conference presentations and other research training.
The Collaborative Coaching Project is looking for undergraduate research assistants for the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters.
A two-semester commitment is required. A minimum of 8 hours per week between the hours of 8:30 am and 3 pm.
Personal transportation (such as a car) is required to visit elementary schools. Reimbursement for travel to school sites is available.
Students interested in applying to participate in the Rutgers Collaborative Coaching Project should send an email and a current résumé to project manager Dr. Adam Lekwa.
Project Manager: Adam Lekwa, PhD, NCSP
Assistant Research Professor
Dr. Laurie Rudman
Social cognition, stereotypes, implicit attitude assessment.
Dr. Benjamin Samuels
Based on our needs, we may have some opportunities for undergraduate students to join the lab and participate in our research program. We are looking for highly motivated individuals with strong organizational and interpersonal skills that are willing to commit for at least two consecutive semesters.
The primary focus of our work is to explore the mechanisms of how antidepressants work, and more importantly why they only work for some people. To this end, we utilize mice to study the differences between “responders” and “non-responders” to antidepressant treatment. These studies utilize a wide range of neurobiological analyses, including cellular, molecular, behavioral, and pharmacological techniques.
Pre-requisite: Students who have taken physiological psychology or an equivalent introduction to neurobiology course are preferred.
The Stigma, Health and Close Relationships (SHCR) lab is a social psychology lab on the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers University supervised by Professor Diana Sanchez. As a social psychology lab, our studies employ diverse methodologies including explicit survey measures, implicit reaction time responses and physiological measures. We scientifically assess (1) antecedents and consequences of gender, racial, and body prejudice, (2) discrimination, and stereotyping, and (3) the process of identification and categorization for social category members.
Research assistants in the SHCR lab are expected to be exceptional undergraduates with an interest in psychology. We require that all students have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 and be either a major or minor in psychology. Participation in the lab requires a 1-year commitment (2 semesters). Each semester will grant you 3 credits from course 391/392, Research in Psychology. If you have questions, please visit our web page or contact the lab managers, Analia Albuja and Kim Chaney.
Dr. Edward Selby
The Emotion and Psychopathology Lab is currently recruiting undergraduate research assistants. The EmP Lab, led by Professor Edward Selby, Ph.D., examines how difficulties regulating emotion contribute to psychological disorders such as eating disorders, self-harming behavior, and Borderline Personality Disorder. Current studies underway in the lab include an investigation of the impact of stress on eating behavior, as well a project testing the influence of food on emotion and cognitive task performance. Upcoming studies in the lab will examine differences in emotional reactivity between individuals with Bulimia Nervosa, Major Depression, and Borderline Personality Disorder.
Research assistants in the EmP Lab are expected to have a high level of commitment and responsibility. As an RA, you will be required to attend regular lab meetings, run participants, and operate highly technical equipment. We require that all students have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 and commit 9 regular hours/week to the lab for at least two semesters. The opportunity to receive academic credit for your work in the lab is available.
If you are interested in applying for this position, please fill out an application at https://rutgerspsychology.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_6Xw9oj5Y31EQIER
To read more about the lab, visit Dr. Edward Selby’s website: http://edwardaselby.com
Dr. Elisa Shernoff
SPONSOR: Dr. Maurice Elias
Interactive Virtual Training for Early Career Teachers in High Poverty Schools: Undergraduate Research Experience
Dr. Elisa Shernoff in the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, is developing Interactive Virtual Training (IVT), a video game training model in which early career teachers working in high poverty schools can improve their behavior management skills with disruptive avatars in a virtual training environment.
We are currently recruiting undergraduate research assistants to play a vital role in implementing this project in collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of psychologists, computer scientists, engineers, and designers.
Gain hands-on experience conducting research in schools to help teachers learn strategies to respond to disruptive student behaviors
Learn research-based practices to manage disruptive behaviors in classrooms.
Work with a dynamic team of interdisciplinary researchers, psychologists, and computer scientists
What are the training opportunities and responsibilities?
- This project provides outstanding training opportunities for students interested in psychology, education, and/or computer science, with specific interests in learning how to use effective behavior management strategies via an innovative technology.
- Lab-based research activities include data entry, management and analysis in addition to conducting literature reviews.
- During Fall 2017, field-based experiences will include visiting elementary school classrooms to conduct observations.
- Faculty mentoring on developing research skills, applying to graduate school, and scientific writing.
- Approximately 8 hours per week of lab-based work and attending monthly lab meetings and trainings.
Can I earn course credit?
Students can earn course credit for their work by registering for PSYCH 391/392 or PSYCH 495/496.
Students can also volunteer in our lab.
( click here for application form )
What are the procedures for applying?
Summer position deadline: Friday, May 12, 2017 by 5pm
Fall position deadline: Friday, July 28, 2017 by 5pm
The way the world looks to us is a remarkable achievement of our visual system. The visual inputs we receive are just the two-dimensional images projected on our retinas. But from these our brain is able to construct representations of three-dimensional objects and surfaces laid out in space. Research in our lab is aimed at understanding how the human brain computes representations of objects and surfaces from the retinal images, and how it uses these representations for various tasks.
Specific topics include:
1. Shape Perception: How does the brain represent the shape of objects so that, for example, we can tell whether the shape we're seeing right now is the same as one we saw earlier? An ongoing focus of the lab is on "part-based representations" of shape, which involve decomposing complex objects into simpler parts, and then describing their shape in terms of these parts and the way they are put together.
2. Object Completion: When we see an object that is partly hidden behind another surface, we can often perceive its shape as complete. Similarly, we can see "illusory contours" where no boundary actually exists in the image. How does the brain manage to fill-in the missing portions of an object's boundary?
3. Predicting object behavior: When we see an object, our brains represent not only how the object looks right now, but also how it might behave in the near future. For example, if we see an image of a tilted vase, we can tell in a single glance whether the vase is likely to fall over and break, or to return to its upright position. How is the brain able to infer the forces that are acting on an object from just a single snapshot, thereby allowing us to predict its behavior?
The research in this lab investigates the cognitive and neural bases of language. Ongoing projects fall in five general areas.
1. Normal language acquisition. We study how typically-developing children acquire English and other languages. We also use mobile eye-trackers to study how children understand spoken language. Projects involve testing preschool- and school-aged children and performing transcript studies.
2. Abnormal language acquisition. Language acquisition by children with developmental language disorders is compared with language acquisition by normal children. Projects involve testing language-impaired children and transcribing and analyzing their speech.
3. Adult language processing. Computer-based and eye-tracking experiments are used to investigate how adults process spoken and written language processing.
4. Genetics of language. The language development of Monozygotic (identical) twins is compared with that of dizygotic (nonidentical) twins. Projects involve coding and analyzing spontaneous speech and test data from twins.
5. Perinatal factors & development. We are investigating how various prenatal and early postnatal factors affect language development. Projects involve testing children, and coding, entering and analyzing data.
Students who are native speakers of English, Hebrew, Korean, or Turkish are particularly welcomed to participate.
Research interests: My research is conducted in the NeuroPharmacoGenetics Lab at the Center of Alcohol Studies. My research interests are generally related to animal learning models of alcohol drinking; Pavlovian conditioning of sign-tracking; intergender effects on alcohol drinking; gene expression correlates of alcohol drinking in mice.
I have three lines of research in my lab: Theoretical, electrophysiology-behavioral and clinical. The common theme of this research is to understand how the primate brain integrates sensory-motor information to perform purposeful tasks in every day life. The main goal of this research is to ultimately help patients of various kinds. These include both adults and children with developmental disabilities. Adult patients may be in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, or may have had a stroke in the past. Children may be patients who have been diagnosed with autism and/or infants who we will study seeking better future diagnosis tools in the sensory-motor domain.
Our work depends heavily on the use of computers. Programming skills in Matlab are necessary. We model, measure and analyze movement data so basic knowledge of calculus, linear algebra, familiarity with the rotation group and its operations, geometry and elements of mechanics is preferred. Knowledge of Mathematica is a plus but not required. Familiarity with developmental issues is necessary. Familiarity with neurological issues is necessary. If you are interested in analyzing neural data from various cortical sites, familiarity with electrophysiology is necessary. Familiarity with statistics is necessary. If none of the above applies to you but you are interested in working as a research assistant with the data collection process, scheduling process, and have good personal skills interacting with patients, you are also more than welcomed to join us and learn about all of these different aspects of movement research during your time with us.
Neurobiology of Vocal Learning
Songbirds use their songs and calls to communicate in social and reproductive contexts. They learn to make these sounds through a process of vocal imitation that has much in common with human speech acquisition. Very few animals are capable of this form of behavioral learning. It involves auditory discrimination, auditory memory and sensorimotor learning. We can study the brain mechanisms of each of these processes, because the relevant brain pathways have been identified in songbirds. Experiments in the laboratory involve a range of techniques from behavioral observations and sound processing to neurophysiology and neuroanatomy. Opportunities exist for interested students to participate in ongoing projects if they can make a significant time commitment.
Study of schizophrenia and Parkinson's disease using animal models. Assessment of the neurochemical and behavioral deficits following the administration of psychomotor stimulants.
Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory
In my laboratory we study neural mechanisms of cocaine and opiate addiction, binge eating, reward, and motor skill learning in the mesolimbic and nigrostriatal dopamine systems in rat models of behaviors involving dopamine transmission. We analyze behavioral measures and activity of single neurons in conjunction with the animal's affective state measured via ultrasonic vocalizations (USVs) that rats emit. One USV frequency range signals positive affect, whereas another signals negative affect. USVs provide new insights into what rats are experiencing, sometimes surprisingly at odds with what experimenters presume.
Prerequisite: E-mail a description of your background, and why you’re interested in this particular research. Also name any related courses you’ve taken, and give a brief description of your long-range educational and career goals.
Students attend weekly lab meetings to plan and prepare research. Research topics include the following:
1. Stereotype formation and change
2. Moral decision making
3. Replication of classic social psychological experiments.
Research on Self Understanding and Self Evaluation
Our research examines such traditional topics as self-concept and self-esteem and their relation to questions in contemporary studies of social cognition. We are interested in how knowledge about the self is represented cognitively and how such knowledge structures are configured. We are also interested in the relationship of self-understanding and self-evaluation to areas in clinical psychology. Most specifically we are studying the connection of cognition about the self with depression and the personality disorders.
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