Undergrad Research Labs
- Category: Research Opportunities
The Aresty Research Center for Undergraduates may provide various forms of support for your student research.
2017 Honors Research Participants
Dr. Jack Aiello
The program of research of the Social and Organizational Psychology Research Lab investigates the process by which people regulate and control their social interaction with others at home and at work.
Social Facilitation - We are testing the premise that social presence be viewed as a continuous variable differing in the salience of presence. We are focusing on two often overlooked types of presence: anticipatory and residual social presence. Anticipatory social presence relates to anticipating the arrival of an observer and residual social presence relates to the feeling of "presence" which lingers after an observer has left.
The Effects of Distractions and Interruptions - We have found that some types of distractions and interruptions while we are working actually positively affect performance. So, we are designing other studies to test when music and workplace distractions detract or improve performance. In addition, we are testing under which conditions individuals improve their performance depending on the task, their personality, and their immediate environment.
Social Psychology of Technology – We are conducting a series of studies examining the role that technology plays in our interactions with others. At work millions of Americans are continually monitored from the moment they arrive at work. We already have demonstrated the stressful effects on employees’ health and performance of this monitoring process.
Telework - We are conducting a longitudinal case study of a division of a market research organization which I helped make the transition to full-time telework. We are studying changes in employee anxiety, distraction, communication, team cohesion, and performance.
We provide students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with the day-to-day operations of research in social and organizational psychology. Students will participate in the excitement of discovery: they will learn how research is generated and hypotheses are formulated, how investigations are conducted, and how data are organized, analyzed, and interpreted. There are many opportunities to participate in the training for and the execution of research, both in the field and in the lab. Students are able to learn how to effectively research the literature on topics related to social and organizational psychology. Working as a team is a central part of our research, and students have a great opportunity to learn how best to work together.
Students will have an opportunity to acquire skills that are invaluable in graduate school and in the workforce. These skills include literature searches, using computer programs to organize and analyze data, detecting and correcting problems that arise in the lab, and brainstorming ideas for future studies with the research team. The more initiative students take, the more opportunities they will have to acquire these skills.
Dr. Bates is Distinguished Research Professor and associate director of the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies (CAS). She directs the Research Division and the Cardiac Neuroscience Laboratory at CAS. The mission of this multidisciplinary lab is to conduct integrated physiology, psychology and neuroscience research aimed at understanding alcohol and other drug effects on behavioral flexibility, and developing innovative bio-behavioral treatment approaches for persons with alcohol and drug use disorders. The lab is especially interested in learning how visceral bodily reactions are integrated with cognitive and emotional regulation through the baroreflex feedback loop. Students have the opportunity to participate in a number of studies (see our website for more details http://research.alcoholstudies.rutgers.edu/active/cardiac-neuroscience-laboratory-cnl):
- Acute alcohol effects on psychophysiological arousal in relation to cognitive and emotional regulation and risk for substance use disorders
- Research at the Rutgers Brain Imaging Center (RUBIC), Rutgers-Newark, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and psychophysiological assessment tools to understand brain-body feedback systems during cue reactivity and breathing challenges
- Collaborative research with computational modelers at UC-Santa Barbara and AIMdyn, Inc., to build a personalized medicine model of resonance breathing intervention effects
- Randomized clinical trial of resonance breathing as an adjunct to treatment as usual with a community partner/treatment provider, The Center for Great Expectations (New Brunswick, NJ), to interrupt reactivity to triggers and negative affective states that promote relapse
- Collaborative research with neuroscientists and exercise scientists on college depression and risky alcohol use
Rising sophomore and junior undergraduates are encouraged to apply because the most valuable lab experience comes from a multi-year emersion in the lab. Post-baccalaureates seeking to do research in the gap year(s) before starting graduate school are especially welcome. Prior research experience is not required, but useful. Key skills include attention to detail, dependability, ease with learning new software, and a desire to learn in a high-tech, multi-disciplinary lab. Students will be provided with comprehensive hands-on training.
Many of our previous students have gone on to gain admission to highly competitive Ph.D. and M.D. programs.
Contact: Marsha E. Bates, Ph.D., Research Professor, Center of Alcohol Studies
Disorders of learning and memory are a major issue facing many people and families today. My laboratory focuses on the neuroplasticity of the brain, and in particular how neuroplasticity supports information processing and storage when animals (like humans) learn and remember something new. What are the biological mechanisms that control learning-induced plasticity in the brain? And how does neuroplasticity contribute to long-term memory about newly learned information?
We in the CLEF Lab (*CLEF Lab = Cortex Learning Epigenetics & Function) study the auditory cortex to investigate sensory information processing, learning, and storage in memory. For example, the lab uses rodent models of simple associative learning to show that a rat can learn to press a button when they hear a particular acoustic frequency to receive rewards. How does the animal learn this specific auditory association? It turns out that the brain's representation of sound changes when the animal learns a sound is important, e.g., for obtaining reward. Mechanisms of neuroplasticity "re-tune" the auditory cortex so more cells become highly sensitive to the important acoustic frequency (and less sensitive to other frequencies). This has become known and identified in the field as auditory receptive field plasticity, frequency tuning shifts, and cortical (tonotopic) map expansion.
Our research questions are: (1) How does the auditory cortex come to encode sound-specific information? (2) What are the biological mechanisms of plasticity that select auditory cells and circuits for "re-tuning"? (3) What behavioral factors make animals "good" or "poor" learners? And how is "good vs. poor learning" related to auditory neuroplasticity and subsequent memory? Our lab investigates these questions at multiple levels. We use behavioral training and tests in rats, cortical electrophysiology, and molecular genetics to understand the behavioral, neural systems, and epigenetic mechanisms that dictate how animals (like humans) can learn and remember. Epigenetic mechanisms that control gene expression also offer an entry point to study and identify key genes associated with neuroplasticity and adaptive behavior. Thus, our research also has implications for identifying key genes that may be involved in auditory communication and learning disorders, e.g., autism.
Keeping in mind that the function of the auditory system lies at a complex junction between sensory perceptual and cognitive processes is integral to our research. Therefore, by studying the learning-induced plasticity of the auditory cortex, students will have in-depth exposure to research and scientific literature relevant to neural processes of perception, learning, memory, and plasticity.
Regulation Action and Motivated Perception Lab
The Regulation, Action, and Motivated Perception Lab is currently recruiting motivated research assistants interested in a rich and comprehensive research experience. The RAMP Lab, directed by Dr. Shana Cole, studies the social cognitive and perceptual processes that predict and promote effective goal pursuit. Current projects explore the role of motivated visual perception in managing relationship, dieting, smoking, political, and exercise goals.
RAs will gain hands-on experience in all aspects of the research process, including attending lab meetings where new ideas are developed and ongoing research is discussed, contributing to the design and implementation of study materials, helping with data entry and analysis, and most importantly, spending time in the lab and in the field helping to conduct social psychological experiments.
While no specific prior experience is required, we do expect that applicants will have completed basic introductory psychology courses. As a result, the lab experience is best suited for sophomores, juniors, or seniors. RAs will be expected to spend approximately 5-10 hours/week involved in the lab. In addition, we ask that students only apply if they are able to commit at least two semesters to working in the lab.
Please visit our lab website at http://www.ramplab-rutgers.com/ for an application.
My students and I conduct research on social and psychological factors involved in the development and course of physical and mental health problems. With regard to physical health, our primary focus is heart disease, a leading killer. With regard to mental health, our primary focus is anxiety/anxiety disorders, a highly prevalent set of conditions.
Our main approach is psychophysiological. The body’s response to the perception of threat, and to efforts to cope with threats, includes changes in the autonomic nervous system and in cardiovascular activity that, over time, appear to lead to the development of heart disease. Biological responses to threat may also serve as markers to identify individuals who are at risk of developing post–traumatic stress disorder. The concept of psychological stress plays an important role as a framework for understanding these processes, as do theories of emotion and motivation.
Another approach involves the examination of social beliefs, experiences, and behaviors that play a role in physical and mental health problems. Belief systems are in part responsible for what it is that people find threatening. They also influence or inhibit the performance of behaviors that may work to prevent the development of physical and mental health problems, including decisions to undergo medical screening or to seek psychotherapy. In other words, exposures to psychological threats and ensuing coping responses do not occur in a vacuum. They reflect characteristics of a person including gender-related beliefs, beliefs about physical and mental health problems and their treatment, race/ethnicity, prior exposure to psychological trauma, and personality.
Among specific projects currently underway are:
(1) Psychophysiology of Gender-Related Threat: How do stressful events associated with one’s gender-related beliefs affect the autonomic and cardiovascular systems? How do people cope with these events? Do physiological and behavioral effects of these events increase the risk of heart disease?
(2) Electrocortical Measurement of Threat Sensitivity: Can measurement of the brain’s electrical activity (EEG) help us to understand cognitive, affective, and social processes activated by psychological treat? Can it help to identify individuals who are especially sensitive to certain forms of threat, and predict how they will cope?
Students in our research group gain experience conducting experimental research involving laboratory techniques for acquiring and analyzing psychological, behavioral, and physiological data in human subjects. Although these are by no means requirements, preference will be given to students with skills/knowledge in biology, computers/programming, electronics, and/or statistics, who plan to attend graduate school or medical school, who are interested in research careers, and who are willing to make at least a one-year commitment to work with us. We welcome students from a variety of majors, including psychology, biological sciences, and engineering. Many of our former students are now physicians, professors, clinical psychologists, and medical researchers.
The unifying themes in my action-research, clinical work, and policy/advocacy are the development of positive, constructive life paths for children and youth and the organization of opportunities to allow this to happen in equitable ways. This has brought me into areas such as social-emotional learning (SEL), its more recent variation, social-emotional and character development (SECD), emotional intelligence, social competence promotion, character education, primary prevention, school-based, evidence-based intervention, and socialization of identity. It has also brought my work increasingly into the areas of implementation and sustainability of interventions, and cutting edge issues such as the link of SECD and academics and the distinguishing features of sustainable, versus well-implemented, empirically supported innovations. Finally, I have most recently begun to work in the area of promoting civic engagement among Rutgers University students via the creation of a Collaborative for Community-Based Research and Service (engage.rutgers.edu).
I have worked to establish the field of prevention, school-based preventive intervention, and social competence promotion as a credible, important, and rigorous area of research, practice, and public policy. To accomplish the latter, collaborative models are necessary, as are programs of longitudinal, synergistic action-research with an explicit eye to practice and policy. Thus, I have organized my work within the Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab (http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~melias/ and www.edutopia.org/user/67). The Lab is dedicated to conducting action-research in public, private, and religious school settings for the purpose of building children’s skills for facing the tests of life, and not a life of tests. It focuses on understanding the relationship of academic achievement, social-emotion competencies, and the development of character and a core set of life principles, and the development of school-based interventions to strengthen social-emotion skills , character, and one’s Laws of Life, and prevent bullying, violence and victimization, substance abuse, and related problem behaviors.
Projects of the Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab focus on students and their school, family, and community environments. We employ a project-based, constructivist and inquiry-oriented social-learning approach to pedagogy and a developmental ecological-community psychology approach to understanding settings and designing, delivering, and evaluating interventions. In addition, we carry out applied research related to bullying/youth violence, victimization, character development and identity, spirituality, purpose, and forgiveness, social-emotional and social decision making skills, social support, classroom organization, management, and discipline, test anxiety and motivation, menschlekheit development in schools and families, Jewish education, emotional intelligence, and the design, implementation, and sustainability of preventive interventions.
Current projects include:
- Developing Schools of Character in New Brunswick and Jersey City
- Improving School Climate for Academic and Life Success
- Laws of Life and Social-Emotional Learning in the Schools: A Longitudinal Action-Research Project
- Implementation and Sustainability of School-Based Interventions
- Assessment and Improvement of Civic Engagement
- Social-Emotional Learning and Academic Achievement/Closing Achievement Gaps Project
- Empowerment , Leadership, and Service-Learning Groups for At-Risk Girls and Boy
My research concerns perceptual organization, grouping, visual similarity, shape representation, object categorization, and other aspects of human visual cognition.
Douglass Develomental Disabilities Center
Behavioral and educational research conducted with children and adults with autism. Areas of research include evaluating the effectiveness of treatment procedures, assessing family functioning, and influencing social behavior in autism.
Participation includes ten hours per week of involvement in varied research activities: collection, coding, and analysis of data, systematic observation of instructional sessions and naturalistic interactions, and literature reviews.
Seminars and daily contact allow the student to share a variety of experiences with both the instructor and other students.
Open to juniors and seniors. Priority is given to students who have done field work at the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center. ENROLLMENT IS LIMITED.
I study the causes and consequences of social injustice, gender myths, and effective teaching. My theoretical approach involves a blend of cognitive complexity, social identity, and social power. My research has shown that those with more complex cognitive representations engage in less intergroup bias, that those with a feminist identity or racial identity engage in less bias, and that these social identities relate to higher levels of cognitive complexity. Other social researchers have shown that those with high social power are less cognitively complex, and engage in more intergroup bias. In combination these results suggest that being raised with social power (e.g., dominant ethnic, gender, or economic group) makes one less cognitively complex, which in turn makes one less aware of social injustice and more likely to blame victims and lash out at low power groups. Inducing cognitive complexity helps to reduce intergroup biases and social injustice.
Current projects include:
- the role of feminist identity and cognitive complexity on the acceptance of myths regarding victims of sexual assault
- manipulating cognitive complexity to reduce intergroup biases
- gender differences in cognitive complexity (women are more complex)
- political ideology and cognitive complexity
- how prejudice and discrimination are presented in textbooks
- how gender dysphoria is presented in textbooks
- the role of cognitive complexity and collective esteem in depression
Future projects with potential Spring 2018 start dates:
- outgroup hatred versus ingroup preference in explaining intergroup biases
- feminist pedagogy
Qualifications for working with Dr. Foels include:
- psychology major
- GPA of 3.3 or greater
- strong library skills
- commitment to 9 hours a week of research activities
Dr. Arnold Glass
Human cognition is best understood in terms of a set of inter-connected functional neural systems. There is a huge need for functional schematics and functional anatomical maps of these systems and I have taken up this challenge. Anyone who likes to draw and is interested in neuroscience will find this work very rewarding.
Our understanding of human cognition has many important practical implications for the area of education. I am doing classroom based experiments that test instructional methodologies that improve academic performance. I now have a massive amount of data from 10 years of experiment that I must analyze by fitting the data to mathematical models. Anyone who is willing to perform the tedious but essential task of downloading the data and organizing it in a spreadsheet format for further analysis will find this work rewarding.
When we see or hear, our brains are transforming information from one form into another. So our brains are information processing systems, just like computers are. Computers can electronically perform operations much faster than our brains. But the procedures that our brains use for transforming information are much faster and more efficient than those currently used by computers. Describing the procedures that the brain uses to encode and retrieve information is the goal of my research. Students who enjoy mathematics and/or computer programming who are interested in how the mind works should find this work fascinating.
Rutgers Whole School Restorative Practices Project
The Morningside Center Whole School Restorative Practices (RP) Project is a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a whole school discipline reform program based on integrating restorative practices and social emotional learning (SEL) curriculum in 18 K-12 public schools in Brooklyn, NY. The whole school RP program is designed to build community among administrators, teachers, staff, students, and families within a school to strengthen relationships and reduce exclusionary discipline, like office discipline referrals and suspensions. Our program evaluation asks: Does the Whole School RP Project have a positive impact on reducing overall discipline referrals and especially reducing disparities in discipline referrals of Black, male, and special education students in elementary, middle, and high schools in a high needs district? RCT evaluation will be based on NYC DOE data records of discipline, attendance, and achievement, as well as survey, interview, and focus group data collected in the spring of each school year for three years. Data will be collected using schoolwide surveys for teachers and students to measure SEL competencies and perceptions of school climate in the program implementation schools with RP and in the business-as-usual schools for comparison.
The Rutgers Evaluation team is interested in recruiting highly motivated undergraduate research assistants to play a vital role in collecting and processing data to evaluate the impact of the whole school RP project. This will be an outstanding opportunity for students interested in a large scale, multi-year research project and intervention focused on reducing punitive punishment and exclusionary discipline, closing the discipline gap for Black, male, and special education students, strengthening teachers’ and students’ SEL skills, and improving overall school climate. We seek students who might be able to commit to the project over multiple semesters.
Undergraduate research assistants working with this project will:
- earn course credit for a psych 300 level or 400 level course;
- gain research experience in a multi-year RCT in high-needs elementary, middle, and high schools;
- assist in the collecting and processing of research data, including teacher surveys, student surveys, and program implementation data;
- learn about and discuss racial inequities in schools, especially involving the reducing the discipline gap
- Begin work in January 2018 for the spring semester and continue through Spring 2020 (if possible).
- Rutgers academic credit may be awarded for each fall and spring semester.
- Approximately 8 hours per week between the hours of 9am and 5pm in the GSAPP building including a lab team meeting, schedule to be determined.
- CITI online basic course for involvement in human subject research.
- Some volunteer hours over the summer term (financial compensation may be available for summer hours)
- Site visits to Brooklyn schools for survey administration in May of each program year (2018-2020); reimbursement for travel to school sites is available, schedule to be determined.
- NYC DOE fingerprinting and background check in order to enter schools.
Students interested in applying to participate in the Whole School RP Project should submit a completed application along with a current resume to project manager Allison Ward-Seidel. Applications can be found on Psychweb:
click here for application
. Application deadline is Wednesday, Nov 15, 2017.
We are currently looking for a part time lab assistant for the 2017-18 academic year. Please visit our lab website to apply.
How do people use information from complex naturalistic environments when retrieving information from memory? My research focuses on the relationship between mental representations of the environment and episodic memory, and how people use knowledge and expectations about their environment to make decisions. To better understand the cognitive goals underlying memory I combine computational modeling with behavioral experiments.
Current studies include:
How do prior knowledge and expectations about objects in natural and ransom scenes influence episodic memory?
How do people categorize color and how do prior expectations about color influence episodic memory?
How does the natural frequency of, and object or word affect recognition and recall?
How can prior knowledge be useful in assessing the validity of eyewitness testimony?
How do people use natural frequencies when reasoning?
Research in the lab is heavily dependent on the use of computers. Familiarity with Matlab programming and/or strong skills in photoshop are very helpful.
Racism Identity Coping and Health (RICH) Lab
We are currently inviting interested and enthusiastic individuals to apply to be research assistants in the Racism, Identity, Coping, and Health (RICH) Lab under the direction of Dr. Lori Hoggard, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology (Social area). We seek to understand the physical and mental health consequences of racism and discrimination encountered by African Americans and members of other racial/ethnic minority groups. In doing so, we focus on identity, coping, and important mechanisms that underlie the associations between racism and health. The lab employs diverse approaches, including surveys, experiments, and psychophysiological (e.g., heart rate, heart rate variability, blood pressure) methods.
Research assistants in the RICH lab are expected to be exceptional undergraduates with an interest in psychology. Although previous research experience is not required, it is expected that most applicants will have completed basic introductory psychology courses. We also ask that students only apply if they are able to commit at least two semesters to working in the lab. As such, preference will be given to sophomore and junior applicants with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Finally, research assistants will generally be expected to spend approximately 5-10 hours/week in the lab, although specific days and hours are flexible.
Please visit our lab website at http://www.rurichlab.com/join-the-lab.html for an application.
My research is concerned with mental time travel, that is, how we think about the past and future and how memory and foresight abilities develop. We currently have a number of studies underway that examine various aspects of autobiographical memory and future thinking in children and adults:
1. Development of future thinking in preschool children. We are collecting data on how children at 3 and 4 years of age reason about the future. Some of the questions we are concerned with include: Is it easier to imagine oneself in the future or another person? Is the ability to think about the future related to the development of working memory and/or executive function skills?
2. Autobiographic memory and the life story. How do specific autobiographical memories contribute to the development of a person's life story?
3. Planning and time management. Is the ability to plan for the future related to the ability to manage one's time effectively?
4. Mother-child interaction and the development of future thinking. How do conversations between mothers and children about future events contribute to the development of future thinking in young children?
5. Development of time concepts. How do young children learn to think about the past and future in terms of conventional units of time (e.g., hours, days, months and so on)? What role
do parents and teachers play in this development?
Dr. Margaret Ingate
Research interests: human memory, consumer behavior, adjustment and identity among minority group adolescents; personality.
Dr. Lee Jussim
Current projects on which undergraduates could assist include:
1. Identifying when, how, and how much stereotypes influence how people perceive individuals from the stereotype group.
2. assessing sources of anti-Semitism
3. various studies in political psychology, including the role of racism & sexism in the 2008 presidential election and political stereotyping
Graduate School of Applied & Professional Psychology at Rutgers University: 848 445-3922
Black Couples Research Project running Summer/Fall/and Spring
The purpose of this study is to understand how African Americans view and cope with racial factors such as oppression and racial stereotypes within their couple relationships. African American couples have been recruited from the community to complete questionnaires and participate in videotaped discussions regarding the role of racial issues in their lives, both as individuals and as a couple.
Students are needed for at least several of the following: to recruit participants and collect human subject data, code videotaped interactions, compile, enter and clean data, compile refworks and manuscript data bases, library research, and other research activities. Students are taught how to manage confidential participant information, and must have HSCP certification before joining the project. Students will receive training in empirical research methods, including data transformation and analysis via SPSS, or qualitative analyses using Atlas.ti, data and office management, and professional behavior. Students will also learn information about Black couples, and information about racial issues/perceptions relevant to research and practice. Such skills are invaluable to those who would like to go on to graduate school develop careers in research, and/or specialize in research or clinical work with African Americans.
Eye Movements and Cognitive Processes
Movements of the eyes are needed to gather information from the visual world because we must look at objects in order to see them clearly. From this simple fact comes 3 questions, all of which are under study in our laboratory. First, what factors determine where the eye moves and how accurately and quickly it arrives at its intended destination? Second, which patterns of eye movements are most useful for gathering visual information? Third, what can we learn about cognitive processes by studying an observer's pattern of eye movements?
Opportunities exist for interested students to participate in ongoing projects or design new experiments. Students should have completed Psychology 301/302. Our work is heavily dependent on use of computers (PCs) so familiarity with a computer programming language is needed to be a full participant in projects.
Prerequisite: Interested students must send by either e-mail or campus mail (Psychology Building, Busch Campus) a brief description of their background relevant to the research, including a list of related courses taken and a brief description of long-range educational and career goals.
Dr. Alexander Kusnecov
The nervous and immune systems share a mutually interactive relationship, which promotes various forms of physiological and behavioral adaptations in the face of pathogenic challenges from viruses and bacteria. The focus of my lab is on understanding this relationship through (I) studies that determine the mechanisms by which stress affects immune function, and (ii) studies that examine the cognitive and emotional consequences of immune system activation. These studies involve animal models of immunological activation and/or stressor exposure. Interested students should therefore be prepared to learn and conduct research that involves sterotaxic surgery, behavioral testing, and collection and processing of brain and lymphoid tissue for histological and biological assessment. This would be appropriate for students wishing to progress towards graduate education in Biopsychology/Behavioral Neuroscience, as well as in areas of Health Psychology that focus on Psychoneuroimmunology.
The Cognitive Development Lab studies the development of mental capacities underlying our understanding of physical objects, number, causation, social agency, pretending, and reasoning about other people’s mental states. Research is carried out, as appropriate, with normally developing infants (6 to 18 mos.) and preschool (3 to 5 years) and autistic and mentally handicapped children (6 to 18 years). We are always seeking eager undergraduates for research opportunities in our lab. Students should be willing and able to work in the lab for two semesters or a semester and a summer.
*For further information about our lab and its activities and how to apply for an internship please visit our Website.
Dr. Howard Leventhal
848 932-4105 Ext 27537
Our group is currently involved in several different types of study of health behavior. The areas are as follows:
1. Life Span Changes in Health and Illness Behavior: Our studies of illness cognition examine changes in thinking about illness over the life span. We are examining these processes in cohorts ranging from early adulthood to the old, i.e., over 75. We are interested in defining changes in coping strategies such as motivation to avoid risk and motivation to conserve energy resources that affect emotionality, immune function and help-seeking from middle to older age.
2. Illness Cognition: Studies of common sense views of illness: What are the categories and scripts that underlie the expectations people hold about symptom episodes, i.e., diagnostic cues, their causes (exposure, diet, sleep deprivation, stress, etc.), and the procedures they use to develop their expectations and control symptom episodes (self medication, rest, etc.). We will be looking at the contribution of emotional memory to different ways of representing chronic illness and re-examining the role of fear in the adoption of health promotive behaviors.
3. Self-appraisals. Self-assessments of health are quite strong predictors of mortality. People who say fair or poor in answering the question, "In general, would you say your health is (excellent to poor)?" are 2 to 5 times more likely to be decreased in the following years than people answering excellent or very good. This effect appears controlling for the individuals medical history. In short, individuals are able to assess the overall status of their physical selves. The questions we are asking, are; "How do people make these judgments?" "What information do they use?" “Do these self appraisals influence interpretation of symptoms or motivation to engage in protective health practices?
Prerequisite: (1) Experimental Lab (2) Quantitative Methods (830:200) (3) One course of social/personality /health (4) One course in Cognitive or BSN.
Dr. Teresa Leyro
In the Affective and Biological Underpinnings of Anxiety and Substance Abuse (ABUSA) lab we seek to identify underlying vulnerabilities that place individuals at risk for co-occurring anxiety pathology and substance use disorders, and/or may serve to maintain associated dysfunction.
Our program of work is translational in nature and utilizes laboratory paradigms to examine how vulnerabilities of interest predict outcomes in the context of stress. However, our end goal is to develop targeted interventions to help improve health and mental health outcomes for this difficult to treat population.
Given the bidirectional relations of behavior, affect, and physiology, it is our belief that psychological interventions should be integrative. Thus, toward our goal of understanding risk factors for anxiety and substance use, we take a multi-method approach, utilizing a combination of self-report, behavioral, and psychophysiological methods.
Current research focuses on cigarette smoking, with an emphasis on understanding factors that may moderate affective and behavioral responses to acute nicotine withdrawal in the context of stress. Future directions of the lab include the development of novel smoking cessation interventions that target both cognitive and physiological parameters.
We are recruiting talented and motivated students wishing to gain hands-on research experience and require a two semester, 10-hour/week commitment. For more information on our ongoing projects and to learn how to apply, please visit: http://www.abusalab.rutgers.edu/index.html.
Our overall focus is on individual differences in general cognitive abilities (c.f., "intelligence"). Genetically heterogenous and transgenic mice are used in studies of behavioral processes as well as neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and molecular/genetic mechanisms of learning, reasoning, and attention as they relate to general cognitive performance. Students are provided with the opportunity to participate in the design and implementation of all aspects of these studies.
Students interested in working in this laboratory should send a resume, transcript (unofficial transcript is fine), and schedule.
I use the rodent olfactory (smell) system to study how the brain processes sensory stimuli. I am especially interested in how the brain changes based on an animal's environment and prior experience. In my lab we use a wide variety of techniques, including behavioral experimentation, optical imaging of neural activity under a microscope, and tissue assays for various proteins and neurotransmitters. Students who wish to work in my lab should have taken Physiological Psychology or an equivalent undergraduate neuroscience course and should submit a resume and transcript. Please see my website for more information.
Dr. Julien Musolino
Based on our needs, we offer opportunities for undergraduate students to join our lab and participate in the research we conduct. We are looking for highly motivated individuals with strong organizational and interpersonal skills willing to commit for at least two consecutive semesters. Programming skills as well as knowledge of Excel, PowerPoint, and SPSS (or equivalent) are a strong plus. Undergraduate research assistants get involved in many aspects of our research, including design and creation of experimental stimuli, data collection, entry and analysis. Depending on the project, RAs may work onsite with adult participants or off site with young children at local preschools. In addition, RAs will be given the opportunity to attend our weekly lab meetings. These meetings provide a unique learning environment where all aspects of research are discussed in a friendly atmosphere. If you are interested in working with us as an undergraduate research assistant, please contact Dr. Julien Musolino: http://www.rutgers-psycholinguistics.com/contact
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. Linda Reddy and Dr. Todd Glover
Rutgers Paraprofessional Coaching Project
Sponsor: Dr. Maurice Elias
The Rutgers - Paraprofessional Coaching Project is a randomized controlled trial of an innovative coaching program designed to enhance elementary school paraprofessional classroom aides' use of evidenced based behavioral interventions for students with externalizing behavior disorders (e.g., Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder). Students with Externalizing Behavior Disorders often have difficulties with peer and/or adult relationships, as well as self-control and academic issues. They are at high risk for school failure and drop out. The effectiveness of the coaching model on paraprofessional’s use of evidence based behavioral interventions will be evaluated based on a multi-method and multi-data source process during the fall, winter, and spring of the 2017-2018 school year. Data will be collected on teachers’ classrooms, paraprofessionals, and students through behavioral rating scales, direct behavior observational assessments, and online logging. This is a tremendous opportunity for students to obtain experience observing teachers and students, as well as gaining new skills in conducting meaningful school-based educational and psychological research.
The project is interested in recruiting highly motivated undergraduate research assistants to play a vital role in implementing the project with teachers, paraprofessionals, and researchers. This will be an outstanding opportunity for students who are interested in student behavioral assessment and behavior intervention research focused on improving classroom practices for students with Externalizing Behavior Disorders.
Undergraduate research assistants working with this project will:
- participate in a multi-site research project in elementary schools in Newark Public Schools;
- receive training and certification on a teacher observational assessment system;
- receive training and certification on two student observational assessment systems;
- conduct classroom observations of participating teachers in fall, winter, and spring of the 2017 – 2018 school year;
- conduct direct observations of participating students in fall, winter, and spring of the 2017-2018 school year;
- assist in the processing of research data, including teacher observations, student behavior rating scales, student observational data, surveys, and coaching integrity data.
- The Rutgers Paraprofessional Coaching Project is looking for undergraduate research assistants for the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 semesters.
- 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 Mr. Christopher Dudek.
Christopher Dudek, M.Ed.
Linda A. Reddy, Ph.D.
Professor & Principal Investigator – SSI Project
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 2017 and Spring 2018 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 2017 – 2018 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 2017 and Spring 2018 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 still recruiting research assistants for the Fall semester. 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.
The 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.
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.
Research assistants will:
- 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 for research assistants?
- Conducting classroom observations in high poverty elementary and middle schools.
- Data entry, management, and analysis in both quantitative and qualitative research methods in addition to conducting literature reviews.
- 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.
What are the procedures for applying?
Spring 2018 position deadline: Monday, November 13, 2017 by 5pm
[Application Form Link]
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.
Dr. David Vicario
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.
Dr. George Wagner
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.
Dr. Robert Woolfolk
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.