Research Opportunities

Research labs are continuing to operate despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Here you will find information about how undergraduates can pursue opportunities to be Research Assistants (also referred to as an "RA"). 

How to Start Getting Research Experience in Psychology 

see our pamphlet 'Tips for Lab Research Assistants'

Working in Psychological Research Labs across UVA Grounds

Working in a Psychology-related research lab on Grounds provides great work experience, whether or not you envision a career as a psychologist or researcher.  Research Assistant positions for undergraduates are available--through a selective application process--in the Department of Psychology, the Curry School of Education, the Darden School, Medical School and others.  As a Research Assistant, you learn important skills that are not easily taught in the classroom, such as operating technical equipment, speaking to and teaching study participants, coding and analyzing data, and designing experiments. 

RA experience is strongly recommended if you’re considering a Distinguished Major Project.  It is often a great enhancement of qualifications for graduate school, including for medicine, law and other professional schools.

In the directory below, each lab has articulated the qualifications it seeks in an RA and each has its own selective application process.

Earning Academic Credits (PSYC 3590)

If accepted to an RA position,  2 or 3 credits can be earned through PSYC-3590 (2 credits generally corresponds to 7 hours of RA work per week, 3 credits corresponds to 10 hours). 

Steps to earning academic credit (PSYC-3590) for an RA 

Step 1.  Using the directory below, contact the lab(s) that interest you and inquire about their application process.  If you are accepted for a position, then proceed to step 2.

When writing to a lab, here is a basic template to follow:

  • Keep your inquiry short, i.e., one paragraph and maybe a few bullet points. 
  • Always address the Professor by their title and greet them (e.g., Dear Professor Xxxxx).   
  • Introduce yourself briefly (year and major) and mention any relevant experience and/or interest in the laboratory’s field of study. If you are unable to think of anything specific, go back to their website and check their publications.  
  • Explain that you would like to join the lab as an RA and state the length of time you’re willing to commit (at least two semesters is a common expectation).  
  • Offer your CV or resume for consideration, as well as any other helpful information (previous mentors, etc.).  
  • Sign off with a greeting and your first name (e.g., Appreciatively, Xxxxx) 
  • If you get no response, and you are really interested in the lab, email again in a week or two. Professors are busy and your email might have slipped their radar. Total of three attempts is considered normal, but if you receive no response after that, choose another lab to contact. 

Step 2.  Once you have been accepted to work in a lab, add yourself to the SIS permission list for PSYC-3590 under the section for the lab professor*.

*If your research advisor is in a department other than Psychology (e.g., Curry School of Education, Medical School), ask your research advisor to contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Chris Mazurek for approval:

Step 3.  Your Lab Coordinator or Professor will then grant you permission to enroll.  Direct any questions about the process to your respective lab coordinators. 

Additional Resources: Psych Research List, Office of Undergrad Research

  • Psych Research List: Visit the Psych Research List and learn more about paid internships, virtual graduate school information sessions, and resources for applying to and succeeding in graduate school, a resource created by Meltem Yucel, a PhD candidate in the developmental psychology area at the University of Virginia.

  • Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR): If you are looking for funding or other resources related to your research then consider contacting the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR). The mission of OUR is to encourage, promote, and support undergraduate student research. The office serves the UVA community by offering programs and funding that facilitate engagement of undergraduates with research experiences in all areas of scholarship. The office offers services to undergraduates interested in research including personal consultations, informational sessions, workshops, forums for presentations, a database of research opportunities, and administration of research grants. The office is also home to the Undergraduate Research Network, a special status student organization.

Research Programs Directory

Behavioral Health Research

Center for Behavioral Health and Technology – Director Lee Ritterband. CBHT faculty include Karen Ingersoll, Phil Chow, and Kelly Shaffer. CBHT affiliated faculty include Kara Wiseman, Mehdi Boucheckba, and Megan Mattos.

Our projects span multiple focus areas in clinical and health psychology, engineering, nursing, and public health – these include topics such as Insomnia, Addiction Treatment, HIV Care Engagement, Cancer Survivorship, Mood and Anxiety, and Global Health. Current and recent eHealth projects include a large national trial to evaluate an Internet intervention for insomnia for older adults, skin cancer prevention projects, and a game to reduce asthma attacks in children. Current and recent mHealth projects include studies of mobile apps to reduce binge drinking among college students, reduce depression and anxiety among breast cancer survivors, increase smoking cessation, support HIV prevention medication adherence, and improve HIV clinical outcomes. RA responsibilities include pilot testing our mobile and Internet interventions, participating in multidisciplinary study team meetings, attending seminars with guest speakers, conducting literature searches, helping with manuscript preparation, organizing and coding data, and more. Interested and highly motivated students can often work with one or more faculty members to analyze and present data through posters, conference presentations, or manuscripts. We prefer to recruit 2nd and 3rd year students, but will consider excellent 4th year students with a strong interest in the eHealth/mHealth field. Summer hours may be available (and sometimes for a paid position).RA positions require 10 hours per week during the academic semester, attending a weekly student meeting, and a minimum 2 semester commitment. RAs complete their hours in our Center offices located at 560 Ray C Hunt Drive, in the Fontaine Research Park. If interested, please complete our online interest form at:

Contact: Laurie Bennett


Center for Behavioral Medicine Research - CBMR faculty include Daniel Cox (director) and Chiara Fabris.  CBMR affiliated faculty include Tamara Oser and Boris Kovatchev.

This interdisciplinary NIH research team includes psychology, engineering, endocrinology, family medicine, health economics, public health and mathematics.  July 2022 we begin a 5 year NIH project that investigates a paradigm shift in the lifestyle management of type 2 diabetes, compared to traditional medication management.  While conventional lifestyle interventions focus on losing weight by either reducing caloric or carbohydrate intake, our Glycemic Excursion Minimization (GEM) focuses on reducing blood glucose excursions by diminishing how much blood glucose goes up and hastening its recovery following nutrient intake.  It is an empowerment program that provides patients personally relevant information about their behavior and physiology to make choices to improve one’s metabolic control.  We are developing psychometrics to evaluate the impact of the intervention, training material to aid patients, websites to provide supplemental information, text messaging to prompt behavior change, and mathematical algorithms to provide patients timely and impacting information from their activity and continuous glucose monitors

RA responsibilities include pilot testing our mobile and Internet interventions, participating in multidisciplinary study team meetings, attending seminars with guest speakers, conducting literature searches, helping with manuscript preparation, organizing and coding data, and more. Interested and highly motivated students can often work with one or more faculty members to analyze and present data through posters, conference presentations, or manuscripts. We prefer to recruit 2nd and 3rd year students, but will consider excellent 4th year students with a strong interest in Health Psychology. Summer hours may be available (and sometimes for a paid position).  RA positions require 10-12 hours per week during the academic semester, and a minimum 2 semester commitment.

If interested, please contact Daniel Cox,

Child and Family Studies Lab - Robert Emery

Our broad research interests include children, families, family relationships, family conflict, and various psychological processes of special importance to families such as the genetic vs. environmental contributions to development and psychopathology.  Special consideration is often given to ways in which research findings are applicable to legal/policy issues.  Currently, our research specifically addresses the “marriage benefit,” the physical and mental health advantages associated with being married.  This work tackles the basic but essential question of whether marriage actually causes benefits well-documented to be correlated with it (such as less depression, greater longevity, and increased income) or whether these marriage benefits result from nonrandom selections into marriage.  We predominantly use the twin design to purse a variety of specific questions related to the marriage benefit.

RA duties include conducting literature searches, data entry and checking, facilitating studies, and other administrative tasks. 

Contact:  Prof. Emery, 

Early Steps Lab - Melvin Wilson

The Early Steps Project is a multisite, longitudinal study of 731 ethnically-diverse families from urban (Pittsburgh, PA), suburban (Eugene, OR), and rural (Charlottesville, VA) sites. Families with a child between ages 2.0 years and 2 years, 11 months were recruited from WIC stations at each site on the basis of their ability to meet eligibility criteria for child, family, and sociodemographic risk. As children are now entering into adolescence we propose to test the hypothesis that periodic, tailored, and adaptive interventions delivered to caregivers of children from toddlerhood to school entry: (a) will have long-term preventive effects on alcohol and drug use, high-risk sexual behavior, and other types of problem behavior; (b) will show intervention effects that are mediated by increases in parents’ use of positive behavior support and prosocial peer affiliation; and (c) will test whether intervention effects are moderated by genetic and contextual risk.

Eligible students should have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00, be psychology major or intend to be psychology major, completed 9 hours of psychology courses (ideally completed PSYC 3005/3006), be 2nd or 3rd year (4th year students sometimes considered). Research assistants must be available at least two days a week between 1 PM–8 PM, and being available on weekends is also desirable because they are involved in data collection in participants’ homes. Research Assistants must feel comfortable working with children/youth and to working with a very diverse population. We encourage students to consider working with us for at least 2 consecutive years. Fluent Spanish speakers also are encouraged to apply.

Responsibilities for Research assistants may include conducting reviews of empirical articles, support project staff in data collection by filming assessments or providing childcare in participants’ homes, as well as lab-based tasks such as preparing materials for assessments, data entry, phone interviews with parents and children, filing, copying videos, and other similar lab support tasks.

Contact: Margarita Caldentey,

Program for Anxiety, Cognition, and Treatment - Bethany Teachman

Our lab studies cognitive processes, such as biased interpretations, that influence the development and maintenance of psychopathology, particularly anxiety and mood disorders.  Current projects focus on how to track and change mood and cognitive biases using technology (e.g., mobile phone sensing and computer-based interventions) to improve emotion regulation.

RAs help with study design, recruiting and running subjects and attend weekly lab meetings to gain general experience with conducting research. There are also opportunities for advanced RAs to develop their own projects.

Contact:   Julia Schildwachter      


Promoting Healthy Adolescent Development (PHAD) Lab - Noelle Hurd

We study factors that contribute to the healthy development of adolescents and emerging adults. Foci of the lab include the promotion of mental health, the prevention of health-­risk behaviors, and the protective influence of social relationships. One particular area of interest is how college experiences may relate to the social, occupational, mental, and physical health outcomes of emerging adults.  In addition, we are interested in bystander interventions for online harassment. 

We encourage motivated, responsible, reliable, curious, and enthusiastic students with an interest in the core areas of our lab’s research to contact our Project Coordinator(s). Responsibilities for undergraduate researchers may include 1) managing study materials 2) data management 3) conducting reviews of empirical articles 4) interacting with participants 5) and creative problem-solving. It is important that RAs feel comfortable working with diverse populations. RAs will work closely with graduate students.  In addition, more experienced RAs may have opportunities to develop their own projects and present findings at conferences.


Contact: Project Coordinator(s),

Relationships, Ecologies, and Activities for Developing Youth (READY) Lab - Nancy L. Deutsch and Valerie A. Futch

We are interested in how settings and interactions can be optimized to best meet adolescents’ developmental needs. In particular, we are focused on the role that relationships (with peers, mentors, non-familial adults) and activities play in adolescent development. We come from a youth-centered, promotive frame, grounded in the fields of positive youth development (PYD) and relational and developmental psychology. Our goal is to understand how adolescents themselves select, sustain, and are influenced by the important settings and relationships in their lives. We are particularly focused on out-of-school (OST) contexts and on how settings, such as after-school programs, can serve as spaces for youth to build positive relationships and identities. Further, we aim to understand these relationships in an ecological sense—exploring the connections between individual level factors and social conditions—and an applied lens, with a goal of working with and for local communities and programs. Current projects include a longitudinal, mixed methods study of youth-adult relationships (e.g. informal mentoring from coaches, teachers, etc.). This project includes a variety of survey and interview data as well as social mapping and network techniques. Recent projects include a youth participatory evaluation project with a local music-based after-school program.

RA tasks include data entry and cleaning (survey data), qualitative coding of interview data, literature reviews, assisting in conceptualizing and writing conference and journal papers. Depending on experience, RAs may potentially assist with data collection (survey administration, conducting interviews) and data analysis (mixed-methods).

Contact:  Prof. Deutsch, or Prof. Futch,

Sexual Orientation, Human Development, and Family Lives Lab - Charlotte J. Patterson

Our research focuses on issues related to sexual orientation, human development, and family lives. How does sexual orientation influence family formation and family lives? How is this affected by the legal and public policy climates in which children, youth, and families live? These are some questions under study in our group. Several studies are underway now.

In one current study, we are working with a group of adoptive families, in which parents are lesbian, gay or heterosexual couples.  We are interested in learning more about family processes, contextual factors, and child development in these families.  They were studied when the children were preschoolers, and have been revisited when the children were in elementary school.  We hope to learn how the lives of these parents and their children unfold over time.

In another set of projects, we are investigating the sexual and reproductive health needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. This research aims to understand sexual minority experiences with reproductive health services, infertility, and assisted reproductive technologies. Future work in this area will involve interacting with sexual minority-identified adolescents, so as to determine psychosocial influences on their reproductive health and family planning over time.

We welcome the involvement of motivated, organized, efficient, and friendly undergraduate students as part of our research team. Research assistants usually work closely with a graduate student, and their duties may include reading original research studies, preparing materials for new studies, recruiting participants, transcribing and coding data, and assisting in data analysis. There are also opportunities for advanced RAs to develop their own projects.


Sueyoung (Sue) Oh:

Yanbin (Barbara) Li:



Virginia Alcohol and Trauma (VAT) Laboratory - Erin Berenz

The Virginia Alcohol and Trauma (VAT) Laboratory is committed to conducting interdisciplinary, clinically relevant research that informs our understanding of the etiology and maintenance of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorders in adolescents and young adults. We incorporate clinical laboratory paradigms, psychophysiology, and psychiatric genetics methods to study processes underlying risk for these disorders.

We are currently seeking highly motivated, responsible research assistants to help with a NIAAA-funded investigation of genetic and environmental influences on trauma and alcohol cue reactivity among college students exposed to interpersonal trauma (e.g., sexual or physical assault). Primary duties include: participant recruitment, participant screening, data entry, administrative tasks, literature reviews, and participation in weekly lab meetings. Highly motivated and dedicated students may gain the opportunity to participate in more advanced laboratory duties. Psychology majors are preferred. A minimum commitment of one year (i.e., two semesters) is required.

Contact: Salpi Kevorkian,


Virginia Institute of Development in Adulthood - Joseph Allen

The VIDA Project is a longitudinal study following adolescents from age 13 into adulthood (ages 27-32) examining the influence of peer relationships, autonomy, and attachment processes on long-term psychosocial development and mental and physical health outcomes. We are exploring how young adults develop and manage friendships with their peers, and how family relationships influence qualities of these peer relationships and mental health outcomes such as anxiety, depression, alcohol and substance use and externalizing behavior. Most recently, we have begun examining the ways that social relationships predict physical health outcomes, and we now examine our participants’ heart rate variability under stress, as well as markers of inflammation and immune functioning. We use a variety of measurement methods, including self-reports, semi-structured interviews, parent-reports, peer reports, and observations of family and peer interactions and physical health assessments.   We have now been following our original sample of 184 participants for over 15 years and have 98% of them still active in the study.

RA tasks include conducting interviews with participants, data entry and checking, transcribing, and other administrative tasks. We train RAs in physical health assessments (e.g., EKG assessments of heart rate variability), and to use computer programs and protocols for conducting interviews with participants.  RAs who work on the project for multiple semesters often have the opportunity to take on higher level responsibilities (such as coding data, scheduling participants, and writing a thesis) and may apply for paid positions.

Contact: Project Coordinator, 

Phone: 434 982 5789


Brain Science Research

Auditory Neuroethology Lab - Daniel Meliza

We are interested in neural mechanisms of pattern recognition in the auditory system. The lab has ongoing experiments in: 1) categorical perception in European starlings; 2) intracellular physiology and anatomy of the zebra finch auditory system; and 3) dynamical systems modeling of neuron biophysics.

Research assistant responsibilities include care and husbandry of animals, design and implementation of experiments, and data analysis. All members of the lab attend seminar series and lab meetings and are expected to present their results on a regular basis. Applicants must be responsible and self-motivated. 

Contact: Dan Meliza,


Behavioral Neuroscience Lab - Cedric Williams

The U.S. Army is engaged in extensive humanitarian demining efforts to remove hidden explosives left during war and restore these areas to stable societies. To meet the objectives of the U. S. Army, the Williams’ Lab is involved in a collaborative effort to train African Giant Pouched Rats and standard laboratory rodents to detect target scents associated with explosive odorants using automated methods. Our lab designs, updates, provides quantitative analysis and implements the behavioral components of olfactory discrimination learning in the detection of hidden explosives. The overall goals of our research are to provide the Dept. of Defense and Armed Forces with proven approaches to detect hidden explosives through the use of bio-detecting rodents; to use our behavioral learning strategies in conjunction with the ADROIT automated computer system to prepare African rats to successfully pass Odor Recognition Tests (ORT) in the same manner as explosive trained canines; and to develop rodents to a level of proficiency necessary to be deployed in the field by the Dept. of Defense to detect hidden land mines.

Contact: Prof. Williams,


Brain as Data Science Lab - John Van Horn 

Modern research using magnetic resonance imaging technologies, high-density recording of electrical signals, measurements of brain metabolism, and other ‘big dta’ methods are now the norm in many studies of the brain.  Relating these measurements to cognitive function in health and in disease, the study of the human brain now, more than ever, depends upon a science of data.  Researchers now collect more brain imaging data on a single subject in one hour than all the data someone even 20 years ago might have collected in their career.  to make sense of this flood of brain measurements, integrate them across spatial and temporal scales, couple them to various other -omic datatypes,  and turn them into actual scientific discovery, we must construct new databases, employ high-performance computing, develop efficient algorithms, apply novel mathematical tools, and apply them broadly.  By so doing, a greater understanding of the thing that makes us most human is possible.  

Contact: Prof Van Horn, for current projects,

Developmental Neuroanalytics Lab - Meghan Puglia

The Developmental Neuroanalytics Lab aims to identify and characterize the neurobiological and developmental factors that drive individual differences in social, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes across the lifespan. We take a multidimensional and interdisciplinary approach, spanning the fields of cognitive psychology, human neuroscience, molecular epigenetics, and developmental science.

We are always looking for motivated undergraduate research assistants. No previous research experience is necessary, and we particularly encourage first- and second-year students and those who can commit to multiple semesters/years in the lab to get involved. Research can be completed for academic credit through the psychologyneurosciencecognitive science, or biology departments, or on a volunteer basis. Research assistants gain an in-depth understanding of the research process, hands-on experience conducting human neuroscience and developmental science research, and valuable and transferable skills including the ability to think critically and work effectively in a team. Primary responsibilities include helping to run experiments, recruit participants, and analyze data. Particularly motivated individuals may become more involved in the lab. For example, past students have completed Distinguished Majors Projects, successfully applied for undergraduate research awards, and presented research posters at national conferences.

Apply Here



Epigenetic Modulation Lab - Jess Connelly

Oxytocin is a neuropeptide that has been implicated in the development and expression of social behavior. Oxytocin modulates various behaviors through its association with its single known receptor, which shows remarkable variation in distribution and density across and within species. The oxytocin receptor is encoded by OXTR, which in humans contains a methylation specific regulatory region (MT2 region) within its promotor. We have shown that increases in MT2 DNA methylation lead to decreases of gene expression in the human brain and in an animal model that blood can be used as a biomarker for the brain methylation and transcription state. Previous studies from our lab and others indicate that altered levels of DNA methylation in OXTR are a risk factor for several psychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorder, postpartum depression, schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, anorexia nervosa,  and psychopathy. Our laboratory has also shown that OXTR methylation is related to neural endophenotypes of social perception in typicals. Importantly, social perception is also commonly dysregulated in the disorders listed. The factors that regulate the expression of the oxytocin receptor, rather than oxytocin itself, may provide an improved explanation for the variability in social behavior displayed both within and between species. 



Laboratory of Cognitive Neurodynamics - William B. Levy

Our laboratory studies the biological bases of cognition and behavior using computational models. A large, and continuing project is to understand hippocampal function with simulations based on neurons and synapses. Another project seeks to understand the role of memory in PTSD and its symptoms, particularly hyper-reactivity and poor sleep. This work is building models of the brainstem systems controlling sleep and the peripheral stress reactions.

Reading courses are available for students who seek a strong background before entering the lab. Occasionally enough such work can culminate in a small review article which can be submitted for publication. Laboratory research consists of computer simulations and data analysis. Student who do exceptional research work during the year may qualify for a paid summer research position.

Contact: Prof. Levy,

Long Term Memory Lab - Nicole Long

Our research aims to understand how we use strategic, goal directed processes to form and retrieve memories. By using a combination of recording techniques including scalp EEG and fMRI, along with multiple data analytic techniques, the lab answers questions about how global brain states and organizational strategies underlie our ability to successfully form and retrieve memories.

We seek motivated RAs to help with various research projects. RAs are involved in recruiting participants, collecting behavioral and electroencephalographic (EEG) data, and analyzing data.



Neural Development and Organization Lab - Peter Brunjes

Our lab is involved in probing a number of issues surrounding the organization and development of sensory systems in the brain. Sensory systems are useful models for examining how the brain works: they often have clear cut circuitry, and it is relatively simple to manipulate the amount and type of information processed by the system. Our work centers around the olfactory system, which offers a number of unique features that make it an excellent model for studying the development and organization of the brain. Most of our recent work centers on studying the basic organizational features of the system, including understanding how odors are encoded in the olfactory cortex, and whether these representations change with olfactory experience.

When first joining the lab, RAs are usually responsible for participating in one aspect of an ongoing project as they are trained in various laboratory techniques. Once proficient, RAs often have the opportunity of developing more independent projects, many of which have become Distinguished Major projects.   

Contact: Prof. Brunjes,

Sensory Circuitries and Molecular Remodeling Lab - Adema Ribic

Visual circuits are assembled using precise genetic programming, but they are continuously refined by visual experience. Our team studies this process of refinement at the level of molecules that build synapses: cell-surface expressed synaptic adhesion molecules. The goal of our work is to identify the differential, synapse-specific combinations of cell adhesion molecules that coordinate remodeling of synapses during developmental learning and maturation of visual function.

Contact: Prof. Adema Ribic,


Sensory Development and Plasticity Lab - Alev Erisir

Postnatal development of the brain is characterized by plastic stages during which abnormal sensory stimulation can lead to life-long changes in the organization of brain circuitry. Our lab aims to understand the biological mechanisms that enable this plasticity. What makes some young neurons lose their ability to respond to alterations in the sensory environment at the end of critical periods? What are the mechanisms by which sensitive periods of plasticity are initiated and terminated? What are the molecular and cellular players in processes that enable long-term structural changes in brain synaptic circuitry? Using anatomical techniques including immuno-electron microscopy, serial EM reconstructions, tract-tracing and confocal microscopy, we aim to reveal the changes that occur in visual and gustatory system connectivity, neurotransmitter receptor and other pre/postsynaptic protein localizations during and after sensitive periods of plasticity, and during the aging process of these model systems.

Upon joining the lab, RAs are assigned to an ongoing project. At the initial stages of the training, RAs learn tissue preparation techniques, light and electron microscope use, 3D reconstructions using connectomics approaches and digital image analysis. Typically after several months of active contribution, RAs start formulating a project that they may use as their Distinguished Major thesis. Attending our regular lab meetings is also recommended. At least two semesters of commitment is required.

Interested? Apply here. or see

Contact: Prof. Erisir,

Social Neuroscience Lab - James Morris

Our lab focuses on the neural bases of normal and social function using a multimodal approach. By using such techniques as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electroencephalography (EEG), scalp-recorded event-related potentials (ERP), and eye-tracking, we seek to understand how social behavior and brain processes interact. Past studies have focused on pretend play in adults, face recognition for in-group and out-group members, imitation, and self-transcendence.

Undergraduate RAs play an integral role in the lab. Duties include running subjects, data collection and analysis, stimuli creation as well as the opportunity to work alongside graduate students and create original research ideas. Experience with programming is preferred.

Contact: Brandon Ng,   


Virginia Affective Neuroscience Laboratory - James Coan

Our research focuses on the neural bases of emotional behavior, regulation, and experience, including a particular interest in the social regulation of neural processes underlying emotional responses. These interests integrate a variety of tools and methods, including observational behavior coding to electroencephalography (EEG) to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

RAs are typically involved in a number of activities, including running experiments, entering and analyzing data, and completing literature searches. There tends to be an emphasis on learning about and utilizing psychophysiological methods.

Contact: Allison Belkowitz,


Child Development Research

Babylab - Tobias Grossmann

We research the brain processes underpinning social interaction and cognition during infancy. Studies are designed to examine a range of situations in which infants glean information from faces, voices, or biological motion, as well as genetic and environmental factors that give rise to individual differences.

RAs will have the opportunity to help out with study design, recruiting families, running the experiments, and analyzing data. As RAs become more experienced in the lab, there will be opportunities to take a more advanced role in the research process.

Contact: Hailey Costello, Lab Coordinator, (she, her)                          


Developmental Neuroanalytics Lab - Meghan Puglia

The Developmental Neuroanalytics Lab aims to identify and characterize the neurobiological and developmental factors that drive individual differences in social, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes across the lifespan. We take a multidimensional and interdisciplinary approach, spanning the fields of cognitive psychology, human neuroscience, molecular epigenetics, and developmental science.

We are always looking for motivated undergraduate research assistants. No previous research experience is necessary, and we particularly encourage first- and second-year students and those who can commit to multiple semesters/years in the lab to get involved. Research can be completed for academic credit through the psychologyneurosciencecognitive science, or biology departments, or on a volunteer basis. Research assistants gain an in-depth understanding of the research process, hands-on experience conducting human neuroscience and developmental science research, and valuable and transferable skills including the ability to think critically and work effectively in a team. Primary responsibilities include helping to run experiments, recruit participants, and analyze data. Particularly motivated individuals may become more involved in the lab. For example, past students have completed Distinguished Majors Projects, successfully applied for undergraduate research awards, and presented research posters at national conferences.

Apply Here



Early Development Lab - Angeline Lillard

We study Montessori education as well as how children’s pretending, fantasy, imagination, and interactions with media influence their cognitive and social development. Student research assistants (RAs) help recruit participants, test children in the lab, and help with coding and data entry. We also collaborate with the Virginia Discovery Museum in downtown Charlottesville, and RAs have the opportunity to conduct research at the museum. Students will work closely with one or two graduate students on their current research projects. Applicants should have experience working with children. The Early Development Lab is in Gilmer Hall.



Early Social Development Lab - Amrisha Vaish

The research in our lab focuses on the social, emotional, and moral development of children. In particular, we focus on the early development of the moral emotions, cognitions, and behaviors that make children successful cooperators. This includes the emergence of social emotions such as sympathy and guilt, of moral evaluations, and of moral behaviors such as prosocial behavior and the enforcement of moral norms. Of particular interest are children’s understanding of and responses to third-party moral situations as these are the litmus test for impersonal morality, which may well be unique to humans. We are also interested in how children understand others’ internal states, such as their emotions and desires.

RAs will have the opportunity to help out with study design, recruiting families, running the experiments, and analyzing data. As RAs become more experienced in the lab, there will be opportunities to take a more advanced role in the research process.

Contact: Hailey Costello, Lab Coordinator, (she, her)

Website: Early Social Development Lab

Jaswal Lab - Vikram Jaswal

Our research focuses on the cognitive and social processes underlying communication to better understand and support individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. RAs have the opportunity to help design studies, run experiments, and analyze data. Students interested in cognitive development or cognitive science are encouraged to apply. A year-long commitment is required.



Perception and Cognition Themes

Behavioral Genetics Lab - Eric Turkheimer

Our lab uses behavior genetics methods (i.e., twin studies) to investigate individual differences in human behavior, and the relative influence of genetic and environmental factors on those differences. We are currently using sophisticated statistical models to predict adolescent intelligence and school achievement from early childhood environment (e.g., socioeconomic status, parenting), cognitive ability, and temperament. RAs have the opportunity to work alongside graduate students and Professor Turkheimer on ongoing projects as well as new research ideas that may develop. Responsibilities primarily include data management and analysis (data have already been collected, so RAs do not run subjects), as well as literature searches and attendance at weekly lab meetings.

Contact: Sophie Bell (graduate student),  

Memory Processes Lab - Chad Dodson

Our research focuses on memory with an emphasis on the occurrence of false memories, overconfidence in one’s memories and changes in memory across the lifespan. For example, some of our research examines eyewitness memory. We have observed with a typical eyewitness suggestibility paradigm that older adults are much more likely than younger adults to assert confidently that they remember witnessing an event that was only suggested to them. Some of our current projects are examining whether this age-related effect generalizes to more naturalistic eyewitness settings and whether there are variables that can minimize the occurrence of these kinds of high confidence errors.

We are looking for engaging, thoughtful and motivated research assistants. RAs are involved in designing new studies, recruiting participants and entering and analyzing data.

Contact: Christine DeFluri, 


Virginia Cognitive Aging Project -  Per Sederberg, Jamie Morris, Chad Dodson, Hudson Golino

We study aging of cognitive functioning by administering a wide variety of cognitive tasks to participants ranging in age from 18-90+. The tasks assess different types of cognitive abilities, such as memory and spatial abilities. Among the questions that we are interested in are: 1) Which aspects of cognitive functioning are affected by aging? 2) When does age-related cognitive change begin? And 3) what factors affect the rate of cognitive aging?

Research assistants are primarily responsible for administering tests to participants in the project as well as scheduling appointments, scoring tests, and entering and checking data. Prospective RAs should have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, be mature and responsible, and have an interest in interacting with diverse populations from the community. Because the laboratory is located behind Barracks Road Shopping Center, reliable transportation is needed.

Research assistants can work for either credit or pay, and there are opportunities to work full-time for pay during the summer.


Website: in revision

Quantitative Psychology and Data Science Research

Dynamics Lab - Steven Boker

Our research explores how people coordinate their movements and facial expressions during conversation. RAs will be involved in all parts of the project including learning to use state of the art computer software that tracks the body movements and facial expressions. We are looking for motivated students interested in the psychology of social interaction as well as the technical aspects of laboratory science in psychology.

The project is in collaboration with researchers at the University of Rochester, University of Zurich, and Max Planck Institute in Berlin, so RAs will also have a chance to meet faculty and graduate students from other institutions. Priority will be given to students who can commit to at least two semesters.

Contact: Prof. Boker,

Psychometric Lab - Karen Schmidt

Our research involves item response theory (IRT) measurement, focusing on methodology to enhance construct validity and measurement of individual differences. Current and ongoing projects include objective measurement of a wide variety of topics, including personality and individual experiences of pain, faking good detection in personality inventory responses, self-efficacy, reasoning and spatial visualization, AIDs knowledge, and international learning experiences in varying age groups.

RAs gain experience in all aspects of the research process, including data management, and learn sophisticated statistical and measurement procedures such as multiple regression, item response theory modeling, and structural equation modeling. RAs learn how to search and summarize research articles, create internet design of surveys, extract data via the internet, and do data analysis via R Studio (including data coding, transformation, IRT analysis, and graphing), and creating reports and presentations. Reliable, independent, and creative assistance is strongly considered for co-authorship. Interested students should have completed PSYC 2005, and preferably PSYC 3006.

Contact: Prof. Schmidt,

Quantitative Methods Development Lab - Hudson Golino

Our research  focuses on quantitative methods, psychometrics and machine learning applied in the fields of psychology, health and education. He is particularly interested in new ways to assess the number of dimensions (i.e. latent variables) underlying multivariate data using network psychometrics.

Contact: Prof. Golino,

Social and Personality Themes

The APPLE Lab (Applied Public Policy and Leadership Experiments) - Gabrielle Adams

The APPLE Lab (Applied Public Policy and Leadership Experiments) is searching for 1-2 new research assistants for the coming academic year. Our lab’s research centers on morality and social justice. We investigate how people attempt address wrongdoing, and why their responses are sometimes ineffective.

We are looking for psychology majors and minors with an interest in social psychology to join our team! As a research assistant, you will be responsible for preparing and conducting lab experiments, coding videos/participant responses, entering data, and attending weekly lab meetings. First generation students and students of color are strongly encouraged to apply! A one-year commitment to the lab is required.

Contact for inquiries. A resume and/or CV will be requested during application process. Applicants will ideally have taken PSYC2600, LPPL3100, or other social psychology courses.

Behavioral Research at Darden (BRAD) - Morela Hernandez

The BRAD Lab is an interdisciplinary laboratory supporting behavioral research at Darden School of Business. We study organizational behavior, marketing, business ethics, judgment and decision-making, behavioral operations, and entrepreneurship. Research assistants contribute to faculty research, and use behavioral research to create knowledge that advances managerial and business practices.

We are looking for motivated research assistants interested in working with faculty across research areas. This position entails running studies, conducting literature searches, entering data, working on annotated bibliographies, attending meetings with BRAD faculty and staff, and recruiting participants into the SONA subject pool. 

For more information, please contact Lab Coordinator, Mai Pham at


Culture and Well-Being Lab - Shigehiro Oishi

We are conducting experiments on the following projects: 1) Misunderstanding and understanding in interpersonal perception; 2) Cultural differences in happiness; 3) Residential mobility and its relation to prosocial behavior and consumer behavior; and 4) Physiological measures of well-being.

RA responsibilities include preparing experimental materials, conducting experiments, entering data, coding, and data acquisition. Applicants must be responsible and motivated about doing psychological research. 

Contact: Youngjae Cha,


Emotion and Behavior Lab - Adrienne Wood

People need social connections. The EB Lab studies the dynamic process of building and maintaining social connections at multiple levels of analysis: at the level single interactions, we examine how people use laughter, conversation, and synchrony to connect; at the level of social networks, we examine how people build ties to a community; and at the level of societies, we examine the social consequences of cultural diversity. We use a wide range of methods, including acoustic analysis, automated facial expression coding, dyadic interactions, social network analysis, and mobile sensing. 

The EB Lab hires motivated and enthusiastic undergraduate research assistants who can commit 10 hours a week in exchange for course credit. Our RAs participate in a wide range of research-related tasks, including running participants, processing data, creating stimuli, reading articles, and generating research ideas. RAs who demonstrate independence are welcome to propose research projects or take on a leadership role in an ongoing project.

Contact: Adrienne Wood, [Check here to see if this lab is currently accepting undergraduate applicants]


Implicit Social Cognition Lab - Brian Nosek

We are examining how conscious or non-conscious aspects of people’s attitudes can influence judgments and behavior. Although attitudes include aspects that they can report, we are particularly interested in the influence of automatic, non-conscious attitudes, especially when they differ from the attitudes people can directly report.

RAs are involved in running experiments, entering and analyzing data, and helping create new studies. Other duties might include data entry, literature searches, article reviews, and study design. Interested students can also assist in programming computer studies related to behavioral research. RAs attend lab meetings with faculty and graduate students to gain research experience and expertise.


This lab is not currently in need of undergraduate research assistants. 

Judgment and Decision Experimental Lab - Eileen Y. Chou

Our interdisciplinary lab focuses on the organizational, social, and psychological forces that regulate individual and group behavior. Our research approach integrates several behavioral regulators, including incentives (economics), structure (organizational theory), and person-context fit (social psychology). For instance, we investigate how people can (ironically) decrease their economic risks by putting themselves in a more rather than a less vulnerable position. Our other on-going projects include 1) whether having superstars in the organization is an effective mechanism of social organization 2) can self-control boost creativity, 3) what are some of the unanticipated benefits to swearing, and 4) is it really “lonely at the top.”

As a research assistant of this lab, you will receive hands-on training in social psychology and business management. You will also partake in the development of theoretical discoveries and the advancement of scientific knowledge. Your role includes preparing and conducting lab experiments, coding videos, entering data, and attending lab meetings. We are looking for young scholars who are organized and responsible. Computer experience, analytical skills, and ability to work with a team preferred.

Contact: Weishan Zhang (she/her/hers/they/them/theirs​) 

Personality and Genetics Lab - Eric Turkheimer

Our research interests are divided into two main areas of study: behavioral genetics and personality assessment. From a behavioral genetics standpoint, we attempt to understand and predict adolescent externalizing behaviors such as risk-taking and substance abuse using genetically informed designs and sophisticated statistical models. Our interest in personality assessment drives us to explore new methods of personality disorder measurement and classification using both self- and peer-report.

RAs will have the opportunity to gain valuable research experience. Their integration into the lab consists of working alongside graduate students and faculty on ongoing projects as well as new research ideas that may develop. Typical RA duties include data entry and analysis, literature searches, and information gathering. While not mandatory, strong quantitative skills are recommended.

Contact: Prof. Turkheimer,

Research on Intersectionality, Sexuality, & Empowerment (RISE) Lab - Lanice Avery

Our lab interests are at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and media. Specifically, we are interested in exploring Black women’s intersectional identities and how negotiating gender expectations and racial stereotypes impact mental and sexual health. Current RISE Lab projects focus on understanding the ways in which gender-based psychological and sociocultural factors inform the sexual beliefs, experiences, and health practices of young Black women: (1) the health consequences associated with negotiating paradoxical expectations to perform hegemonic femininity (e.g., nurturing, submissive, communal) and stoicism (e.g., strong Black woman/superwoman stereotype); (2) the role of popular and social media in the socialization of disempowering gender, sex, and romantic relationship beliefs; (3) how the idealization of narrow feminine beauty and body standards contributes to adverse emotional (e.g., feelings of guilt and shame), cognitive (e.g., body surveillance and dissatisfaction), and behavioral (e.g., coercion, low sexual self-efficacy and assertiveness) experiences during sexual intimacy; and (4) the impact of the digital media landscape on Black women’s intersectional identity development and mental health.

RAs will have the opportunity to develop new skills and experience in research that promotes healthy gender and sexual development among socially marginalized and stigmatized groups. RAs attend weekly lab meetings with faculty and graduate students and participate in many aspects of the research process, including but not limited to, data management, data analysis, preparing and conducting surveys, literature searches, and article reviews.

Contact: Alexis Stanton,

Social Behavior and Decisions Lab - Benjamin Converse

Work in our lab revolves around goal pursuit and decision-making, across individual-, cooperative-, and competitive environments. For example, how do people evaluate their helpers and their rivals? Does the way people think about their rivals affect their style of competition or their motivation to win? What factors influence people’s emotional and behavioral responses to receiving help from others? More generally, we examine the consequences of motivation and decision-making in contexts as diverse as voting behavior, academic motivation, and consumer decision making. We conduct lab experiments, field studies, and online studies, and make an effort to extend our investigations beyond undergraduate samples to also include community samples and specialized samples such as professional organizations.

RAs will have the opportunity to participate in weekly lab meetings and many phases of the research process, including preparing and conducting experiments and surveys, managing study data, and working with the research team to refine experimental procedures. As RAs become more experienced in the lab, there will be opportunities to take a more advanced role in the research process.

Contact: Weishan Zhang (she/her/hers/they/them/theirs) 


Social Cognition and Behavior Lab - Sophie Trawalter

In our lab, we examine psychological processes that contribute to prejudice and discrimination, and ultimately, social disparities. For example, in one line of research, we examine common perceptions (and misperceptions) that contribute to social disparities. We have considered how racial bias in perceptions of others’ pain can give rise to racial disparities in healthcare, how socioeconomic differences in perceptions of public space can give rise to socioeconomic disparities in education, and how gender differences in perceptions of safety can give rise to gender disparities in academia, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. In other lines of research, we are considering how colorism shapes judgments, why and how people confront (or fail to confront) prejudice, and how confederate monuments and their removal shape perceptions of race relations.

Contact: SCABL Lab Manager,

Social Hierarchies and Behavior - Jazmin Brown-Iannuzzi

Our lab seeks to understand why social group disparities may persist, and in some cases grow. For example, in one line of research we investigate the psychological entanglement between race and social class and how this entanglement influences political attitudes. In another line of work we investigate how economic inequality influences risk taking and health decisions. And, in a third line of work we investigate how economic circumstances influence political and religious attitudes. Finally, our lab values diversity and inclusion. We are always looking for people who are interested in studying topics related to group-based inequalities. 

To learn more about our lab, please visit the lab website:

If you are interested in applying to be a research assistant in our lab, please email: 

Social Psychology Lab - Timothy Wilson

Our lab invites motivated, sharp, and sociable undergraduates to help us prepare and run studies that explore people’s emotions and thoughts. We study people’s knowledge about their own feelings, behaviors, abilities and personalities. Our research focus is on emotional reaction to different events in life, and an individual's ability to predict his or her own reaction.

RAs are involved in all parts of the research process. Their main responsibility is to run social psychology studies, process and analyze the results, and see how the results fit social psychology theories. There are also lab meetings where research issues are discussed.

Contact:  Lee Williams -


Education Psychology Research

Augmentative and Alternative Communication - Filip Loncke

We focus on processes that are involved when individuals communicate through non-standard modalities. We are running two major projects: (1) the development and field-testing of communication boards as an assessment tool for individuals without functional speech. Through picture-and-word communication boards, basic skills such as picture preference, choice making, categorization, memory, combinatorial awareness, and literacy are measured. The boards are being field tested in five countries (and three languages). We analyze and process the feedback from clinicians and educators, and measure validity and reliability of the instrument; (2) Cognitive processes involved in message generating when using a communication device. How do people navigate through a communication device to compose or find a message? Does one use a semantic strategy (remembering where a message with the specific is stored) or does one use a motor strategy (like automatic typing on a computer)? We compare the results of experiments where different strategies are facilitated.

Contact: Prof. Loncke,

Preventive Interventions Team: Collaborative Research on Engagement and Wellbeing (PIT CREW) - Amanda J. Nguyen, PhD

The Preventive Interventions Team: Collaborative Research on Engagement and Wellbeing (PIT CREW) is a multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary research lab with a focus on prevention interventions that optimize implementation of evidence-based practices to improve behavior, classroom, and school experiences for youth and school personnel, and/or reduce risk for behavioral and mental health problems. Members of our team often collaboratively engage in research focused on one or more of the following topic areas or themes.  

  • Culturally Responsive Practices, Equity & Disproportionality. We seek to understand the effects of equity-focused and culturally responsive practices for students and staff in schools and reducing the disproportionate representation of youth of color in office disciplinary, suspensions, and special education referrals.
  • Coaching & Implementation Support. We engage in a variety of programs and research projects related to implementation, many of which focus on teacher and/or school-level coaching interventions that incorporate data-based decision-making and performance feedback. A particular area of interest is the use of motivational interviewing and related strategies to optimize implementation fidelity and quality. We also conduct research on related factors, including teacher efficacy, stress, and burnout.
  • MTSS-B/PBIS/SEL. Our team has engaged in a number of school-level randomized controlled trials testing various elements of the multi-tiered positive behavior support framework, including Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and multi-tiered systems of support for behavior (MTSS-B). These studies often explore the impact of other evidence-based programs focused on social and emotional learning (SEL). These projects often span multiple elementary, middle, and high schools, and include state-wide scale up of these models in partnership with school divisions and states. 
  • School Climate, Safety & Bullying. Our team has been involved in many efforts to better understand the risk and protective factors associated with bullying and school climate. This work including surveillance efforts, observations, and large-scale surveys of student, staff, and parent perspectives. These data are often used to guide decision-making and related preventive-interventions to improve school climate and bullying related outcomes.
  • Rural Schools. As a leading research partner in the National Center for Rural School Mental Health, our rural school projects focus on building evidence for interventions delivered in rural schools and building rural school capacity to identify, prevent, and intervene on student mental health problems. We also study the extent to which measures and interventions developed in or adaptative for rural settings hold utility in rural schools.
  • Innovative Methods. Our lab is committed to the use of methodological approaches that allow for deeper understanding of the phenomenon and create a stronger foundation on which to base policies and programs addressing social issues. Whether through quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methodologies, we strive to promote the use of methods best suited for the context and the specific research questions.
  • Economic Analysis. With increasing costs of evidence-based programs serving as a potential barrier to program adaption, our team has developed a process for leveraging implementation data to track costs associated with school-based mental health programs and supports. One such product is a cost calculator, which can be used to calculate the cost of school-based preventive interventions.  
  • Cross-Cultural Mental Health. We study the extent to which measures and interventions developed in these settings are valid and hold utility in low- and middle-income country settings. Activities in this area include literature review, statistical examination of cross-cultural alignment and instrument validity, and evaluation of social and behavioral interventions.

Contact:  Courtney Newman,


Classroom climate and child development - Robert Pianta

What have we learned about opportunities for students to learn and grow from observational studies in the United States and across the globe?

Project Description: Schools are a critical developmental context for children.  For decades, education researchers and policy makers have worked to support children by understanding and improve the learning and social climates of K-12 classrooms.  This project aims to review and synthesize classroom climate research from across the United State to better understand the quality of K-12 classrooms. We are looking for a few insightful and motivated undergraduates to join our team in completing this very interesting and important work! Tasks include working from an established database to search and code literature and attending bi-weekly project meetings to discuss how classroom climate relates to child development and to review progress on project and personal goals. Qualifications/skills: Motivated, detail-oriented, and self-directed; some familiarity with academic literature in psychology and/or education. For interested students, this is a great opportunity to become familiar with classroom climate literature, different types of research, and how to abstract information from empirical literature (all great skills to have for grad school applications!). Multiple manuscripts will be written from the data that is produced. Students’ contributions will be acknowledged and there could be opportunities for motivated students to be co-authors on manuscripts from this work. Aside from group meetings, students can work from home whenever it fits into their schedule.

Contact:  Tara Hofkens,

Contemplative Teaching and Learning Lab, Mindfulness for Teachers study - Tish Jennings & Tara Hofkens

The Contemplative Learning and Teaching Lab will be collecting data in Fall 2021, for a project on mindfulness for teachers. The project focuses on the effects of a brief mindfulness intervention on teacher trainees’ stress response in a simulated classroom management task. Data collection is conducted in the mixed-reality simulator and involves collecting physiological data, including heart rate variability and galvanic skin response to monitor participants’ stress response. RAs will receive training and will help with recruitment, scheduling, and running the study in the mixed reality simulator. We are hiring several RAs to join us in the Fall 2021 semester for approximately 10 hours/week at ~$15/hour (based on experience), with possible extension into the Spring 2022 semester. Previous research experience is preferred. We welcome enthusiastic undergraduates who are interested in mindfulness, education, stress, and/or physiological data! If interested, please send CV/resume to Karime Cameron at

Contact Name and Email: Karime Cameron at


Dissecting Discourse - Amanda Williford

Probing Connections Between Classroom Discourse and Student Outcomes in the Context of Preschool Science Lessons

Preschool science lessons afford a unique opportunity to examine the bidirectional nature of classroom discourse, given dual emphases on domain-specific as well as crosscutting content and concepts. Inherent in preschool science discourse is a range of potential language forms (e.g., causal connectors), content (e.g., technical vocabulary), and pragmatics (e.g., questions) that likely strengthen general instructional support (concept development, feedback, language modeling), science instruction quality, and children’s outcomes. Yet, there is a dearth of research that accounts for reciprocal interactions between teachers and students in examining linkages between classroom discourse and student outcomes, in the context of a rigorous experimental design. The proposed project will transcribe videos of preschool science lessons conducted as part of a randomized controlled trial to examine the efficacy of MyTeachingPartner-Math/Science. The resulting transcripts will create a rich source of data to investigate whether particular features of science discourse are associated with teachers’ instructional interactions and more strongly predict children’s science knowledge and skills, as well as whether the relation between science discourse and children’s science knowledge and skills is causal. This project also has the potential to inform additional research with the aim of strengthening classroom discourse processes and resulting student outcomes in multiple content areas. Project activities will include transcribing videotaped preschool science lessons (using CLAN transcription software and conventions;, verifying the accuracy of transcripts, assisting with development of a coding scheme (e.g., performing literature searches, compiling articles), coding transcripts, verifying the accuracy of codes, and performing data entry and data entry verification. No previous experience with transcription is necessary (although it would be helpful!) – training will be provided.

Contact: Khara Turnbull,

Early Childhood Education Research - Amanda Williford

The Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL) is seeking   students who are interested in learning more about research within the area of early childhood education.  We have a variety of active projects that focus on understanding how classroom interactions are linked to young children’s development, testing prevention and early intervention programs to be used in classrooms, designing student assessments, etc.  Students will gain a variety of skills including learning how to observe teacher-child interactions and children’s engagement in classrooms, how to code classroom footage for high quality interactions, how to conduct direct assessments with children, how to design and test interventions, how to conduct randomized controlled trials, how to process large amounts of field-based data, etc.  Preference will be given to students who are interested in working for credit the entire year. Scheduled hours are flexible and opportunities for paid work over breaks and summer exist.



Early Childhood Education Research - Marissa Bivona and Amanda Williford

We are currently recruiting undergraduate research assistants for Fall 2022-Spring 2023. There is also an option to begin in August 2022. 

This project is a mixed methods study and community partnership exploring the mental health and experiences of early childhood educators, young children and their families during the Covid-19 pandemic. Undergraduate research assistants will gain experience completing focus groups and interviews as well as working with community partners. Students will develop analytic skills coding transcripts and field notes, and will be part of the coding scheme development process. We are looking for diverse perspectives. Some knowledge of early childhood education or qualitative research would also be helpful though not essential!

Please contact Marissa Bivona ( if you are interested in taking part in this project or have questions.


Foundations of Cognition and Learning (FOCAL) lab - David Grissmer

The Foundations of Cognition and Learning (FOCAL) lab based at the University of Virginia’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL), includes more than 30 scholars from several universities. Using multiple methods such as secondary analysis of large-scale databases, intervention and measurement development, and randomized control trials (RCTs), we study the cognitive processes that underpin learning throughout the school years. These processes are fundamental to adaptive school performance and achievement in the traditional areas of mathematics and literacy achievement, and as such, are situated within students’ social contexts. The cognitive foundations that are central to our studies include motivation, executive function and self-regulation, sensorimotor and visuospatial processing, phonological skills, and general knowledge of the world. 

Opportunities for RAs in the FOCAL lab include a range of research activities, including video coding, assessment scoring and data entry, literature reviews, and assisting lab members to prepare research projects for presentation at UVA or other conferences. We are especially interested in working with motivated students who are comfortable working independently and who have strong communication skills. 

FOCAL lab contact: Julie Thomas,

Influences of Classroom-level Social Settings - Amanda Kibler

Our research, supported by the W.T. Grant Foundation, focuses on understanding classroom-level social settings in which English language learners and fluent English speakers learn alongside each other in “mainstream” middle school classrooms.  Our mixed-methods project uses classroom observations, interviews, and surveys to explore: how peer interactions and relationships in the classroom influence learning and development, and whether certain classroom level features help to support beneficial social network dynamics in classrooms.  

RAs will attend regular lab meetings and assist with tasks such as data cleaning, coding, and social network analysis, depending on areas of interest and previous experience. After gaining experience with the project, RAs often have the opportunity to pursue more personalized research questions.

Contact:  Prof. Kibler,

Investigating Diversity in Early Adolescence (IDEA) Race-Ethnicity-Diversity Lab - Joanna Williams

The Investigating Diversity in Early Adolescence (IDEA) Project is a mixed-methods study of students’ social relationships in racially/ethnically diverse middle schools.  The study is focused on understanding the social dynamics of racial/ethnic diversity, equity and inclusion in middle school students’ friendship networks with the goal of identifying bridges between peer social processes and students’ academic and psychosocial outcomes. 

RA opportunities include the following: 1) participant recruitment and survey administration in middle schools; 2) collecting observational and interview data from IDEA participants; 3) organization and management of project files; 3) assisting with data entry, cleaning, coding, and basic statistical analyses of survey data; 4) assisting with coding of qualitative interview data; 5) researching topics related to the project through literature reviews and contributing to the dissemination of findings as needed (i.e., presentations and papers). RAs will be expected to attend regular (weekly) lab meetings. Students interested in assisting with data collection will need to have some availability during the school day.

Contact: Joanna Williams,

MyTeachingPartner – Math/Science Research - Ryan D. Kiley

MyTeachingPartner-Mathematics/Science offers innovative curricula and embedded on-line teacher supports aimed at supporting school readiness for pre-kindergarten students potentially at risk of early school failure. We are engaged in a two-year field trial of the curricula and teacher supports in 140 classrooms, collecting outcomes such as children's knowledge and skills and teacher quality, fidelity, and concept knowledge. We are looking for students interested in mentored research experience for college credit. An undergraduate research assistant could be involved in coding and analysis of data, reviewing the literature, writing reports, and developing presentations. Experience with SPSS, Excel, and Microsoft Word/PowerPoint is desirable. Our lab is located in Ruffner Hall.

Contact: Ryan Kiley,


Social Development Lab - Sara Rimm-Kaufman

Are you interested in learning about what occurs inside classrooms? Would you like to find out more about service-learning in schools? Are you curious about how teachers support children's social and emotional skills? If these questions pique your curiosity, you may be interested in joining the UVa Social Development Lab. Sara Rimm-Kaufman and her team are conducting a series of studies on elementary school classrooms. RAs in the Social Development Lab work with the team to observe and code classrooms (live and on video), support development of new approaches to teaching service-learning and environmental science, transcribe and code teachers talking about their teaching experiences and help with data entry, basic descriptive data analysis and other miscellaneous tasks. RAs must be clear-thinking, responsible, reliable and detail-oriented. Further, we require at least a one year commitment to the lab. We encourage students in our lab to also consider the one-year masters program in Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science to extend their knowledge and engagement in research.

Contact: Julia Thomas, or Sara Rimm-Kaufman, 


Virginia Youth Violence Project - Dewey Cornell

We have two projects funded by the National Institute of Justice involving Virginia public schools. The first project examines several waves of school climate survey data from approximately 700 Virginia secondary schools. There are multiple studies being conducted with these data to help schools reduce bullying and improve school climate and safety. The second project evaluates the use of threat assessment teams in approximately 1,900 K-12 schools. The goal of this project is to establish a national model for schools to use threat assessment as an alternative to zero tolerance suspension practices. Our research team meets Monday mornings 9-11.   

Undergraduate RAs have opportunities to help analyze survey data on bullying, school climate, and student threats of violence. They can contribute to research presentations and papers. We also need help maintaining and expanding a website and Facebook page as a resource to schools and researchers. An advanced student could identify a project using one of our databases. Experience with SPSS, Excel, and PowerPoint is useful. Interest in quantitative analyses and survey measurement is desirable.  

Contact: Prof. Cornell,


Young Women Leaders Program, Edith Lawrence, Nancy Deutsch - Joanna Lee Williams

Young Women Leaders Program (YWLP) is a psycho-educational mentoring program that empowers at-risk middle school girls to be leaders by combining the benefits of one-on-one mentoring with targeted group activities. YWLP is currently investigating the processes that contribute to the program’s success in promoting healthy growth in girls and expanding part of its curriculum focused on building connections with girls internationally. We have an ongoing study of both the middle school girl participants and the college women mentors including ongoing survey data and archived interview and observational data.

RA responsibilities include the following tasks: 1) Working with survey data from girls, parents, and college women (coding, entering, checking, running statistical analyses, and organizing project files), 2) Working with interview and observational data from girls and college women (coding qualitative data) 3) Researching topics related to the project through literature reviews, 4) Attending weekly lab meetings, and 5) Helping team members prepare presentations and papers. Additional research hours may be available for assisting with quantitative or qualitative data collection, including surveys and observations of mentoring groups.

Contact: Prof. Deutsch,