Every semester our faculty offer opportunities for undergraduate students to work in their labs and participate in research or practical experiences. These are perfect opportunities for students to learn useful skills that will prepare them for graduate school and jobs.
*This list may not be exhaustive. If you are interested in working with a specific faculty member/project not listed here, contact the individual faculty member to discuss any opportunities!
Abriendo Caminos: Clearing the Path to Hispanic Health Lab
Research has shown that people of Hispanic heritage living in the U.S. are at a heightened risk of obesity and obesity-related health threats. Therefore, a need for affordable, practical interventions exists. This project, seeks to develop an effective, low-cost obesity prevention program (available in both Spanish and English) that can be disseminated by educators and community agencies across the U.S. Ultimately, the project’s six-week community-based program will significantly increase basic knowledge of nutrition and dietary health with the immediate beneficiaries being Hispanic-heritage children ages 6- to 18-years-old.
The Abriendo Caminos Project seeks undergraduate research assistants (RAs) that are motivated and excited to serve Hispanic families and are interested in health promotion. Students will learn hands-on research skills in both qualitative and quantitative methods. Students will learn how to manage large data sets, run analyses, be committed to promoting health among Hispanic families, and collect data. RAs must be at least sophomore standing. Commitment to the RA position for two semesters is strongly preferred. This is an opportunity to learn valuable research methods and prepare posters and presentations. Students will register for 1-3 credit hours of HDFS 294. To apply, please contact Elizabeth Villegas and/or Dr. Margarita Teran. (available Summer 2018, Fall 2018, and Spring 2019).
Adolescent Development and Parenting during Transitions (ADAPT) Lab
The Adolescent Development and Parenting during Transitions (ADAPT) Lab is seeking undergraduate research assistants (sophomore or junior standing). Students will participate in lab meetings, assist with data collection for the Middle School Transition Project and the Adolescents’ Everyday Experiences Project, be involved in data management and coding (e.g., entry, cleaning, analysis) of survey, interview, and observational data, and assist with literature reviews and presentations. We are seeking highly motivated students who are interested in parenting, adolescent stress (e.g., peer stress, school challenges), and/or physiology (e.g., stress response system, heart rate). Commitment to the lab for one academic year is strongly preferred (Fall-Spring). Students have opportunities to gain valuable research experience. Students will register for 2-3 credits (3 hours of work a week per 1 credit hour) of HDFS 294. To apply, please complete an application, which can be found at the Lab website and contact Dr. Kelly Tu. (available Summer 2018, Fall 2018, and Spring 2019)
African American Family (AAFam) Stress and Resiliency Lab
The African American Family Stress and Resiliency Lab is looking for undergraduate research assistants interested in understanding the connections between race-related stress, mental health, and social support within African American families. Students will have the opportunity to gain experience with multiple research-related activities including, but not limited to, literature reviews, participant recruitment, data management, data analysis, and writing. Lab members must attend biweekly lab meetings and register for 2-3 credits (3 hours of work a week per 1 credit hour) of HDFS 294. It is expected that lab members are motivated, reliable, and able to work both independently and collaboratively. Additional information can be found at the AAFam lab website. To apply to be a research assistant, please contact Dr. Shardé Smith. Limited opportunities available. (available Summer 2018, Fall 2018, and Spring 2019)
Culture and Family Life Lab
Sophomores or juniors interested in culture, globalization, and the well-being of youth/families across countries are invited to apply to join our international research lab as a Research Assistant (RA). RAs in the CFL lab need to be energetic, self-organized and reliable, with the ability to follow detailed instructions. No prior research experience is required, but a willingness to learn and work hard is crucial. A commitment to the RA position for a full academic year is preferred. RAs can choose to volunteer or register for HDFS 294 initially (Research Internship), with the possibility of HDFS 295 (Independent Study or Research) in the second semester.
Responsibilities and Benefits: RAs are assigned to one main research project in the lab. They participate in lab meetings and events; conduct literature reviews/annotations; enter/code data; prepare handouts, posters, and presentations from study findings; maintain lab website; and possibly assist in developing and executing a new research study. RAs gain research skills and experience needed for graduate school applications; learn more about globalization and families; develop a strong mentorship relationship with Dr. Ferguson and PhD students; have a self-directed and flexible work schedule; and present a research poster at the UIUC Undergrad Research Symposium (for those with HDFS 295 option). To apply, browse the Lab website then email Dr. Gail Ferguson your resume to schedule an interview. (rolling availability)
Family Court Decisions About Child Custody in the Context of Intimate Partner Violence
We are seeking undergraduate research assistants (RAs) for a project on divorce and intimate partner violence (IPV). The project broadly focuses on how decisions about custody and visitation are made in family courts when divorcing parents have a history of IPV. We are especially interested in how decisions may differ between parents with and without a history of IPV. The project involves collecting data from public administrative records (e.g., divorce, protective order, criminal) for over 600 divorce cases.
We are seeking highly motivated, responsible, and dependable undergraduate students to join our research team. Minimum 3.4 GPA. RAs will be trained in the coding of administrative records and must be willing to collect data off campus at the Champaign County courthouse (transportation from other student RAs can be provided). RAs will gain valuable research skills and experience working in a collaborative team environment. Commitment to the RA position for more than one semester is strongly preferred. Students who remain on the project for at least two semesters will have the opportunity to prepare posters and presentations. For James Scholars, opportunities are available to fulfill the independent research project/presentation requirement. Students will register for HDFS 294 for 2 credit hours (6 hours of work per week). To apply, contact Dr. Jill Bowers, Dr. Jennifer Hardesty, or Dr. Brian Ogolsky. (available Spring 2019)
Healthy Experiences Across Relationship Transitions (HEART) Lab
Why do some relationships succeed when others fail? How do dating couples transition in and out of relationships? How do couples manage conflict, and other relationship threats? The Healthy Experiences Across Relationship Transitions (HEART) lab is looking for undergraduate research assistants to help answer questions like these. Qualified students will take part in various activities including, but not limited to, data management, coding, analysis, literature review, and lab meetings. We are accepting undergraduates with any level of research experience. Interested students should send an email to Dr. Brian Ogolsky, briefly explaining their background and interest in the project. (available Summer 2018, Fall 2018, and Spring 2019)
Humans in Nature Project
The Humans in Nature project uses technology and social media to encourage individuals and families to spend time in nature as a way of: (a) maintaining physical health, (b) managing stress and restoring the ability to focus on important life tasks, and (c) fostering positive social interactions and satisfying relationships. Students will be part of a team that will develop research-based multimedia products that will include (a) visually rich web-based articles, (b) video interviews and documentary style short films, (c) audio interviews and podcast style “micro documentaries”. Students will gain experience in research by writing for lay audiences, illustrating articles with artwork or digital photography, developing short audio and video productions, using online tools for communication, and developing and implementing social media strategies. Students can volunteer or earn 2 or 3 hours of HDFS 294 course credit (6 – 9 hours of work per week; with a flexible schedule). To apply, contact Dr. Aaron Ebata. (available Summer 2018, Fall 2018, and Spring 2019)
Infant Development Project
The Infant Development Project seeks undergraduate research assistants. Students will participate in weekly team meetings, assist with mother-infant research visits at the Beckman Institute, and participate in coding maternal and infant behaviors during a variety of observational tasks. We seek motivated students who are interested in learning about early social and emotional development while gaining valuable research experience. To apply, please contact Dr. Nancy McElwain. (available Summer 2018, Fall 2018, and Spring 2019)
Minority Populations' Experiences in the Family Court System
Immigrant mothers’ experiences representing themselves in the family court system are likely to be drastically different from that of mothers who have stable residency status and proficient English speaking abilities. This research project will look at differences in family court experiences with divorce and child custody based on language proficiencies and socio-economic status. The aim is to examine barriers and biases minority groups may face in representing themselves before the court. Students who have at least sophomore standing and are interested in research at the intersection of law and social science, especially students interested in graduate school or law school, are invited to apply for a Research Assistant (RA) position. The RA will learn hands-on research skills in both quantitative and qualitative methods. Responsibilities will include conducting literature reviews, entering/coding data, and taking part in discussing practical ways to examine the project aim. No prior research experience is required, but commitment to the position for both Summer and Fall 2018 and familiarity with the statistical program SPSS are preferred. The RA is expected to be responsible, reliable, self-organized, and have the ability to follow detailed instructions. Registration for 1-2 credit hours of HDFS 294 is required. To apply, contact So Young Park and/or Dr. Jennifer Hardesty. (available Summer 2018 and Fall 2018)
Mother-Child Interaction Dynamics in the U.S. and China
Parenting and child development are embedded in cultural contexts. Fine-grained understanding of parent-child dynamics in diverse cultural contexts can inform parenting practices that promote child functioning in an increasingly global society. Contemporary China represents a unique context to study this topic, with deep-rooted Confusion principles on the one hand, and the drastic social changes in the last several decades on the other hand. In this study, we will compare patterns of mother-preschooler interaction in a challenging problem solving task in the U.S. and China. We are seeking undergraduate research assistants. Students will attend weekly meetings and code observed mother or child behaviors. Coders for the U.S. sample and the Chinese sample are expected to be native speakers of English and Mandarin, respectively. We also seek bi-cultural coders, who have substantive experience with both the U.S. and Chinese culture. Commitment to the RA position for both the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters is required. We seek motivated students who are interested in learning about mother-child interaction in cultural contexts while gaining valuable research experience. To apply, please contact Xi Chen. (available Fall 2018 and Spring 2019)
Parental Leave and Family and Work Outcomes
United States is one of four countries around the globe that do not offer paid maternity leave (the others are Lesotho, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea), and the only developed country that do not offer paid paternal leave. Still, some employees in the United States and recently workers at California, New Jersey and Rhode Island are entitled to paid parental leave. In this study I explore the outcomes of paid parental leave, when offered, on children, couple, family, and work and career outcomes. As a result of taking part in this research opportunity, you will: (1) Develop an understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methods; (2) Become familiar with the topic of paid parental leave in the United States and other countries; (3) Gain knowledge in family, sociology, and economics theories; and (4) Gain experience in writing a review paper.
Expectations: Students and I will collaboratively develop a research question related to a joint area of interest that relate to the broad research topic (2-3 weeks). Following the development of the research question students will identify 20 (4 credits) or 10 research papers (2 credits) and will write a review of the current literature, identify gaps and limitations of the current research, and identify future research directions. Students will meet with me weekly and will send a draft of their paper as it progresses every week. Prerequisites: Students must be juniors, seniors or graduate students who completed a research methods class. Interested students should email Dr. Karen Kramer. (available Summer 2018 and Fall 2018)
School Readiness: Connecting African American and Latino Families and Schools
This project explores how preschools, elementary schools, and families facilitate low-income, African American and Latino preschoolers’ transition to kindergarten. Families who have children with disabilities (cognitive, behavioral, and/or physical) are included. The project is based on qualitative interviews with preschool teachers, kindergarten teachers, and parents, neighborhood observations, and photographs from African American and Latino parents on daily family life. Students will work in our ethnographic research lab with data that have already been collected. Students will have an opportunity to become familiar with the literatures on family resilience, parenting practices and schooling, and family-school collaborations, and developmental disabilities in early childhood, and to learn qualitative data analysis skills. Developing data analysis skills will entail coding interviews and photo documents. As part of the project activities, we will work on developing a parenting curriculum that facilitates greater parental engagement with schools and communities for all children. The project provides an excellent opportunity to work as part of a research team with other undergraduate and graduate students. Students will register for 1-3 hours of HDFS 294. Interested students should contact Dr. Robin Jarrett. (available Summer 2018 and Fall 2018)
The Autism Program (TAP)
This course will provide students with experience in working at The Autism Program by staffing the information and outreach center on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) for families and professionals who work with families, and to participate in programs that provide supports or services related to ASDs to families and professionals. Coursework will enable students to qualify for certification as a Registered Behavioral Technician. Requirements: The internship is open to students in the social and behavioral sciences, with priority given to students in HDFS, SPED, or SHS. This opportunity is limited to Second Semester Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors, and Grad Students. Students are required to complete an application and interview with The Autism Program staff. Additional information and the application form can be found at the TAP website. For additional information contact Anne Hall, The Autism Program, 904 W Nevada, 217-244-1395. (available Fall 2018 and Spring 2019)