Author: cem13017

Getting In Touch: Making Contact with Professors

By: Maya Schlesinger, OUR Peer Research Ambassador

The toughest part of getting involved on campus is often — well — getting involved! This is especially true when it comes to undergraduate research and other creative endeavors, where your involvement hinges on building connections with professors whose work aligns with your interests.

For me, developing these contacts to start my research came in the form of emails and so I’ve had a lot of practice crafting these emails to professors. Your email is often the first thing that this person has to judge you by, and if you are asking them for something, you want to make sure it stands out and is professional. Continue reading

• 2017 Mentorship Excellence Awards


In recognition of the pivotal role that mentors play in supporting undergraduate research and creative activity, the Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to announce the recipents of the 2017 Mentorship Excellence Awards. These awards recognize two faculty members – one in a STEM field, and one in a non-STEM field – and one graduate student who exemplify the ways in which outstanding mentors challenge and support their students, enabling them to take intellectual risks and achieve milestones they might not have initially envisioned being able to reach.

The 2017 Mentorship Excellence Awards were presented to Virginia Hettinger, Morgan Tingley, and Amanda Coletti during the Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition on Friday, April 7, 2017.

Virginia Hettinger, Associate Professor of Political Science
Professor Hettinger’s award was presented by Peer Research Ambassador Tom Cotton ’17 (ENG). The following text is excerpted from Tom’s presentation remarks.

Tom Cotton and Virginia Hettinger
Tom Cotton ’17 (ENG) presents the award to Professor Virginia Hettinger.

All of Professor Hettinger’s nominators commented on the profound effect she has had on their undergraduate careers. One noted, “Professor Hettinger has completely changed my college experience for the better. After my first meeting with her, I left feeling as if I could attempt anything.”

By involving students in research, both in the classroom and through mentorship of independent projects, Professor Hettinger had developed her students’ understanding and appreciation of different types of political science research.

Further, she has encouraged her students to pursue opportunities they doubted they could achieve, whether that is submitting a University Scholar application or competing for a national fellowship. Her advisees describe how she has provided just the right kind of mentorship at a given moment, whether that was a gentle push to try something new, guidance on how to resolve a problem, or encouragement to persist in spite of challenges.

Her impact as a mentor is best encapsulated in the words of one of her advisees, who wrote, “Research has been central to my intellectual and professional development in college. I see research as more than just a final assignment for a class – it is a way to approach and try to understand different political and social problems. This is largely because Dr. Hettinger has always encouraged me to follow my intellectual curiosity and challenged me to come up with my own research questions. I have gained a host of research, writing, and strategic planning skills I will bring to whatever situations I find myself in throughout my career.”

Morgan Tingley, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Professor Tingley’s award was presented by Genevieve Nuttall ’18 (CLAS), Sarah Rumsey ’19 (CLAS), and Nicholas Russo ’18 (CLAS), three undergraduate researchers mentored by Dr. Tingley. The following text is excerpted from Nick’s presentation remarks.

Morgan Tingley and mentees
Professor Morgan Tingley, at right, with his undergraduate mentees.

Under Dr. Tingley’s guidance, I reached a major goal early in my undergraduate career: publishing the results of a research project in a peer-reviewed journal. He has worked with me intensively over the past three years to make sure I understood how to do ecology, from experimental design to communicating results.

Dr. Tingley also stresses ownership of research, which I credit as the major driver of my growth as a researcher. He teaches us the methods and tools of ecological research, including advanced statistics and R statistical software, and expects us to come to him with ideas for how to use them in our research.

In fall 2016, Dr. Tingley and I applied for the Jed Burtt Mentoring Grant to cover research expenses for the upcoming field season, and travel to present the results at an ornithology conference Dr. Tingley explained that he never had the chance to attend a conference as an undergraduate, and thought I should have the opportunity. In fact, he couldn’t wait until next year—we presented at the 2017 meeting and spent two non-conference days birding around Florida. Overall, Dr. Tingley’s impressive birding skills, and his cycle of critique and praise of my work keeps me on edge, and motivated to mirror his success in ecological research.

Amanda Coletti, Ph.D. Student, Physiology and Neurobiology, Conover Laboratory
Amanda was presented with her award by Emily Norton ’17 (CLAS), one of many undergraduate researchers who works under her supervision in the Conover lab. The following text is excerpted from Emily’s presentation remarks.

Amanda Coletti with mentees.
Amanda Coletti with members of the Conover Lab.

I began working with Amanda when she joined our lab as a first year graduate student. Although I was initially nervous to begin working with someone new, we have become incredibly close over the years, and her constant support and mentorship have proved invaluable to myself and others as we learn the intricacies of scientific research.

Throughout my time working with her, Amanda has made every teaching experience engaging and thought-provoking. Her passion for science and learning is contagious, and has heavily influenced our own involvement within the lab. While teaching us difficult techniques with skill, she has emphasized the importance of fully understanding our work and how each decision we make relates to our research question. Instead of criticizing us, she turns every mistake into an experience we can learn from. Her determination to involve us and teach us to work independently has led to our development of critical and creative thinking skills that will prove beneficial in all facets of our lives.

Amanda’s interest and guidance in our lives goes beyond the scope of lab work. She frequently dedicates her time and energy into helping and supporting her undergraduate team. Whether it be through answering late night stress emails, proofreading countless program applications, or celebrating our accomplishments, Amanda has been there to support us throughout all endeavors.

Congratulations to the 2017 award recipients! The Office of Undergraduate Research thanks the undergraduate students who nominated their faculty and graduate student mentors as well as the Peer Research Ambassadors who served on this year’s selection committee.

Steven Reilly: A thesis on Daily Fantasy Sports caps off an undergraduate career

Steven Reilly ’17 (BUS) shares his circuitous path into a marketing thesis project on Daily Fantasy Sports.

As with many things at UConn, the Honors Thesis experience is ultimately what you make of it. To some students, it is a culmination of their undergraduate careers. To others, it is a chance to delve deeply into a topic that they find interesting. And to some, the Honors Thesis is the final lengthy paper that they will complete before stepping into the real world. For me, the Honors Thesis was all of these things and more. My thesis ended up acting as a capstone project that required me to reflect on the different Marketing classes I had taken, and to utilize all of the skills that I had learned. However, it did not begin like this.

Like most students that I have spoken to, my thesis project began with a great deal of uncertainty. I was having trouble finding an advisor largely due to my inconclusiveness towards what topic I wanted to research. I was also anxious about picking a topic that didn’t have a substantial amount of previous scholarly research, since I was so familiar with creating papers that sourced peer-reviewed journals. I knew I wanted to spend the Fall semester of my senior year researching my thesis topic before writing the actual thesis in the Spring, but as August crept up, I recognized that I needed some guidance. I scheduled an appointment with my Honors advisor.

While I had visited my Honors advisor before my senior year, it was never for anything beyond a couple questions about course selection. I had always prided myself on being able to determine my own schedules and course loads, but I also realized that I could use all of the help I could get on my Honors Thesis. When I told Dr. Narasimhan Srinivasan, my Honors advisor, about my issue, he was quick to come up with a solution: He would serve as my Honors advisor for any topic I chose, as long as I promised to show interest and work hard. This sounded like a fair deal to me, and I went to work looking for a topic.

Steven ReillyThe first couple of topics I discussed with Dr. Srinivasan were viable ideas, but they lacked the element of interest that we had spoken about earlier. I wanted to pick a topic that I could relate to through personal experience. After more deliberation, I decided to study the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) industry. I have always been a huge sports fan, and the dynamic billion-dollar DFS industry had recently come under scrutiny due to its similarity to illegal online gambling. Dr. Srinivasan encouraged me to research this idea, since I had experience playing the game and had an interest in the industry overall.

While the Daily Fantasy Sports industry is a lucrative one, its relative youth made it difficult to research. While I had skills from my Intro to Marketing classes to analyze Daily Fantasy Sports companies through SWOT analyses and understanding of key business elements, there weren’t many peer-reviewed articles on Daily Fantasy Sports (as opposed to season-long fantasy). The companies that did produce research reports charged a great deal of money for them. Dr. Srinivasan had an inventive way to overcome this obstacle: he recommended that I email the company and see if they would give me the report for academic purposes only. Sure enough, after one persuasive email, the research firm was happy to oblige. With my newly acquired research reports, I was ready to compile my own findings on the Daily Fantasy Sports industry.

In December, with my preliminary research completed, I was prepared to move on to my actual Honors Thesis. While I had learned a lot about the industry, its companies, and its legal climate, I did not feel that I had a good grasp on its customers. In multiple Marketing classes, we are taught that customers ultimately act as the vehicle that determines the value of a product. So, in order to learn more about Daily Fantasy Sports players, Dr. Srinivasan and I created a Qualtrics survey to distribute to those who had played Daily Fantasy Sports in the last 12 months. We submitted the survey to UConn’s Institutional Review Board.

After a fairly lengthy IRB approval process, I was given permission to distribute the survey. Because of our niche target demographic, I needed to get creative with how I procured responses. I distributed the survey on Reddit websites that catered to Daily Fantasy Sports. With the help of the OUR Supply Award, I also distributed the survey through Amazon MTurk, a website that allows you to pay survey respondents a small fee for successfully completing your survey. I had over 1,000 responses to the survey within a couple of weeks.

After a weekend spent brushing up on statistical software that I had learned to use in my Marketing Research class, I was ready to test my hypotheses. A series of different tests revealed quickly that many of my hypotheses were untrue, and many of my projected correlations were not as strong as I thought they might be. Dr. Srinivasan reminded me to not get discouraged, since learning that you are incorrect is a vital part of the research process. Nevertheless, while I had been wrong is some of my assumptions, I found different new and interesting trends that I ended up writing about in my final paper.

In the final weeks of the semester, I completed my Honors Thesis and turned it in to the Honors Office. What a sense of accomplishment! The Thesis experience was truly a journey that forced me to hone many skills that I had gained through my college career. I had used my basic understanding of business elements to break down an industry. I used my understanding of marketing strategy to prognosticate potential next steps companies in the industry might take. I persuaded a research firm to provide me with information utilizing some of the tactics taught in UConn sales classes. I also used statistical testing and writing skills I had obtained in prior classes to put together the final report. Overall, my Honors Thesis was truly a capstone project that revealed to me how many different talents can be combined to create a successful project.

Now that my time at UConn is over, there is so much to remember: experiences, friends, classes, professors, and more. My Honors Thesis experience will be one of the many positive experiences I look back on anytime I reflect on my time at UConn. While the process was a challenging one, it was made easier by Dr. Srinivasan, as well as the many advisors and professors that provided me with a helping hand along the way. I know that I will face many more challenges as I head off into the working world. I can only hope that I will be provided with the same support that allowed me to succeed at UConn in my future endeavors.

Heather Winter: Identifying a career path through nutritional science research

Heather Winter ’16 (CAHNR) explored her interest in bioactive food components through undergraduate research. She shares her reflections on the impact of her research experiences in the essay below.

My journey into scientific research began with a class in nutrition that I took at Manchester Community College, which sparked my interest in researching the medicinal functions of food, and its bioactive components. After earning an Associate’s degree from MCC, I began studies in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut. I soon learned from my advanced nutrition classes that I was primarily interested in the molecular side of nutrition, and upon the recommendation of my advisor, began looking into research being conducted in laboratories within UConn’s Nutritional Sciences department.

My search led me to contact Dr. Christopher Blesso, whose lab researches the use of bioactive food components, such as polyphenols in elderberries and grapes, for the prevention or reversal of chronic diseases. I started independent study research in the first semester of my senior year, and gained my introductory experience in laboratory work. I shadowed the graduate students and advanced undergraduate students, familiarizing myself with laboratory techniques and the various experiments being conducted in the lab. With mentoring from the graduate students, I learned how to perform assays, such as triglyceride quantification from plasma samples, and carried out data analysis.

Heather WinterAs I progressed in the laboratory, Dr. Blesso and I developed ideas for my own independent project, and I chose to learn cell culturing techniques so I could carry out experiments focusing on a bioactive component of milk called sphingomyelin. My interests were in studying the role of sphingomyelin as a dietary intervention for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, modeling the disease state in a cancerous liver cell line. Once I had a plan for my own research project, Dr. Blesso suggested that I apply for the OUR Supply Award to help fund my experiments.

After receiving the news that my OUR application was accepted, I was excited to conduct my own cell culture experiments with sphingomyelin. In addition to cell culture techniques, I learned how to perform lipid and protein extractions, then perform further biochemical assays to quantify the results of my cell culture experiments. Based upon the data I collected, I was able to perform a qualitative analysis of the role of sphingomyelin and determine its active function in reducing lipid accumulation in liver cells. The data I collected provided a foundation for the laboratory to move forward with further experiments to assess the function of sphingomyelin, and its potential mechanisms of action.

My undergraduate research experience allowed me to discover my ability to excel in a laboratory environment, and after graduation, led to the opportunity for me to begin working as a Research Specialist in UConn’s department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, focusing on natural products research.

Along my journey in scientific research as an undergraduate, I gained an incredible amount of knowledge, and developed many skills that have been fundamental for my advancement in research after graduation. I am immensely thankful for those who provided mentorship throughout my undergraduate research, and for the opportunity to conduct scientific research from such an early stage in my career.

Kate Boudreau: Discovering health psychology research through coursework

Kate Boudreau ’17 (CLAS) earned her bachelor’s degree this spring and shares her serendipitous introduction to health psychology research in this essay.

Upon entering UConn as a Chemistry major, I pictured my future involvement in undergraduate research in a lab filled with beakers, chemicals, and expensive equipment. Even so, research was not at the forefront of my freshman agenda. I was sufficiently overwhelmed trying to find the delicate balance between succeeding in organic chemistry, getting involved in the right extracurriculars, making friends, and sleeping. My only exposure to research that year was my Honors First Year Experience class called Discovering Undergraduate Research, which helped to open my eyes to the many different types of research happening at UConn.

I discovered my research accidentally when I came across an ad in the Daily Digest that piqued my curiosity right at the time that I was considering changing my major. This allowed me the privilege of taking a special one-year, 10-credit class called Obesity Prevention Learning Consortium as a sophomore, that would ultimately change the course of my college experience. In this class, a mixture of undergraduate and graduate students studied the world obesity epidemic in-depth and discussed potential strategies to combatting weight gain to improve global health. In small groups, we designed our own research projects that aimed to change or prevent behaviors that could lead to unhealthy weight gain in UConn students. This class was eye-opening for me because for the first time, I felt like I was taking an active role in my education and getting to learn about a critical issue through the lens of hands-on research experience. Furthermore, as a pre-medical student taking plenty of lab science classes, I was excited to discover the realm of health psychology research as well as the importance and fascination of working with and studying people.

Kate BoudreauOur projects were completed in Spring 2015 under the guidance of Dr. Amy Gorin, with the encouragement that each group considering furthering their research by submitting abstracts to conferences or editing manuscripts for potential publication. Finding the class and the project rewarding, I jumped at this opportunity to share what I had learned with a community of like-minded researches. Our expectations were low but we were hopeful as we submitted abstracts to international conferences where undergrads rarely present, which made the news even more exciting when we found out our project had been accepted as a poster presentation to The Obesity Society in Los Angeles, California. The pressing question then became: How do we get to California? This is where the Office of Undergraduate Research played a fundamental role.

Thanks to the Office of Undergraduate Research, I was awarded a Travel Grant that assisted with the expenses involved in flying to and staying in California to present my work. Although I could only be in Los Angeles for 48 hours, my trip was overflowing with plenty of new experiences and adventures. Not only did I get to present as an undergraduate at an international conference, but also I experienced the great food in LA, visited the famous farmers’ market, and hiked to the Hollywood sign. Furthermore, being an independent traveler proved to be an invaluable experience in and of itself.
In presenting my poster—a study of college students’ stair taking behaviors in university dormitories with and without motivational signage—I enjoyed the opportunity to talk to experts in the field about my project. Many were interested in what we had done and others provided thoughtful commentary about considerations for future studies. Additionally, I got to talk to other presenters and learn more about recent studies in the field.

I continued working as a Research Assistant in the UConn Weight Management Lab and am completing my Honors Thesis related to a couples’ weight loss study. As a freshman, I could not have imagined that I would be so involved and passionate about research in health psychology come my junior year, but I cannot express my gratitude for the opportunities provided to me at UConn that allowed me to accidentally stumble upon this path. As obesity becomes an increasingly grave problem in the United States, I am certain that I will be involved in combatting it for the foreseeable future as I pursue a career in medicine.

• Research Assistant in Experimental Anthropology Lab

Opportunity Description

We have a summer opportunity for students to be research assistants in the project Dynamics of fan’s experience during games.
The task includes editing videos and coding research material.
It will be developed in our lab at Storrs campus.
This unpaid opportunity is ideal for students that have time during the summer from May to August. The desired working time is part time during week days, but it is flexible and can be discussed.
There is a chance the student can extend his/her involvement and become a research assistant for the fall, being registered in a course and getting credits for dedication in the research project.

Student Qualifications
Previous Knowledge and experience in editing videos in iMovies and QuickTime software are required (other editing and viewing programs might be considered).
Excel experience.

How to Apply
The students interested should email us ( until May 15, 2017, listing:
1) previous experience in editing videos, including for personal reasons, and the programs used,
2) previous experience in coding videos, programs used,
3) previous experience in research,
4) availability to dedicate to this project from May-August 2017, and
5) why he/she is interested in this particular project.

Mentor: Dimitris Xygalatas, Professor
Department: Anthropology
Timing: Ongoing
Campus: Storrs

• Congratulations, Summer 2017 SURF Award Recipients!

SURF logo 2The Office of Undergraduate Research is pleased to announce the selection of 54 undergraduate students to receive SURF Awards in support of their summer undergraduate research projects. The faculty review committee was impressed by the extremely high caliber of the 80 applications submitted this year.

Click here to view the full list of Summer 2017 SURF awardees.

Congratulations, SURF awardees! Your academic achievements, curiosity, initiative, and motivation were evident in your applications. You have an exciting summer of deep engagement with the process of academic inquiry ahead of you. We look forward to hearing about all you learn and discover!

We thank the faculty members who supported SURF applicants in a range of roles: mentors, letter writers, and faculty review committee members. SURF represents a collaborative effort between students and faculty. This program would not be possible without the support and participation of the UConn faculty!

OUR also extends thanks to SURF supporters in the UConn community. We are grateful to the Provost’s Office, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and to the Deans of the Schools and Colleges of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources; Education; Engineering; Nursing; and Pharmacy, who all contributed funding to the SURF competition this year. Alumni, parents, and friends of UConn also helped fund SURF awards. This collaborative funding effort ensures that SURF supports a diverse array of undergraduate research endeavors. We are grateful to all of our program partners for making intensive summer research opportunities available to students seeking to enrich their undergraduate experience in this way.

Once again, congratulations to the recipients of 2017 SURF awards, and good luck with your summer projects!

• Announcing the Health Research Program

The Office of Undergraduate Research announces the launch of a new undergraduate research program, the Health Research Program. The Health Research Program offers a new pathway into undergraduate research for students with interests in health and/or the biomedical sciences. This program, sparked by President Herbst’s interest in facilitating connections between UConn Health researchers and UConn undergraduates, aims to involve more students in research at UConn Health. The Health Research Program is supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office of the Provost, and coordinated by the Office of Undergraduate Research.

For students interested in participating in this program for Spring 2017, here are key details to consider:

  • Spring 2017 opportunities are now posted on the Health Research Program website. There are 18 opportunities that range from psychiatry to science policy, biomaterials to neuroscience, genetics to molecular medicine. The application deadline for these opportunities is Friday, January 6, 2017.
  • To be eligible for these spring opportunities, students must plan to graduate no sooner than December 2017. This is because these research placements are not intended to be for spring alone – they will extend into summer and/or next academic year, assuming satisfactory research progress is made in spring and both the student and faculty mentor are interested in continuing the placement.

Further details and answers to frequently asked questions are available on the Health Research Program website. Students are encouraged to peruse the posted opportunities and begin preparing application materials for any placements of interest. We also urge students to take care to consider the time commitment and schedule options involved in a given opportunity to ensure that they can accommodate these demands in their spring schedule.

Please contact Caroline McGuire, OUR Director, at with any questions.

• SURF 2017: Program Updates

surf3As we prepare for the SURF 2017 application to go live on December 1st, we would like to take the opportunity to highlight some updates and changes to this year’s SURF program. SURF continues to offer students from across the academic disciplines the opportunity to focus full-time on a research or creative project for 9-10 weeks over the summer.

Updates for 2017

  • Stabilized funding. Over the past few years, SURF funding has contracted significantly due to university-wide budget cuts. We are very pleased to announce that the program is on firm financial footing for 2017 due to a generous pledge of support from the Office of the Provost, as well as a multi-year funding commitment from the Office of the Vice President for Research. SURF funding will continue to come from a number of sources – including contributions from donors to the university, from the Deans of many Schools and Colleges, and from OUR’s budget – and we anticipate being able to make approximately 60 awards for 2017, consistent with pre-cut funding levels.
  • Application changes. See the full application outline here.
    • Data collection and data analysis. Reviewers sought greater specificity from applicants regarding their data collection and data analysis plans. The project proposal prompt now includes the following items:
      • For projects involving the collection of data, provide details about your data collection strategy and the types of data you will collect.
      • For projects involving the analysis of data, provide details about your planned analytic procedures and show how your analysis will answer your research question(s).
    • Upload of data collection tools. Reviewers requested that students using survey or interview methods be required to upload their data collection tool(s) (e.g., survey, assessment instrument, interview protocol) so that reviewers might better assess the proposed research design. A PDF upload field is included in the online application for this purpose; students not using survey or interview methods can skip this upload field. Students, please contact OUR with any questions about the use of this upload field.
  • Timeline changes. See timeline guidance and samples here.
    • Literature review. In most cases, literature review and synthesis will have been conducted to inform the development of the SURF proposal. Accordingly, timeline weeks should not be allocated solely to literature review unless the development of a synthesis of the literature is a major component of the proposed summer project. Any student intending to focus his/her SURF project on literature review is especially encouraged to meet with OUR staff (via appointment or SURF office hours) to discuss the project and how to present it most effectively.
    • Coursework and study abroad. Students are expected to account for summer course enrollment, participation in study abroad programs, or any other substantial summer commitment in their SURF timelines. SURF timelines need not be continuous, and the number of SURF project hours can vary from week to week. It is strongly recommended that students not pursue more than 3 credits of coursework simultaneously with the SURF project.
  • Budget policies. See the Budget Policies and Samples page for detailed guidance about allowable expenses (now including maximum dollar amounts for expenses like poster printing) and examples of budgets that show the appropriate level of detail. Faculty advisors of students conducting laboratory research: Please work with your advisee to ensure s/he has accurate information about the costs of lab supplies that can be procured through university purchasing channels and contracts.
  • Submitting letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation will still be collected electronically, but via online form. In addition to uploading their letters of recommendation, project advisors will be asked about the research compliance status of the proposed project; this change is being made due to delays that negatively impacted SURF awardees in past years.
  • SURF Mailing List. Students planning to apply for SURF can sign up for the SURF Mailing List to receive helpful application tips via email.

We look forward to another excellent set of SURF applications this year! The application deadline is Monday, January 30, 2017. We encourage all students to make use of SURF Office Hours to get feedback on their draft materials and to ask any questions they might have about the program or the application. SURF Office Hours are scheduled for 12/8, 12/9, 1/17, 1/20, and 1/23. Full detail about times and location can be found in the sidebar on the main SURF webpage.

Photos of SURF recipients

• Research Opportunities in Community Nutrition

There are several undergraduate research opportunities available in the Community Nutrition Research Lab for the coming semesters and summer. Details follow below, along with information about the relevant contacts for these opportunities.

“Healthy Fathers, Healthy Kids”: A community-based childhood obesity prevention program for low-income fathers and their preschool aged children

Seeking student assistants: Spring 2017, Summer 2017, and/or Fall 2017

Tasks include:

  • Leading nutrition activities with preschool age children (experience with Husky Reads and/or preschool children preferred)
  • Scheduling and reminders with fathers
  • Nutrition related assessments
  • Data entry and quality assurance
  • Technology enhancements (messaging, etc.) between sessions
  • Transportation would be needed if field experience (nutrition activities with children or nutrition related assessments) is desired; programs will most likely be during evening hours in other towns within Connecticut

Contact: Dr. Amy Mobley ( if interested; attach a resume and cover letter. The researchers will not reply to inquiries that do not include these attachments.

Food Insecurity Project: A mixed methods investigation into the experience of household hunger and food insecurity in families

Seeking student assistants: Spring 2017, Summer 2017, and Fall 2017

Tasks include:

  • Data entry and quality assurance
  • Transcription

Project TEAMS: A couples’ behavioral weight loss intervention

Seeking student assistants: Spring 2017, Summer 2017, and Fall 2017

Tasks include:

  • Data entry and quality assurance
  • Diet record analysis in NDSR
  • Healthy Eating Index calculation

Contact: Jaime Foster, MS, RD ( if interested; attach a resume and cover letter. The researchers will not reply to inquiries that do not include these attachments.

Messaging Project

We will be developing nutrition and health related messages for parents of 0-2 year olds focused on feeding practices. Once we are able to develop a set of messages, we will test the messages on parents throughout Connecticut and work on the best way to distribute this information.

Seeking student assistants: Spring 2017, Summer 2017, and Fall 2017

Tasks include:

  • Focus group assistant
  • Interview scheduling and reminders

Contact: Becca Heller, RD ( if interested; attach a resume and cover letter. The researchers will not reply to inquiries that do not include these attachments.

Dietary Guidelines and Fruit, Vegetable, and Whole Grain Studies

This completed project involved interviewing low-income participants in Connecticut to assess their diet, focusing on the plant-based food groups. An intervention was done to increase intake of these foods by providing specific behaviors and strategies to complete during the week, and then a follow-up interview took place with the participant.

The “Whole Grains Detective Challenge” was a display for participants to view and identify whether or not the foods on display were whole grain. An additional interview took place specifically with the low-income participants about factors influencing how they identified whole grain foods, and also if health reasons, family members, cost, and skills influence whole grain consumption.

Seeking student assistants: Spring 2017

Tasks include:

  • Data entry or cross check for the fruit, vegetable, and whole grains intervention behaviors
  • Diet record cross check for the fruit, vegetable, and whole grains study
  • Data entry to determine Healthy Eating Index Scores
  • Crosscheck of the Whole Grains Detective Challenge surveys

Contact: Molika Chea, MS, CHES ( if interested; attach a resume and cover letter. The researchers will not reply to inquiries that do not include these attachments.

Farm to School Research

Investigates how local food purchasing, school gardens, and hands-on nutrition education influences grade-school aged children’s health and behavior.

Seeking student assistants: Spring-Fall 2017

Tasks TBD

Contact: Jesse Chiero, MS ( if interested; attach a resume and cover letter. The researchers will not reply to inquiries that do not include these attachments.