UConn Research Opportunity

Research Assistant for Thermodynamic Foundations of Biological Behavior

Opportunity Description

This research project investigates bio-like properties and behaviors of non-living, self-organizing, physical systems called dissipative structures. The project aims at identifying core physical principles which underwrite biological capabilities by studying non-living bio-analogues. The primary system we study is an electrically driven dissipative structure (as an example watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxoZ0hHN12I).

We braid together concepts from psychology, cognitive science, kinesiology, physics, chemistry, and thermodynamics for a rich interdisciplinary methodology. This project is thus well-suited for undergraduates studying either the life-sciences or the physical sciences, and ideally an interest in both. Our projects for the near future include topics of evolution, learning, and social coordination. As an undergraduate research assistant, you would aid primarily in conducting experiments, as well as potentially designing and building experimental apparatuses. Ideally you will also learn some rudimentary data analysis tools in Matlab, R, or both (programming facility in other languages is also very welcome).

You would receive training to use the experimental systems, aided by a graduate student mentor, as well as a short survey of relevant research articles for conceptual background. Once you have developed some facility with the system, you would begin to run assigned experiments and collect data on your own. You would be expected to coordinate primarily with your graduate student mentor, and secondarily with your faculty mentor. The time-commitment is flexible and negotiable, likely not exceeding 10 hours a week. The assistant position is minimally for a semester, though renewal for future semesters is possible and ideal. The assistantship would begin at the start of the Spring 2020 semester. RAs will receive research course credits as compensation for their work.

Student Qualifications
Preferred Qualifications (but not required):
– Undergraduate-level physics knowledge (especially Thermodynamics and Electricity & Magnetism)
– Experience with programming languages (ideally Matlab and/or R)
– An interest in conducting future research
Required Qualifications:
– Good, consistent, work ethic
– Genuine interest in the topic (though you don’t need specific knowledge or experience)
– Desire to learn new concepts, experimental methodologies, and analysis tools

How to Apply
Please email Ben De Bari at Benjamin.de_bari@uconn.edu and include a brief description of why you’re applying for this position and an up-to-date resume. Strong applicants will go through a brief interview process with the graduate student (Ben De Bari) and faculty (James Dixon) mentors.

Mentor: James Dixon, Professor, Psychological Sciences
Mentor email: james.dixon@uconn.edu
Timing: Ongoing
Campus: Storrs

Bioinformatic Research Assistant

Opportunity Description

This is an opportunity to learn some of the computational and bioinformatic tools used in genomics.

The project is to study the genetic basis of evolutionary adaptation using whole genome sequence data and functional genomic data (RNA-seq). The study system is a pair of coastal fish species in the genus Fundulus that inhabit a wide range of salinities. A probable chromosomal inversion exists which is shared by the two species, associated with environmental salinity and encompasses a critical osmoregulatory gene. The project will confirm the presence of the inversion and analyze genetic and gene expression data from genes it encompasses from multiple populations of each species.

The work is entirely computational in nature, as the data have already been collected. The student would be expected to learn the basics of analyzing genetic variation data, gene expression data, and identifying structural variants from whole genome sequence data.

The expected time commitment would be 10-15 hours per week. Taking the project to completion would likely require two semesters.

Student Qualifications
Applicants should have some prior experience using the linux command line interface, and ideally some experience with the statistical computing language R. Prior coursework should include genetics.

How to Apply
Available immediately.

Please contact Noah Reid at noah.reid@uconn.edu

Applicants should submit a resume, and explain relevant coursework and prior experience related to bioinformatics (e.g. experience using command line interfaces, scripting languages, etc).

Mentor: Noah Reid, Assistant Research Professor
Department: Molecular and Cell Biology
Email: noah.reid@uconn.edu
Timing: Spring 2019
Campus: Storrs

Research Assistant in Accent/Dialect Study

Opportunity Description

Are you interested in accents or phonetics? Are you great with computers or music theory? This position involves assisting with research into the intonation patterns of various accents, specifically finding pitch relationships in particular speech utterances. There is also an opportunity to attend regular meetings with a faculty mentor and discuss relevant literature and research experiences in order to foster your education in the field.

This opportunity can be taken for course credit, or as a Work Study position (only for students with a federal Work-Study award), and runs in Spring Semester 2019. Students earning course credit can negotiate weekly hours (3 hours for 1 credit, 6 hours for 2 credits, 9 hours for 3 credits). Work-study students work 8-10 hours per week.

The role includes:
* Helping to recruit volunteer speakers of specific accents and request accent samples
* Assisting with recording sound samples from on-campus volunteers
* Orthographic (not phonetic) transcription of spoken samples from sound files
* Analyzing sound samples for fundamental frequency and musical interval relationships using appropriate software (e.g. Adobe Audition). Take screenshots and annotate with appropriate information. Record and organize this data.
* Assist in gathering and organizing related literature for review
* Read and summarize related literature
* Undergo online CITI Program Training Course (if required by IRB). This is online and takes less than 2 hours.
* Perform miscellaneous duties as directed

Student Qualifications
Skills/Qualifications required:
* Have excellent computer skills
* Have excellent communication skills
* Have great organizational skills and motivation

Preferred qualifications:
* Experience/education in any or all of phonetics, accents, linguistics, speech, music, sound engineering, computer science.

How to Apply
Please email your application to jennifer.scapetis@uconn.edu and include:
* Cover Letter (please write about why you would be good at the job and why it interests you)
* Resume
* References (Email or telephone numbers)

Looking to fill this position ASAP. Open until filled.

Mentor: Jennifer Scapetis-Tycer, Assistant Professor
Department: Drama
Email: jennifer.scapetis@uconn.edu
Timing: Spring 2019
Campus: Storrs

Research Assistant in Molecular Modeling Lab

Opportunity Description

Our group specializes in molecular modeling & simulation to study biomaterials, biomechanics and biophysical processes associated with the body’s function in health and disease. We are always interested in mentoring self-motivated undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds. Multiple projects are available depending on student interest and fit.

More details on the projects can be found at: http://me.engr.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/F18-REU-Anna-Tarakanova.pdf

The student will gain experience in molecular model development, atomistic modeling, coarse-graining approaches, molecular simulation setup and implementation on supercomputers, molecular visualization software, MATLAB/Python scripting, and scientific writing. The student will have a chance to participate in a collaborative project, and if successful, contribute to a scientific publication.

Research activities may include:
– Read and summarize related literature
– Build and iterate molecular models
– Perform simulations on computing cluster
– Post-process data
– Visualize and analyze data
– Meet weekly with faculty member

Commitment: 10 hours/week, including a weekly meeting with faculty member

Course credit available.

Student Qualifications
Helpful experience for all projects: Familiarity with scripting in the Linux environment, molecular modeling with molecular-dynamics-based approaches, experience with Python/MATLAB.

Preferred coursework: Differential Equations/Linear Algebra, Physics I: Mechanics/Statistical Physics, Biochemistry.

How to Apply
Interested students should email a resume/CV and a brief cover letter to anna.tarakanova@uconn.edu indicating why they are interested in this research opportunity. Please indicate whether you are interested in the Fall semester or both Fall & Spring.

Mentor: Anna Tarakanova, Assistant Professor
Department: Mechanical Engineering
Email: anna.tarakanova@uconn.edu
Timing: Fall 2018, Spring 2019
Campus: Storrs

Research Assistant in Neurobiology of Language (Psychology)

Opportunity Description

We are seeking motivated, fluid undergraduate research assistants to assist in data collection for an MRI brain study of parent-offspring similarities in language, reading, and math. Gain valuable experience and methodological skills while helping to understand how language is processed in the brain. Research assistants should commit to 6-9 hrs/week (2-3 PSYC 3889 credits) for Fall 2018-Spring 2019.

Student Qualifications
Required qualifications:
– Reliable
– Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
– Availability to assist in weekend data collection

Preferred qualifications:
– Experience working with children age 8-11

How to Apply
Email roeland.hancock@uconn.edu with a CV/resume. Include any relevant coursework, skills or experience, and a short statement of why the position interests you.

Mentor: Roeland Hancock, Assistant Professor
Department: Psychological Sciences
Email: roeland.hancock@uconn.edu
Timing: Fall 2018-Spring 2019
Campus: Storrs

• 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 (xygalatas@uconn.edu) 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
Email: xygalatas@uconn.edu
Timing: Ongoing
Campus: Storrs

• 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 (amy.mobley@uconn.edu) 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 (jaime.foster@uconn.edu) 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 (rebecca.2.heller@uconn.edu) 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 (molika.chea@uconn.edu) 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 (jesse.chiero@uconn.edu) if interested; attach a resume and cover letter. The researchers will not reply to inquiries that do not include these attachments.

• Research Assistant in Food Microbiology Lab

Opportunity Description
Depending on previous experience and interest, students will assist with ongoing research projects including but not limited to identifying and optimizing natural and novel means of controlling pathogens in cheese. These include the use of GRAS antimicrobials (e.g. hydrogen peroxide, lauric arginate ethyl ester, polylysine, and acidified calcium sulfate), protective cultures of lactic acid bacteria, and modified atmosphere packaging to enhance the shelf life and safety of dairy products. When taken for credit (independent study/undergraduate research), time commitments can range from 3-15 hours per week. Duration can be short as a single semester or renewed for multiple semesters. Depending on the individual, the opportunity is also available during the semester breaks. This opportunity is not a paid position.

Student Qualifications
We are looking for someone with an interest in dairy science, food science, and/or microbiology.
Coursework in microbiology and/or previous lab experience are preferred.

How to Apply
Email Dr. D’Amico (ddamico@uconn.edu) explaining your interest. There is no deadline.

Mentor: Dennis D’Amico, Assistant Professor
Department: Animal Science
Email: ddamico@uconn.edu
Timing: Ongoing
Campus: Storrs

• Research Assistant in Biomedical/Clinical Research

Opportunity Description
Patient outcomes research in clinical medicine utilizing large nationwide databases to investigate clinical questions related to liver disease and liver transplant. This is an opportunity for prospective students interested in being involved in biomedical research with the goal of learning and manipulating large medical databases. With the guidance of the mentor and statistical assistance, the prospective candidate will have the opportunity to participate in a research project in medicine. With the mentor, the student will develop a clinical question which can answered with the appropriate database, and gain experience proposing a hypothesis, working with statistical team, interpreting the results, and formulating conclusions from the results. There will be weekly meeting with the mentor and opportunity to have exposure to a clinical environment for those students interested to pursue careers in medicine. Work is primarily done independently with guidance, thus no specific number of hours per week commitment. One of the objectives of the project would be to allow the student to present his or her findings in a poster or oral presentation format at national meetings and eventual publication. This is currently a nonfunded volunteer position. The time commitment is variable depending on student’s proficency handling large databases.

Student Qualifications
Comfortable using excel database, be able to work independently, ability to perform online pubmed research to gather background literature on the topic, understand basic statistics

How to Apply
Please contact mentor directly;
Provide resume and letter of interest

Mentor: Raffi Karagozian, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine
Department: Gastroenterology & Hepatology
Email: rkaragozian@sfhcp.org
Timing: Ongoing
Campus: UConn Health

• Research Lab in Obesity Prevention

Opportunity Description
Community-Based Participatory Research in Obesity Prevention – This 5-credit course is intended to be taken as part of a year-long sequence; part II will be offered in Spring 2015.

This course provides a unique opportunity to study a complex health problem – obesity – from a social ecological perspective and to work with community partners to assist in the development, implementation, and evaluation of a statewide obesity prevention campaign using community-based participatory research methodology. Lectures focus on current obesity trends, causal factors of excessive weight, and the consequences of obesity. Community-based participatory research skills include focus groups, interviews, and environmental audits to develop an obesity prevention program that meets the needs of a diverse population. This is a unique learning opportunity that will allow students to work with a national health care consulting firm and a statewide media company to develop and test an obesity prevention program. To learn more about this research and how the course will fulfill Plan of Study requirements, please see: http://undergrad.psych.uconn.edu/2014/07/15/psyc-3885/ or contact Dr. Amy Gorin at amy.gorin@uconn.edu.

Student Qualifications
Interest in applied research, nutrition, physical activity, and health behavior change.

How to Apply
Please contact Dr. Amy Gorin at amy.gorin@uconn.edu as soon as possible to receive a permission number to register.

Mentor: Amy Gorin, Associate Professor
Department: Psychology
Email: amy.gorin@uconn.edu
Timing: Fall 2014, Spring 2015
Campus: Storrs