UConn Research Opportunity

• 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

• Research Assistant for Education/Psychology Students

Opportunity Description
Dr. Kearns’s work focuses on word reading difficulties in children in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. He studies the basic processes involved in word reading in children (links to cognitive and developmental psychology) and designs interventions to improve reading outcomes in these struggling readers. Work in his lab involves two kinds of tasks:
1) Work in schools with children, either testing them (links to school psychology) or delivering instruction to struggling readers (links to special education).
2) Work on campus to enter data and validate its accuracy (links to most social science research).

It is an expectation that students will work at least 10 hours per week. All students work as volunteers for one semester, and opportunities to conduct funded research are possible if the first semester is successful. Dr. Kearns was previously an assistant professor at Boston University. You can contact Michael Li (milkeli@bu.edu) if you would like to learn about Dr. Kearns, his lab, and his previous work mentoring undergraduates.

Student Qualifications
Qualified candidates will be willing and able to do both kinds of work. Important qualifications include these:
* Organizational skills
* Problem-solving skills and the ability to figure out complex tasks
* Flexibility
* Consistency and punctuality
* Hard work.
Other research skills are not required; most skills will be taught on the job.

How to Apply
Applicants should write to Dr. Kearns directly (devin.kearns@uconn.edu). Include your resume and your schedule for Fall 2014 in your inquiry. Review of applications is ongoing. Interviews may be scheduled via Skype as early as August 1, 2014. We look forward to hearing from you!

Mentor: Devin Kearns, Assistant Professor of Special Education
Department: Educational Psychology
Email: devin.kearns@uconn.edu
Timing: Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Summer 2015, Ongoing
Campus: Storrs