HRP SU23-46: Research Opportunity with Dr. Kristyn Zajac

Project Mentor

Dr. Kristyn Zajac
Department of Medicine, Calhoun Cardiology Center

Undergraduate Research Opportunity Description

Project Description The Collaborative Hub for Emerging Adult Recovery Research (CHEARR) at the UConn School of Medicine is recruiting students interested in learning skills to conduct research on recovery support services for emerging adults (ages 18-25) with substance use disorders, with a particular focus on opioid use disorder. CHEARR activities include establishing and collaborating with community boards consisting of emerging adults in recovery and recovery coaches providing services in community settings; developing a range of technical tools to advance the research on recovery support services and communicate these advancements to other researchers, professionals, and the public (e.g., tipsheets, webinars, social media content); developing and validating a measure of recovery capital specifically for emerging adults; and training the next generation of researchers in the field of recovery supports. The student researcher would have the opportunity to participate in all of the above activities as well as two ongoing randomized clinical trials led by Drs. Zajac and Kelly that are relevant to this research area: 1) a clinical trial evaluating the use of recovery coaches to reduce treatment dropout among emerging adults in community-based substance use treatment, and 2) the development and evaluation of an mHealth tool for use by emerging adults who present to the emergency department following an alcohol- or suicidality-related medical crisis.
Project Direction The student will primarily work on a research project funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse: the Collaborative Hub for Emerging Adult Recovery Research [CHEARR], R24DA057632, focused on recovery supports for emerging adults (18-25-year-olds) with opioid use disorder. CHEARR seeks to advance research on the efficacy/effectiveness of recovery support services, particularly continuing care models, for emerging adults who take or who have taken medications for opioid use disorder. We use a community-based participatory approach, which means persons with lived experience with opioid use disorder, and particularly with taking medications for opioid use disorder as part of their recovery process, are an integral part of the research team. As such, recruiting student researchers with lived experiences (i.e., in recovery from substance use and/or personal experience with familial substance use problems) is a high priority for CHEARR. Persons with lived experience are also included in our research team (i.e., in our investigative team and in community boards who oversee our research aims).
Mentorship and Supervision
Dr. Zajac will meet with the student weekly for individual supervision on project-related tasks and professional development. In addition, CHEARR Co-I Dr. Lourah Kelly will closely supervise and mentor the student on CHEARR-specific tasks.
Feedback will be provided based on the student’s preferences, which will be queried in initial supervision meetings. The student will be encouraged to create an individual development plan (IDP) and have progress to share on longer-term tasks monthly and on short-term tasks in weekly supervision meetings.
Student Qualifications
-Interest in research focused on emerging adults with opioid use disorder
-Understanding or willingness to learn about medication as one of many paths to recovery from opioid use disorder
-Interest in working as part of a team (i.e., with faculty, postdoctoral fellows, persons with lived experience, recovery coaches)
– Lived experience (i.e., in recovery from substance use and/or personal experience with familial substance use problems)
Applicants from populations underrepresented in science are strongly encouraged to apply.
Summer Schedule Options Research Dates: May 22 to July 28, 2023
Schedule: M-F, 9am-5pm
Project Continuation Fall 2023, Spring 2024
Academic Year Time Commitment 3-9 hours/week
Possible Thesis Project Yes


Submit an online application for this research opportunity at The application deadline is Monday, January 30, 2023.

This application requires a cover letter, a resume or CV, an unofficial transcript, GPA, a brief statement of research interests, and a brief statement of career interests. References should be available upon request.