Physical Sciences

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

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