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Current Research Positions

Developmental labs that are actively seeking undergraduate research volunteers for academic credit for HDP 199 (Independent Study in Human Development), HDP 193 (Advanced Research in Human Development), or an HDP 194A-B-C (HDP Honors Thesis) are listed below. Students are also encouraged to directly contact other faculty members they are interested in working with to inquire about possible research positions and the type of academic credit they might be eligible to receive. HDS affiliated faculty members have unique and varied areas of study, so it is likely that students will be able to identify a faculty member whose interests mirror their own.

Current Research Positions

New Vistas Study

**Currently recruiting for Fall Quarter 2019**


Professor/PI: Dr. Tim Brown
Contact: Sarah Dowling 
Quarters of Availability: All quarters


  • Minimum quarter commitment: 1-year commitment
  • Minimum GPA:  3.0 (can be no lower than 2.5).
  • Specific availability:
    • Can attend weekly Lab Meetings (Fall Meeting Time: Thursdays 2- 3:30pm)
    • Can carpool to Vista a minimum of one day a week starting at 8:15am and returning at 2pm.
    • Can commit to a minimum of 10 hours/week
    • Occasional weekend availability needed.
  • Prerequisite coursework or experience: Experience with children is a plus, but not required.
  • Means of evaluation: Attendance in Vista administering cognitive-behavioral battery, attendance of weekly lab meeting.
  • Other:
    • Spanish speaking is a plus, but not required.
    • Reliable transportation encouraged.


  • Interested in child development, cognitive development, neuroscience, education, and/or music.

Lab/Position Description:

Dr. Tim Brown is conducting a longitudinal research project to learn more about relationships among psychological and social development, school learning, and brain maturation in children as they develop from 4-7 years old. The project will be held within the Vista Unified School District (VUSD) in Kindergarten classrooms. We plan to enroll about 100 child participants who will participate in school-based assessments that will occur three times each school year, for three years. The New Vistas Study is being conducted in close collaboration with the VUSD International Center for Educational Research and Practice.

The goal of the study is a better understanding of how mental development differs from one child to the next and in particular what factors contribute to individual differences in learning and educational outcomes. This information is needed to develop and test new activities and interventions that will promote academic achievement and help prevent behavioral disorders and academic failure. As part of the New Vistas Study, we will begin to develop enrichment experiences for children that might help them do better in school, such as with music and singing activities.

Your role as a Student Assistant would to be to assist with administering the cognitive and behavioral assessments to the children during school hours, attend weekly lab meetings, perform data entry, some in-office clerical work, and testing prep and attend occasional fun outings for team building. You may have the opportunity to learn about EEG, MRI, and other standardized cognitive assessments, such as the Woodcock Johnson ECAD, Stroop, NIH Toolbox, etc.

199 credit, or other credit options are available and highly encouraged.

Duties include:

  • Traveling to Vista at least one day a week to administer cognitive-behavioral battery (we carpool!).
  • Updating testing database after each testing session
  • Administering tests to children ages 4-5 years old in the Vista Unified School District.
  • Maintaining participant confidentiality.
  • Create, file, and keep organized participant folders according to IRB/confidentiality standards.
  • Attend weekly lab meetings.
  • Various other office tasks.

DN Lab

Professor/PI:  Dr. Leslie Carver, PhD
E-mail: or
Quarter of Availability: Ongoing: Fall, Winter, Spring, summer.  Please check for space availability during week 5 of the preceding quarter (or earlier)
Application Link:

HDP 199 Requirements (Note: can also enroll in HDP 193 for a letter grade):

  • Must be self-motivated, responsible, and mature
  • 3 quarter minimum commitment.
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • 4 units (2 units available during 3rd quarter only)

Lab/Position Description:

Research in the DN Lab focuses on the brain and behavioral basis of social cognitive and cognitive development in infants and young children. Students who work in the lab participate in all aspects of research, including recruiting participants, behavioral coding, testing participants using behavioral and EEG measures, data analysis, and manuscript preparation.  Highly motivated students may also develop independent, mentored projects. Studies currently being conducted include:

  • Development of the anticipation of social rewards, and its importance for social learning in early childhood and infancy
  • Tests of the “social motivation” hypothesis in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Development of multisensory integration and its relevance for ASD
  • Mechanisms of causal reasoning in typical development and ASD

Spoken language processing in preschool-aged children

Professor: Dr. Sarah Creel, Ph.D.
Quarter of Availability: Fall, Winter, & Spring (2 quarter commitment)
Application Deadline: Contact lab for information


  • 2 quarter minimum commitment.  
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Available 8:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. on at least one weekday.
  • Willing to work with children.


  • Spanish-English bilinguals especially desirable.


The studies address various aspects of how kids learn and recognize words, voices, accents, and music. The lab's major interest is how learners figure out what kinds of sounds count as "the same" and what kinds count as "different." Many studies use a remote eye tracker to assess how rapidly learners are able to identify what they're hearing.

Duties include: recruiting preschools into studies; administering experiments and vocabulary measures to 3-5-year-olds; recording spoken language materials; finding images for use in studies

Cognitive Development Lab

Professor: Dr. Gedeon Deak, PhD
Quarter of Availability: Ongoing: Fall, Winter, & Spring
Application Link:

199 Requirements (Note: can also enroll in HDP 193 or COGS 160 for letter grade):

  • Must be self-motivated, responsible, and mature
  • 3 quarter minimum commitment.
  • Minimum 3.4 GPA
  • 4 units (2 unit options not available)
  • At least two upper-division courses on neuroscience, cognitive science, human development, and/or psycholinguistic


  • At least 1 college-level biology/neuroscience course; some programming or database experience


Topics of ongoing research:

  • Infant-parent communication; early social perception and behaviors
  • EEG (brain activity) during social interactions of child parent and adult-adult pairs
  • Parental speech to infants and children; early language development
  • Reward-based learning, prediction, and cognitive control in social contexts

UC Links Preschool Project

Professor/PI:  Alison Wishard Guerra
Contact: Alison Wishard Guerra
Application Deadline: First week of each quarter
Quarters of Availability: all


  • 2 quarter minimum
  • Minimum GPA  2.5.
  • Specific availability: Mon/Wed/Friday morning
  • Spanish speakers encouraged
  • Means of evaluation:Weekly field notes, final paper
  • Prerequisite coursework or experience: experience with  young children and child development courses

Lab/Position Description: Curriculum Development RA, Data Collection RA, or Family Book Making RA positions open

Duties include:

Developing learning activities to implement with 3-5 year old children, writing weekly field notes documenting interactions, conducting observations, training on standardized assessment measures for preschool children. 

Democracy Lab for New Media & Community Life

Professor: Dr. Angela Booker, PhD
Quarter of Availability: Ongoing


  • Minimum 2.5 gpa
  • Lab Meetings: Thursdays, 1:30 p.m. - 3:20 p.m. on campus in SSRB #308
  • Fieldwork: 3 hours, by arrangement on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
  • Location: 4066 Messina Dr, San Diego, CA. (For carpool arrangements, please meet in SSRB #308)

Students will be working on a pilot research project called Democracy Lab, which mixes digital storytelling with community-based field work. This project gives students experience designing new digital media while engaging with theory that examines individual and group identity formation from a variety of perspectives, including the role of storytelling in the development of shared cultural and social understanding. Students attend lab meetings and develop field research experience in specially designed after-school settings working with children & families.

More information on the fieldwork site can be found at

4KEEPS study and the TEAMS study

Professor/PI:  Dr. Lauren Brookman-Frazee (Professor, Department of Psychiatry)
Contact: Cat Kennedy (Lab Intern Coordinator)
Application Link/process:

Quarters of Availability: all quarters (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer)


  • Minimum quarter commitment: Full academic year commitment (summer through spring)
  • Minimum GPA: 3.5+ GPA in psychology-related coursework (includes HDP, COGS, etc.)
  • Specific availability: Friday afternoons
  • Means of evaluation: 
    • Meets or exceeds hour-per-week commitment
    • Completion of assigned tasks
    • Great initiative in all tasks; above-and-beyond work
    • Positive attitude in work environment
  • Prerequisite coursework or experience: research methods (or equivalent)
  • Class Standing: Sophomore or higher
  • Other: Reliable transportation to our lab at CASRC (located at Rady Children’s Health Services in Kearny Mesa)


  • Class Standing: Junior or Senior standing
  • Quarter Commitment: 3+ quarters
  • GPA: 3.5+ overall GPA
  • Specific Languages Preferred: Full Spanish comprehension
  • Preferred coursework or experience:
    • Coursework related to learning, behavior, child development, and/or child disabilities
    • Experience with children with ASD or with other mental health disorders
    • Clinical experience (e.g., ABA) or lab research experience (not part of a research methods curriculum)
    • Experience with Microsoft Office, SPSS, and/or Adobe Acrobat Pro
  • Interested in:
    • Child clinical psychology
    • Gaining research experience in preparation for graduate school
    • Learning about mental health interventions for children
    • Learning about autism spectrum disorder and other mental health disorders
    • Mental health-related field

Lab/Position Description:

The Brookman-Frazee lab is involved in several NIMH-funded research projects that aim to improve the quality of care for children with mental health problems. The two primary research projects in which interns would be involved are the 4KEEPS study and the TEAMS study.

The “Knowledge Exchange on Evidence-Based Practice Sustainment” (4KEEPS) is an NIMH-funded study (PIs: Drs. Lauren Brookman-Frazee & Anna Lau) that aims to examine: the long-term impact of a large-scale initiative that provided training to therapists on evidence-based mental health interventions, whether these interventions are still being used, and therapists’ experiences with implementing these interventions. The “Translating Evidence-Based Interventions for ASD: A Multi-Level Implementation Strategy” (TEAMS) study is an NIMH-funded study (PIs: Drs. Lauren Brookman-Frazee, Aubyn Stahmer, & Anna Lau) that aims to improve provider training in evidence-based mental health treatments by testing ways to support therapists and teachers in their learning and delivery of treatments for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

**Please note that you might not have direct participant contact in this internship and it is off campus at Rady Children’s Hospital

Internship benefits:

  • Learn about diagnoses and mental health treatment in the real world
  • Gain experience in behavioral coding of real therapy sessions
  • Receive mentorship and training in research and professional development
  • Learn how to do research, review articles, and write research papers
  • Can be taken for no credit or for HDP 199 credit
  • May be able to support paper requirements for honors, capstones, theses, etc.

Duties include:

Tasks for an intern can include the following:

  • Code audio- or video-recorded psychotherapy sessions (i.e. observational coding) or qualitative data (e.g., interviews with therapist/teacher participants)
  • Attend didactic trainings/presentations (e.g., Implementation Science Seminar, intern professional development series, Autism Seminar Series)
  • Office/administrative support
  • Conduct reviews of published articles related to the 4KEEPS and TEAMS studies
  • Attend research meetings


Professor/PI:  Dr. Frank Haist, Ph.D. UCSD Department of Psychiatry and Center for Human Development
Contact: Kristina Lapira (Lab Coordinator)


  • Minimum quarter commitment: 2 quarter minimum
  • Minimum GPA:  3.0.
  • Other: Eligible to work in an MRI environment (e.g. no metallic implants in body)

Lab/Position Description:

Our research focuses on understanding brain development and its links to social cognition and perception from childhood through adulthood. We study development using functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI. As a student enrolled in HDP 199, you will have the opportunity to learn about developmental research. This will involve working with diverse populations, assisting with the administration and scoring of standardized neuropsychological tests and learning about different fMRI techniques.

Future Research Positions

Early Learning & Cognition Lab

Professor/PI:  Dr. Caren Walker
Contact: Nicky Sullivan (Lab Coordinator)


  • Minimum quarter commitment: 3 quarter minimum commitment
  • Minimum GPA:  3.0 (3.5 preferred)
  • Experience with kids necessary (formal or informal)
  • Previous lab experience is a plus
  • Knowledge of Excel preferred
  • Access to a car preferred

Lab/Position Description:

We invite students interested in pursuing developmental research to join the Early Learning and Cognition Lab starting in Spring Quarter and continuing beyond. Our lab researchers how children learn about the causal structure of the world. Research assistants will work 12 hours per week, with the opportunity to pursue an HDP 199 after completing one quarter in the lab as a volunteer.

Duties include:

Research assistants will contribute largely to data collection with some involvement in project development and data analysis as well. Data collection is conducted both at UCSD and off-site at museums and local preschools.