Prospective Undergraduate Research Assistants
Undergraduate research assistants in the laboratory will have the opportunity to learn substantive information about emotion regulation and temperament and will regularly participate in all activities supporting ongoing projects, including participant recruitment, data collection, and data coding and analysis, among other essential research related activities. When possible, research assistants are strongly encouraged to participate in the presentation of data at conferences and to develop independent research questions using data that is being collected as part of research projects or questions that can be easily accommodated within ongoing data collection efforts. It is hoped that these opportunities will facilitate first author presentations at conferences and/or senior honors theses for those who may be interested. At the conclusion of their time in the lab, research assistants will ideally have sufficient experience to make immediate contributions to research labs they may find themselves working in as graduate students or to be competitive for employment opportunities for lab assistant positions after graduation.
Research assistants (RAs) are expected to devote between 6 and 10 hours of work per week in the laboratory, which includes weekly lab meetings and readings. RAs who are actively involved in the lab have no difficulty fulfilling this requirement. A typical weekly schedule may consist of: 2.5 hours for meetings/training, 1 hour for readings, 4.5 hours for data collection, and 2-3 hours of participant recruitment, data coding, data entry, literature searches, or other essential activities. Depending on interest and/or need, RAs could spend additional time in research activities within the lab.
In addition to a minimum of 6-10 hours of involvement per week, we ask that RAs commit to a minimum of two semesters in the lab. Two semesters of participation is required for a variety of reasons; however, it is primarily to ensure that there is adequate time for each RA to receive sufficient training and involvement to gain competence in at least two areas. We strongly recommend that RAs remain involved in the lab for longer than two semesters. Involvement in the lab for longer than two semesters will allow those who are interested to participate in conference presentations at regionally, nationally, and internationally recognized venues, which is a valuable addition to any graduate school or employment application.
In order to join the lab, prospective RAs will meet with Dr. Bridgett and at least one graduate student for an informal interview. The purpose of the informal interview is to ensure to the greatest extent possible that there is a good fit between the lab and the RAs interests. Sophomores and Juniors are especially encouraged to consider being involved with the Emotion Regulation and Temperament Lab; however, outstanding Senior undergraduate students who are in the Fall Semester of their final year at NIU will be considered. Although not required, undergraduates who anticipate being available during all or a portion of the summer months are also encouraged to apply as research activity within the lab is year round. Undergraduate students who are interested in joining the Emotion Regulation and Temperament Lab or who are interested in additional information should contact Dr. Bridgett or any of the graduate students who work in the lab.
Benefits of Participation
There are many benefits to obtaining research experience in the Emotion Regulation and Temperament Lab. Chief among the potential benefits is excellent preparation for graduate training in psychology at the masters or doctoral level. As a result of the various research activities that take place in the lab, undergraduate students who participate will potentially be more competitive for graduate programs in clinical child psychology, school psychology, developmental psychology, and social work. In addition to these specific areas, due to the intensive training, undergraduate RAs who are interested in any area of psychology (e.g., adult clinical psychology, behavioral neuroscience, etc.) will find that their applications are significantly strengthened by their involvement in the laboratory.
In addition to the research experience, undergraduate students who participate in the lab have access to Dr. Bridgett and graduate students who can address specific questions regarding graduate school by providing tailored responses specific to the circumstances of a particular RA. Each semester, particularly in the Fall semesters, portions of lab meetings will be devoted to addressing questions about graduate school and to providing information to lab members about ways to prepare their applications, tips for identifying potential graduate programs, as well as other information that may be helpful in the graduate school application process.
As a result of participation, Dr. Bridgett as well as graduate students will be in excellent position to write letters of recommendation that can accompany graduate school applications. Finally, as already noted, RAs who participate for sufficient time and who are interested are also likely to have the opportunity to make presentations at conferences.