Research Positions

Developmental labs that are actively seeking undergraduate research volunteers for academic credit for either HDP 199, HDP 193, or an HDP Honors Thesis are listed below, but 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. HDP 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

Spoken language processing in preschool-aged children

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


  • 2 quarter minimum commitment.  
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Available 8-12:30pm 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
Application Link:

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, 1:30-3:20 on campus in SSRB #308
  • Fieldwork: 3 hours, by arrangement on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays from 3:30pm - 6:30pm
  • 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

Future Research Positions

Pediatric Neuropsychology Research

Professor: Natacha Akshoomoff, Ph.D. UCSD Department of Psychiatry and Center for Human Development
Quarter of Availability: Contact lab about future openings


  •  Minimum 3.0 GPA
  •  Two quarter commitment preferred
  •  Eligible to work within an MRI environment (e.g., no metallic or electronic implants in the body)


Our studies examine cognitive, academic, brain, social, and emotional development in children. We use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine how much children differ from each other in the rate at which their brains develop, particularly in the connecting fibers that transmit information within the brain, and how closely this mirrors the pace of their cognitive and emotional development. We are studying typically developing children across time to learn more about patterns of development, as well as children who are at risk for math and other learning difficulties, and children who were born significantly premature. As a student enrolled in HDP 199 you will have the opportunity to learn about conducting research with children, including the use of standardized and computerized tests of cognitive and academic skills. Students interested in a multiple quarter commitment are strongly encouraged to consider enrolling in HDP 193.

Brain Development and Cognitive Function in Children

Lab: Center for Human Development (PLING Study)
Terry L. Jernigan
Contact:Sarah Dowling
Quarters of Availability: Contact lab about future openings

Minimum Requirements:

  • Proven experience working with children (background check may be required)
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Able to commit to a minimum of two quarters (summer participation counts as one)--more preferred
  • Must be physically able to be present in the MRI scan area to assist in preparing subjects for scan procedures
  • Flexible schedule--199/internship commitment must be a priority
  • Must be available to attend mandatory group trainings and at least three 2-day data camps in a quarter (dates TBA)

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Junior/senior standing
  • Experience testing
  • Spanish speaking


The Center for Human Development at UCSD conducts research projects focusing on factors that influence developing minds and personalities. For example, researchers at the CHD ask questions like how and why do we become individuals? What role is played by our experiences? By our genes? How does developing behavior relate to brain development?

Student researchers work on projects investigating brain development and cognitive function in participants between 5 and 12 years of age. The student research experience is organized around highly structured “data camps” that are held at times when children are out of school and attendance is convenient for families. Specifically, the research experience involves learning about, training for, and conducting data camps, as well as helping to process and examine the data acquired at these camps. Student researchers must be willing to commit to training, preparation, and weekend/holiday camp dates. Average 10 hours/week. Minimum 2 consecutive quarter requirement.

In addition, the center is also looking for English-Spanish bilingual undergraduate researchers. Bilingual student researchers will train to work with Spanish-English bilingual families recruited from local San Diego schools in Barrio Logan and Chula Vista

Responsibilities include assisting with the following: : 1) group activities and individual testing with children during data camps, 2) MRI sessions, 3) data entry, 4) testing at local schools, 5) running undergraduate SONA experiments, 6) data entry/quality assurance.

Compensation: Cognitive Science, Human Development, Linguistics, or Psychology 99/199.