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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

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

Future Research Positions

4KEEPS study and the TEAMS study

Professor/PI:  Dr. Lauren Brookman-Frazee (Professor, Department of Psychiatry)
Contact: Catherine Kennedy (Lab Intern Coordinator)
Application Deadline: Varies. Upcoming recruitment period expected to be conducted in Spring 2019 for enrollment in subsequent Summer/Fall
Application Link/process: No link available. Application process typically involves the following steps: (1) Student sends email of interest; (2) lab intern coordinator provides student with information about lab + application; (3) student submits application, CV/resume, & unofficial transcript; (4) if selected, student is interviewed; and (5) if selected, student is invited to join lab.

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


  • Minimum quarter commitment: 2 quarter minimum (12 hours per week)
  • Minimum GPA:  3.0.
  • 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: None required
  • 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+
  • Specific Languages Preferred: Full Spanish comprehension
  • Preferred coursework or experience:
    • Coursework related to research methods
    • 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

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).

Our team is looking for an intern with a 3.5 GPA, who can commit 12 hours per week for two consecutive quarters, and with an interest in gaining research in child clinical psychology.

**Please note that you will not have direct participant contact in this internship.

Internship Objectives include:

- Enhance knowledge of research methods and conducting community-based research
- Assist in conducting clinical research examining the sustainment of evidenced-based practices for youth
- Enhance knowledge in evidenced-based interventions and implementation
- Enhance professional development

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

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 Developmental Sciences, Linguistics, or Psychology 99/199.