Open Positions: Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP)

Hiring for Open Undergraduate Research Assistant Positions!!

($15/hour during Academic Year)


Student applications for Academic Year positions open on November 8, 2017. The deadline for applications will be November 22, 2017 (11:59PM). All positions can be converted to Work/Study positions. Faculty members are expected to make decisions by December 1st, and students will need to turn in their payroll paperwork to the Office of Undergraduate Research before leaving for winter break.

 

The Undergraduate Research Assistant Program pairs inexperienced students with faculty who are in need of assistance on their own research projects. In doing so, students who do not have sufficient research experience to design and carry out their own URG project gain first-hand mentored knowledge of research practices in their discipline, while faculty who would not otherwise be able to hire Research Assistants (RAs) get help with their own projects.

 

All URAPs pay $15 per hour. Since the maximum award for Academic Year URAPs is $2000, this comes to ~133 hours, to be worked between the time the student is entered in the Kronos payroll system and June 1st, 2018. Some positions may split the hours between two students. If you are interested in more than one position, you may separately to each one, but it is expected that your cover letter will be tailored to each position. 

 

Below, you will find:

  1. Application Instructions
  2. Expectations on Cover Letter and Resume Submission
  3. Link to Application Site
  4. List of Open Positions
  5. Detailed Descriptions of all Open Positions


Application Instructions (must do for each URAP position you apply to)

  • After finalizing your resume and tailored cover letter, save the documents as a PDF (see expectations below).
  • Below, click on the green “Apply Here” button and login to the application system using your netID and password
  • On the left hand panel, select “Apply for Open Applications”.
  • Click on the “Office of Undergraduate Research” department to view active positions.
  • Scroll down to find the position you are interested in. They are listed by the short title of the project, and underneath includes the faculty sponsor’s name.
  • Click on the title of the project (in blue) to submit your application.
  • Upload the PDF resume and cover letter. Hit submit.
  • It will take you to a survey, which you HAVE TO COMPLETE OR SUBMISSION IS NOT FINALIZED.
  • The system will automatically generate an email within 15 minutes indicating successful submission. The faculty will also receive an email notifying them of your application.
  • Faculty members hiring will be in touch regarding next steps (interviews, etc) when the application window closes on 11/22/17 at 11:59PM.

 

Expectations on Cover Letter and Resume Submission

You are applying for a position that is competitive – take the time to write a strong application. If you have not written a job application before we recommend you review the resources provided by Career Advancement before starting. The following tips should serve as a baseline; Students can receive additional advising on this process from Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA), and they can schedule an appointment through CareerCat. There are lots of helpful examples and resources on the NCA website, including a guide to creating a resume in 5 steps and information on cover letters.

Formatting:

  • Please keep both documents to a maximum of 1 page
  • Save documents as PDFs prior to submission
  • Minimum 11 point font

Content:

  • Refer to faculty using their correct titles: "Prof" or "Dr", not “Ms” or “Mr”. (And it should go without saying that you should never be using "Miss" or "Mrs" in a professional context unless the person you are addressing has specifically asked you to address them that way.)
  • Introduce yourself so they know who is applying. In the first paragraph, it is a good idea to let the faculty mentor a) who you are, your year, and potential major or field of interest, and b) share how you found out about the job opening (ie did their colleague recommend it to you? Listserv? Course you are talking? Office of Undergraduate Research staff member? Additionally, if you have a residential college affiliation (ie Willard, Shepard, etc) please mention this as well.
  • Tailor your application to the job you are applying for. A potential employer wants to know why you are interested in this specific position, and to get an idea of the skills, qualities, and experiences you would bring to it. They are less interested in generic discussion of your personal history, or experiences that have no bearing on the job they want done. So refer to specific reasons why you are interested in this position, and give reasons (supported with evidence – see below) for why you are the best candidate for this job. You will not likely be a competitive candidate if you cannot articulate why a specific job is a good match for you, and what you hope to get out of it.
  • Provide evidence for your statements. It’s not enough to say “I am passionate about history/genetics/psychology/etc.” Why should the person reviewing your application take your word for it? And how does your claim to be passionate distinguish you from all the other applicants claiming exactly the same thing? Demonstrate your interest through concrete examples of things you have already done. E.g., what coursework have you taken? What independent study? What prior experiences show that you had some interest in this topic before you read the job ad?
  • Your application must be professional. A potential employer is interested in your professional experiences and academic goals, not your hobbies and childhood memories. When you describe your background and interest in the field, remember that this is a job application and not a dating profile.
  • Give your potential employer enough information to make a decision. If you only provide generic information and do not give much detail on yourself, how can a potential employer evaluate your interest in, and suitability for, the job?
  • Copy edit your application before you send it. This should be obvious…you WILL be judged if there are typos or spelling errors. Don’t let silly mistakes hold back your application.

 

>>>> For a sample cover letter, click here.

>>>> For a sample resume, click here.

 

 

Once you have carefully read the description of the RA-ship you want to apply for, follow the instructions and

APPLY HERE

 

 

List of Open Positions

(scroll down for full descriptions or click on project title)

 

1)      Project title: Politics of Youth in Turkey

         Faculty name: Ayca Alemdaroglu

         School and Department: Sociology, Buffet Institute for Global Studies

 

2)      Project title: Media Descriptions of Redistribution

         Faculty name: Tabitha Bonilla

         School and Department: Institute for Policy Research & Political Science

 

3)      Project title: Valuation in the Global Art Market

         Faculty name: Larissa Buchholz

         School and Department: Communication Studies, School of Communication

 

4)      Project title: Developing Web TV

         Faculty name: Aymar Christian

         School and Department: Communication Studies, School of Communication

 

5)      Project title: Exercise for Frailty

         Faculty name: Margaret Danilovich

         School and Department: Physical Therapy and Human Movement, Feinberg

 

6)      Project title: Digitizing Environmental Literature

         Faculty name: Sarah Dimick

         School and Department: Kaplan Humanities Institute

 

7)      Project title: Russian Studies & Comparative Politics

         Faculty name: Jordan Gans-Morse

         School and Department: Political Science, WCas

 

8)      Project title: Couples

         Faculty name: Claudia Haase

         School and Department: Human Development/Social Policy, SESP

 

9)      Project title: Human Rights, Islamic Guardianship, and the Adoption of orphans from Muslim Majority Countries

         Faculty name: Katherine Hoffman

         School and Department: Anthropology, WCAS

 

10)   Project title: Pieces of Planets in the Asteroid Belt

         Faculty name: Seth Jacobson           

         School and Department: Earth and Planetary Sciences, Wcas

 

11)   Project title: The International Politics of Rebellion

         Faculty name: Morgan Kaplan

         School and Department: Buffett Institute for Global Studies

 

12)   Project title: Effects of Upper Limb Loss on Balance

         Faculty name: Matthew Major

         School and Department: Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Feinberg

 

13)   Project title: Cross-Racial Relations in the Archive

        Faculty name: Kaneesha Parsard

        School and Department: Kaplan Humanities Institute

 

14)   Project title: The Animation of Hamid Naficy (An animated film)

         Faculty name: Eric Patrick

         School and Department: Radio-Television-Film, School of Communications

 

15)   Project title: Processing Fake News

        Faculty name: David Rapp

        School and Department: Learning Sciences and Psychology, sesp

 

16)   Project title: Latino Politics and U.S. Demography

         Faculty name: Michael Rodriguez

         School and Department: Sociology, Wcas

 

17)   Project title: Developing Coatings Similar to Natural Surfaces (Biomimetic Surfaces)

         Faculty name: Caroline Szczepanski

         School and Department: Chemical & Biological Engineering, McCormick

 

18)   Project title: Reproductive Ecology of Wild versus Cultivated Plants

         Faculty name: Patricia Vitt

        School and Department: Plant Biology and Conservation, WCAS

 

19)   Project title: Plasticity of Memory Networks in Patients with Glioblastoma Multiforme

         Faculty name: Lei Wang

         School and Department: Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Feinberg

 

20)   Project title: Evaluation of a Hint Engine

         Faculty name: Willie Wilson

         School and Department: Electrical Engineering/Computer Science, McCormick

 

21)   Project title: social determinants of maternal/child health outcomes during pregnancies with diabetes

         Faculty name: Lynn Yee

         School and Department: Obstetrics and Gynecology, Feinberg

 

PROJECT DESCRIPTIONS:

 

1)     Project title: Politics of Youth in Turkey

         Faculty name: Ayca Alemdaroglu

         School and Department: Sociology, Buffet Institute for Global Studies

 

Faculty Bio: I am the associate director of the Keyman Modern Turkish Studies Program, research assistant professor in sociology and lecturer in Sociology and MENA. My research and publications engaged with a broad range of theoretical and ethnographic issues. These include youth culture and politics, gender and sexuality, constructions of space and place, experiences of modernity, nationalism, eugenics, and higher education. Much of my work concerns the ways in which social inequality is produced and reproduced through bodies, places, and institutions, and thus informs the experiences of ordinary people. Before coming to Northwestern, I was a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University.

Project synopsis: This project aims to examine politics of youth in the last two decades in Turkey. In particular, the research will focus on the political, legal and social transformation of Turkey by looking at the changing opportunities and constraints of young people.

Description of the RA position: The RA will be mainly responsible for helping with data collection, which involves collecting news articles and op-ed pieces in online newspaper archives and other online sources. 

Position Expectations: Dutiful, well-organized, detail-oriented, and laborious student to carry out an extensive survey of newspapers of multiple years.

Time Requirements: 8-10 hours per week. The project will be completed in 3 months.

Applicant Prerequisites: Knowledge of Turkish language (reading skills), interest in Turkey, politics and social change, enthusiasm for archival-based social science research. 

 

2)      Project title: Media Descriptions of Redistribution

            Faculty name: Tabitha Bonilla

            School and Department: Institute for Policy Research & Political Science

 

Faculty Bio: I received a Bachelor’s of Science from MIT in Biology and Political Science in 2007. I then received a Masters and Doctorate of Philosophy from Stanford University in 2014, and then spent two years as a post-doctoral researcher and teaching fellow and the University of Southern California. My research focuses on understanding how messaging affects voter perceptions of candidates and public policy. In particular, I research how promises on policy statements polarize the electorate, and alter support of (or opposition to) candidates. I also examine how different messaging frames around policy statements affect voter support for those issues and later mobilize the public to act on those issues.

Project synopsis: Social and political inequalities have drawn much attention in recent years, both in public discourse and in the social sciences. Research has tended to focus on documenting trends in inequality, examining public opinion and media coverage of inequality, or gauging inequality in representation. Little has been studied of the public discourse around a broad range of redistributive policies aimed to reduce inequality. In this paper, we identify these policies and investigate discourse around them, focusing on arguments for and against the policies, the types of beneficiaries discussed, the relative frequency with which various policies receive coverage, and whether causal attributions are mentioned. We conduct a text analysis of partisan and non-partisan news outlets and political discussions in both newspaper articles and news transcripts from 1996 to the present. We identify several important theories offering explanations of support and opposition to redistributive policies, and describe the extent to which each theory is reflected in the public discourse. Importantly, this allows us to examine how arguments presented in the public discourse map onto prominent theories in the scholarship on attitudes toward redistributive policy.

Description of the RA position: Students will have a two-part goal: first to help finish compiling the corpus, second to complete coding procedures, and finally to help document the data that they have coded. The students will be given instructions to complete the article gathering (already started and instructions compiled). Then, the students will be given some basic coding instructions, and will several meetings will give input that will help refine and shape the coding instructions. The students will then work to code various newspaper articles. After the coding is completed the students will be asked to help compile data on coding accuracy and data output. The students will participate with weekly meetings with me, and occasional meetings with other investigators in the project as needed.

Position Expectations: Students need to have an interest in the topic matters, and most importantly, ability to attend to detail. Students should have an interest in using Atlas.ti Software, and an interest in learning to use Stata or R and Qualtrics. It is a bonus if students are already familiar with statistical software, but not necessary.

Time Requirements: This position will be shared between two students who are expected to work 4-5 hours a week for 18 weeks (Winter and Spring Quarters). The hours are flexible, meaning that students can work more hours on some weeks than others, but should anticipate working a full 67 hours over Winter and Spring terms.

Applicant Prerequisites: None

 

3)      Project title: Valuation in the Global Art Market

         Faculty name: Larissa Buchholz

         School and Department: Communication Studies, School of Communication

 

Faculty Bio: I am an Assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies. My research engages with the dynamics of cultural production and markets in an increasingly globally interdependent and interconnected world. For my first book (“The Global Rules of Art”) my interest in global cultural issues narrowed to the art world. Specifically, in this book I examine the emergence of a global field in the contemporary visual arts and the different ways that artists become valued worldwide.  

Project synopsis: The project examines the valuation of Chinese Contemporary Art in the global art market. In the new millennium, contemporary artists from China benefited from an extraordinary rise at auction sales, achieving multimillion dollar prices that rivaled Western superstars. Given that just a few years before Chinese artists were marginal, the boom constitutes a genuine empirical puzzle and offers a fascinating case for examining the construction of value in a global cultural market.

Description of the RA position: For the URAP funded sub-project, I plan to involve two students in the analysis of textual materials from auction catalogues to trace what kind of meanings /categorizations appear in the framing of their art at key auction sales. The project would be collaborative (me and two students) and we would have regular group meetings. The students will be able to take part in all stages of a smaller qualitative research (sub)project: 1) They will help in finishing the sampling of the discourse materials and will thereby learn about what sampling is and why it is important for research (ca. 15% of the project time, since most of the data are already in ); 2. They will help in developing a coding scheme (ca. 20%); 3) they will acquire skills in coding the materials (50%); and 4) they will help in the creation of overview/summary charts of the results (ca. 15% of the project time). In this regard, they will also learn how to communicate results via visual representations effectively. Thus, the students will have the benefit to learn about all stages of a qualitative miniproject of the collecting and coding of discourse materials as well as the summary of the findings.

Position Expectations: Hiring two students, so maximum amount of money each student could earn is $1000. Available February – May.

Time Requirements: The project will start in February and the average weekly working hours would be 5 hours per team member. We can arrange time flexibly, e.g. regarding mid-terms or final exams.

Applicant Prerequisites: The applicant's prerequisites are most of all enthusiasm for learning about research, attention to detail and punctuality. Acquaintance with Excel and Chinese language skills would be a plus.

 

4)     Project title: Developing Web TV

         Faculty name: Aymar Christian

         School and Department: Communication Studies, School of Communication

 

Faculty Bio: My work focuses on how digital networking technologies affect creative industries, particularly television. My first book, Open TV: Innovation Beyond Hollywood and the Rise of Web Television (NYU Press, 2018), argues the web brought innovation to television by empowering independents to reinvent series development. My current project, Open TV (beta), is a platform to experiment with alternative models of series development that center marginalized artists. Using production and reception as sites, the platform provides a data set more diverse than traditional media studies and so requires student support across all skill levels (film production and editing, marketing, programming, transcription and qualitative data analysis).

Project synopsis: My current project, Open TV (beta), is a platform to experiment with alternative models of series development that center marginalized artists. Using production and reception as sites, the platform provides a data set more diverse than traditional media studies and so requires student support across all skill levels (film production and editing, marketing, programming, transcription and qualitative data analysis).

Description of the RA position: Students will assist with the production or social media data analysis of Open TV Original series and our series of pilots, Open TV Presents. The student focused on production will help organize and participate in filming a short pilot and its editing, giving insight into the value and limits of small-scale production. The student focused on development will take notes during meetings and transcribe prior meetings, giving them insight into how research can inform TV development and vice versa. The student focused on data/marketing will collect and organize quantitative social media data gleaned from five platforms; student may also assist a graduate student in auditing platforms for their research utility. Students who participated in the first cycle attest the experience provides rare insight to research and development in television as well as professional experience useful for jobs and exposure to diverse voices (queer, trans, women, people of color) necessary for entry into an increasingly diverse Hollywood job market.

Position Expectations: This project is hands-on, giving students the opportunity to shape creative projects and get recognition for their efforts. As this is an experiment in creative production, students will work as assistants to researchers and professionals, allowing them to be exposed to a diverse range of arts and production practices and offering them a plethora of professional experience in a short period of time. For this reason students will receive regular, one-on-one mentorship and will be given verbal or written feedback on all assignments. I will meet with students before and after each assignment to explain what is expected of them and how they can better meet expectations next time. Feedback includes what the student did well and what they need to improve. Students will also likely receive feedback and mentorship from professional technicians, artists and collaborators on projects while in production and in post-production.

Time Requirements: Project completion by end of the school year

Applicant Prerequisites: No -- each stage of the process requires different skills, so students can indicate interest and expertise: budgeting and contracting in pre-production; camera, lighting, sound in production; and possibly visual effects, color correction, or sound design in post-production. While skills are useful in production because the study asks about production efficiency in small-scale contexts, all skill levels are welcome.

 

5)      Project title: Exercise for Frailty

            Faculty name: Margaret Danilovich

            School and Department: Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement

 

Faculty Bio: I am a board-certified geriatric physical therapist with a PhD in public health who studies exercise interventions to reduce frailty.

Project synopsis: We have an ongoing exercise study in our lab where we study resistance exercise for homebound older adults. We developed an exercise program and created a mobile application that we loaded onto tablets given to study participants. We then trained 126 caregivers to deliver the exercise program with their client during usual care visits 2 times per week for 6 months.

Description of the RA position: In this research project, the student will be responsible for downloading exercise data from our mobile app. Once downloaded, the student will receiving training and be mentored in data cleaning and data analysis. Working with my supervision, the student will also create demographic tables documenting the length of each exercise session. In consultation with the research team, we will develop inclusion/exclusion criteria to determine what constitutes an exercise session. The student will then apply these criteria/rules to the data and perform initial analysis of the exercise sessions. The student will also learn how to construct fields in an existing Redcap Database and will enter exercise data into our database. Finally, the student will work with our research team biostatistian to analyze this data. Hiring a URAP student will benefit me as a faculty member by providing an additional team member who can immerse themselves in the exercise data to fully clean and process data. This will allow me to accomplish our research plan in a more timely fashion and will provide data that we can use for upcoming grant application.

Position Expectations:  The student will not be working with human subjects, but will be required to complete CITI training and IRB approval. This training will provide the student with information in research ethics and integrity. The student will be using a mobile application that was developed in collaboration with the Northwestern Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies. Data from the mobile app will be downloaded into a CSV file to input into SPSS software for cleaning, processing, and analysis. The student will receive mentoring from both Dr. Danilovich (faculty primary investigator) and Laura Diaz, primary research coordinator in the software processing and analysis. Dr. Danilovich will provide information on the study, research methods, and clinical trial process to provide the student a background and context on the scientific investigation.

Time Requirements: There is a great deal of flexibility in the work schedule for this project since this is a secondary data analysis project. Students will have flexibility to work between 2-5 hours per week on the project.

Applicant Prerequisites: None

  

6)      Project title: Digitizing Environmental Literature

            Faculty name: Sarah Dimick

           School and Department: Kaplan Humanities Institute

 

Faculty Bio: Sarah Dimick is a Postdoctoral Fellow with a joint appointment in the Department of English and the Kaplan Institute for the Humanities.  Her research is located at the intersection of climate science and global Anglophone literatures of the 20th and 21st centuries.  Sarah’s articles are forthcoming in Mosaic and ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment, and her discussion of the challenges of animating climatic research for a public audience can be found in the environmental humanities journal Edge Effects.  In her broader writing and teaching, she engages a variety of ecocritical approaches, including environmental justice, postcolonial and feminist environmentalisms, animal studies, petroaesthetics, and theories of the environmental future.

Description of the RA position:

Part of the challenge of analyzing literature and the environment on a global scale is representational: how do we document connections between stories—especially stories originating in disparate locales—without sacrificing local specificity? How do we visualize the interconnected nature of many contemporary environmental issues without collapsing them into a single master narrative? This project will use emerging tools in the digital humanities—including ArcGIS StoryMaps, Timeline JS, and Omeka—to document connections between works of contemporary environmental literature while also preserving a commitment to close reading and careful textual analysis. Integrating literary research in digital maps, interactive timelines, and photographic showcases, this project will create a richly layered analysis of contemporary global environmental literature. In the past few years, both the digital humanities and the environmental humanities have emerged as particularly vibrant areas of scholarly inquiry, and this project will allow an undergraduate researcher to develop an unusual degree of fluency in digital narration and representation.  It will also provide a chance to analyze currents of global environmental thought.

 

The content of this project--including text, photos, videos, and audio files--will be generated by me and the students in my winter and spring courses (my winter course focuses on global environmental justice writing and my spring course focuses on American environmental literature). The undergraduate researcher and I will work together to represent this diverse body of content online using new tools from the digital humanities. I expect that we will work together closely on our first digital projects and then, as the undergraduate researcher gains familiarity with the tools and methodologies of the digital humanities, he or she can take on a greater degree of authority in deciding how to best visualize or communicate the content through digital media.  We will continue to meet regularly as the year progresses, but my hope is that the undergraduate researcher will independently design digital projects by the end of the year.

 

Position Expectations:

Regular tasks will include:

1. Meeting to discuss key articles in the digital humanities

2. Editing photographs, audio files, and videos

3. Designing content in StoryMaps, Timeline JS, Omeka, etc.

4. Attending trainings in digital humanities tools

5.  Additional tasks will depend on the student researcher's interests and the skills he or she hopes to acquire

 

Time Requirements: 2-5 hours per week, depending on work flow.  Time requirements can be reduced during exam periods or prior to deadlines.

Applicant Prerequisites: Applicants are not expected to have previous experience in web coding or experience with any of the mapping or visualization tools employed in this project. However, applicants who expect to conduct future research in the environmental humanities or employ digital methodologies in future research projects—whether in literature, history, sociology, anthropology, or other fields—will be given special consideration.

 

7)      Project title: Russian Studies & Comparative Politics

            Faculty name: Jordan Gans-Morse

            School and Department: Political Science, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

 

Faculty Bio: I conduct research on corruption, the rule of law, property rights, and political and economic transitions, with a primary focus on the former Soviet Union. My first book, "Property Rights in Post-Soviet Russia: Violence, Corruption, and Demand for Law," explored the declining role of violence and the rising role of law in post-Soviet business conflicts. I am currently working on a new book manuscript, tentatively titled "To Steal or to Serve? Motivations for Public Service in Corrupt States." Drawing on evidence from Russia, Ukraine, and Georgia, the study examines the roots of systemic corruption and investigates strategies for curtailing the predatory states that plague citizens throughout much of the world. My research often involves the interplay of Russian/Eurasian Studies and Political Science, which is at the heart of the current URAP project.

Project synopsis: Two and a half decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, to what extent has Russian Studies been integrated into the broader field of Comparative Politics? On the one hand, the Soviet collapse opened numerous possibilities for analyzing Russia in comparative perspective, both because Russia’s post-Soviet regimes have been less clearly sui generis than communist totalitarianism and because contemporary Russia has remained sufficiently open for scholars to obtain data in numerous and novel forms.  On the other hand, Russia’s geopolitical stature, expansive geography, and legacy as the former heart of a communist empire continue to present challenges for scholars seeking to apply lessons gleaned from Russia to other contexts, and vice versa.  The current project addresses the question of the extent to which Russian Studies has been integrated into Comparative Politics, drawing on content analysis of Political Science journals, investigation of hiring trends in Political Science departments, and a literature review of debates over critical topics such as democratization, authoritarian institutions, clientelism, and the politics of economic reform and development.

Description of the RA position: Two RAs will be hired, and these students will initially conduct two tasks. The first will be content analysis of articles from political science and comparative politics journals. We will be creating a data set for the years 1990-2016 based on eight journals and coding articles by their geographic and thematic focus. Each student will do the coding independently and then the results will be checked for intercoder reliability. The second task will be to create a data set about the geographic expertise of political scientists at universities throughout the United States. This will require analyzing data from scholars' websites and, potentially, conducting a survey of political science PhD candidates. This work will not require intercoder reliability and so will be split among the two students. The final task will be to conduct basic analyses using descriptive statistics and help make tables for a conference paper that will, hopefully, eventually be a journal article.

Position Expectations: The day before each meeting each student will submit an update by email detailing progress that has been made in their data collection efforts. I will review this and provide feedback at each meeting. To encourage independence as researchers, students will be given general research goals and asked to contribute suggestions as to how these goals can be achieved. If students struggle to meet expectations, I will in early stages of the project devote more time to working hand-in-hand on the tasks so as to personally demonstrate how I expect the work to be completed.

Time Requirements: 5-10 hours per week.   

Applicant Prerequisites: The position will be open to students majoring or minoring in Political Science.

There will be a preference for fourth or third year students, but applications from qualified second-year students will also be considered. At minimum, applicants will be expected to have taken Introduction to Comparative Politics (or a course that covers similar material). Knowledge of the former Soviet Union is a plus but is not required. The ideal candidates will be highly attentive to detail and capable of reading and analyzing large amounts of material very rapidly.

 

8)      Project title: Emotions in Couples

            Faculty name: Claudia Haase

            School and Department: Human Development/Social Policy, School of Education and Social Policy

 

Faculty Bio: I am a life-span developmental psychologist. A central assumption guiding my work is that the range of motivational, emotional, behavioral and genetic factors that promote successful development may be wider than we think. What is harmful in one context can be beneficial in another. My research program examines diverse outcomes of successful development (e.g., well-being, health, relationship quality) in age-diverse samples (i.e., from adolescence to late life) using multiple methods (i.e., physiological measures, behavioral observations, subjective experience, genotyping) and diverse study designs (e.g., longitudinal and experimental).

 Project synopsis: The main focus of the academic year centers on our “Emotions in Couples” study. This is an ongoing study at the Life-Span Development Lab at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. We are studying emotional functioning in married couples using a laboratory-based approach to probe couples’ emotions (e.g., by having them engage in discussions of areas of pleasure and disagreement) and taking into account multiple emotion response systems (subjective emotional experience, emotional behavior [face, body, voice], physiological arousal).

 Description of the RA position: The research assistant (RA) will actively engage in a range of research learning experiences including reviewing academic literature, participant recruitment, data collection, observational coding of emotional behavior, psychophysiological assessment, and data analysis. Specifically, the RA will be working with other undergraduate and graduate students on the Emotions in Couples study, along with learning about other ongoing studies in the lab. Specifically, RAs will review relevant academic literature on emotion, relationships, psychophysiology, cognition, and well-being. They have a significant role in the data collection of this study—they help recruit and schedule married couples to come into the lab, learn how to attach sensors that measure physiological activity, monitor the physiological signals during the study, and are responsible for giving instructions to participants during the session. RAs also learn how to prepare this data for analysis. For instance, they get trained by graduate students in observational coding systems to code emotional behavior of the videotaped conversations the couples are having. They also get exposure processing the physiological data. Finally, they participate in weekly lab meetings and regular meetings with me.

Position Expectations: Bright, dedicated, reliable, and interested in the study of emotion, psychophysiology, relationships, and developmental psychology. Student must be able to continue to conduct research with us during the academic year 2018/2019.

Time Requirements: 7 hours per week during winter and spring quarter 2018.

Applicant Prerequisites: We are particularly interested in freshmen and sophomores who are bright, dedicated, reliable, and interested in the study of emotion, psychophysiology, relationships, and developmental psychology.

 

9)      Project title: Regimes of Care: Human Rights, Islamic Guardianship, and the Adoption of Parentless Children from Muslim Majority Countries

            Faculty name: Katherine Hoffman

           School and Department: Anthropology, WCAS

 

Faculty Bio: Katherine E. Hoffman is a linguistic, legal, and sociocultural anthropologist who conducts qualitative research (participant observation, interviews, and discourse analysis) as well as historical archival analysis. An Associate Professor of Anthropology, she specializes in the relationship between ethnicity, law, history, political economy, and expressive culture. Her research explores this nexus primarily in North Africa and France from the late 19th c. to the present, particularly as it has been shaped by the processes of French colonialism, anti‐imperialism, nationalism, and postnationalism. She has published two books, the ethnography We Share Walls: Language, Land and Gender in Berber in the Maghrib (Indiana 2010) and is drafting another, Mirror of the Soul: Language, Islam, and Law in French Native Policy of Morocco (1912‐1956), in addition to scholarly articles and research reports on customary, state and Islamic law in Morocco, and on song and talk among Moroccan Imazighen. Hoffman’s last fieldwork project in North Africa, Revolution’s Refugees, examined the co-existence of two groups of Imazighen (Berbers) during the uprisings around the so-called Arab Spring and the Libyan Civil War of 2011-2012: Libyan refugees from the Nalut region and their rural Tunisian hosts in the Tataouine and Djerba island areas. Regimes of Care is Dr. Hoffman’s first research project based in France and grounded primarily in interviews and discourse analysis of official legal, administrative, and political texts concerning transnational families created through fostering and adoption.

Project synopsis: The research project Regimes of Care examines the challenges involved in transposing an institution inspired by Islamic law Regimes of Care from the North African states where it originates into European and North American states. Specifically, the project examines Islamic guardianship (Arabic kafala) of parentless or abandoned children born in Algeria and Morocco and raised by European or North American citizens (often of Maghrebi descent). It considers the controversial processes through which many kafil parents adopt their children born under personal status laws that prohibit adoption (Ar. tabani); that is, the kafala guardianship is not supposed to be converted into an adoption, but there are moral, sentimental, and practical reasons that most kafil parents pursue adoption. Kafala entails the judicial transfer of parental authority, and the kafil guardian-parent undertakes to ensure the protection, education, and upbringing of the abandoned child until adulthood, with no right for the child to claim filiation or inheritance. This system contrasts with the forms of adoption available in many Western countries: plenary or full adoption (Fr.adoption plénière) which entails a judicial establishment of descent from adoptive (non‐biological) parent(s), breaking the child’s filiation with biological parents, if known (the form of adoption required in the United States and available in France and elsewhere, for instance), and simple adoption (Fr. adoption simple), permitted in some countries (including France and Belgium), which adds a tie between child and adoptive parent(s) without severing the child’s link to biological parents. Adoption and guardianship arrangements permitted by law vary even within Western legal systems, and more specifically to my project, within the European Union, despite Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) that ensures respect for family life and privacy for all European families, a concept its case law is gradually defining.

Description of the RA position: The student will contribute to a research project on transnational families formed through kafala (Islamic guardianship) and living in Europe or North America, especially France and the United States. The student researcher should be interested in – but not necessarily have research experience in -- some combination of the following: human rights law, child law, adoption law, Islamic law, North Africa, Europe, or kinship. Depending on the student researcher‘s interests and language skills, there are several ways to contribute to this project. The research will be mostly conducted individually and is largely qualitative, although there are some components for which familiarity with statistics wouldn be helpful.

              If the student has French reading skills, s/he will assist in researching legal decisions concerning kafala (Islamic guardianship) in France and Belgium over the last twenty years. A significant change to the French civil code in 2001 prohibited the adoption of children from countries whose personal status laws prohibit it, which includes Morocco and Algeria, the two countries most concerned. However, there were still parents who adopted their makful wards, or tried to, and a review of court records will track this. The student will work with online databases of French legal decisions at the local, appeals, and cassation levels, as well as the databases of the European Court of Human Rights. If there are gaps in the records available online, the student may need to email or phone for information. In addition, with French reading skills, the student will be able to regularly check the kafala support boards associated with the two main associations for kafil parents in France to monitor concerns and developments.

              If the student has advanced Arabic reading skills, it may be possible to do research on legal provisions around filiation in Morocco and Algeria, again primarily internet based.

              If the student instead has primarily English skills and a strong interest in human rights, child law, international courts, law, etc., the student can help develop a component of the project that is currently least developed. This concerns the social and legal lives of kafala families in North America, both the United States and Canada. For this, the student will familiarize him/herself with the one Muslim adoption agency operating in the US, New Star Kafala, and most importantly the agency’s explanations as to why adoption is permissible for Muslim children when it is widely prohibited in Muslim-majority countries. A council of Islamic and Muslim legal scholars in the US has produced a report advocating for the adoption of Muslim children, and providing support for this position from the original religious sources (Quran and hadith, but also analogy based on basic principles of Islam including compassion and mercy). To research this part of the project, the student will transcribe available video lectures which will be most comprehensive if the student knows some Arabic and/or has familiarity with Islamic sources. If s/he does not, we will work through them together and seek outside training through the reference librarians and secondary source materials as necessary.

 

Position Expectations: Regardless of the skills profile of the student Regimes of Care researcher, there will be an evolution of tasks through the course of the year dependent on research findings that will call for further analysis or alternative approaches. Bi-weekly meetings between mentor and student researcher will allow for guided training, discussion of findings, and steps forward

Time Requirements: Applicants may apply to work either half time (5 hrs/week) or full time (10 hrs/week) depending on their schedules. One or two student researchers may be hired, with a strong preference for one researcher. If one student is hired, the student is authorized to work up to 133 hours before summer 2018; if two are hired, the award will be split and the student will be eligible to work 66.5 hours

Applicant Prerequisites: Preference for at least sophomore status and proven ability to work independently and efficiently. Preference for reading knowledge in French and/or Arabic, possibly Spanish, but not required. Interest in human rights law, international law, comparative law, international adoption, and/or international migration, North Africa, contemporary Europe.

 

10)   Project title: Pieces of Planets in the Asteroid Belt

           Faculty name: Seth Jacobson           

          School and Department: Earth and Planetary Sciences, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

 

Faculty Bio: I am a tenure-track assistant professor in the Earth and Planetary Science department of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Project synopsis: My research program focuses on understanding the history of Solar System bodies like planets, moons, asteroids, and comets. The Earth and other planets grew from the accretion of smaller bodies during the earliest epochs of Solar System history. During these impact events, some material from the Earth was ejected into space and dynamically transported via gravitational interactions onto stable orbits in the asteroid belt. While there is evidence for this process, there are a lot of open questions. Such as what fraction of material is transported to the asteroid belt? How much is re-accreted by the planets? The student and I will explore each of these questions and others.

Description of the RA position: The student will run a suite of numerical simulations to investigate the transport of planetary debris from the terrestrial planet-forming region to the asteroid belt. These simulations will be 'owned' by the student and it will be their responsibility to set them up, run them, and analyze them. We will meet weekly and one-on-one to evaluate last week's progress, discuss science, and determine next week's tasks. Ultimately, the student will write up the results of the project for publication and present them at a scientific meeting. This is an individual project for the student overseen by myself.

Position Expectations: My goal is to train the student to be a methodical and deliberate scientist. We will establish large goals for the entire project from which we will estimate what can be done in the upcoming quarter based on a sense of what may be required, our estimated competence towards the tasks at hand, and the student's available time. These goals will be agreed to by both of us and recorded with a syllabus-like document at the beginning of each quarter. At the end of each quarter, we will assess how we fared at each goal including a discussion of how our approach could be improved. These goals will be both content and skills based. Examples of quarterly content based goals include getting the software working, understanding specific scientific papers, running the simulations, writing the analysis code, writing the report, etc. Examples of quarterly skills based goals include increasing proficiency in a particular computer language, improving presentation skills, etc. Skills-based goals may also set expectations for time management, communication, and documentation. Throughout the quarter, we will set weekly task(s) to make progress towards those goals at our regularly scheduled weekly one-on-one meeting (expected one-hour duration). During this meeting, we will review progress on last week's task(s), discuss successes/setbacks, and set next week's tasks(s). Weekly tasks will be specific, and they will be tuned to both the time available to the student and the needs of the project including taking into account recent setbacks. The expectation will NOT be that all planned tasks are completed each week, instead, the expectation will be that the student made an effort that they can describe to me at the next meeting so that we can assess how to reexamine any unfinished tasks. Tasks found to be unworkable or too difficult will be broken down by the student and myself into more feasible steps.

 Time Requirements: The expectation for the student will be 5-10 hours per week with the understanding that classwork may occasionally interfere with time set aside for research. This will include our approximately 1 hour a week one-on-one meetings. I will also be available to the student by email as well as scheduled and walk-in appointments.

 Applicant Prerequisites: Some computer programming experience will be preferred, but training will be provided if inexperienced. If not a first-year student, then I will expect to see that they have successfully managed their coursework in the past. Members of underrepresented groups in STEM fields are highly encouraged to apply.

 

11)   Project title: The International Politics of Rebellion

           Faculty name: Morgan Kaplan

           School and Department: Buffett Institute for Global Studies

 

Faculty Bio: Morgan Kaplan is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Buffett Institute for Global Studies at Northwestern University, and was previously a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University and a Predoctoral Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. Kaplan’s research examines the international politics of rebellion with a focus on how opposition groups use diplomacy to solicit third-party support. His work also examines intra-insurgent politics, international security, and state formation. The empirical focus of his work is on the Middle East, with a specialization in Kurdish and Palestinian politics. Kaplan has conducted field work in Iraqi Kurdistan, Israel-Palestine, Jordan, and the United Kingdom. Kaplan holds a B.A. in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

Project synopsis: Student researchers will become integral to the preparation of my book manuscript for publication by assisting me in the construction of new case studies that apply my theory of insurgent diplomatic strategy to conflicts around the world. My book manuscript includes qualitative research on insurgency in Iraqi Kurdistan and Palestine, however, the book manuscript will include a new, additional chapter to test my theoretical argument against three cases outside of the Middle East, or within the Middle East but prior to World War II. The primary role of student researchers is to help in the construction of this new chapter. Other tasks may include researching and identifying new data sources, literatures, and archives, as well as fact-checking and minor editorial work for the book project and related projects on rebellion and civil war.

Description of the RA position: Student researchers will become integral to the preparation of my book manuscript for publication by assisting me in the construction of new case studies that apply my theory of insurgent diplomatic strategy to conflicts around the world. My book manuscript includes qualitative research on insurgency in Iraqi Kurdistan and Palestine, however, the book manuscript will include a new, additional chapter to test my theoretical argument against three cases outside of the Middle East, or within the Middle East but prior to World War II. The primary role of student researchers is to help in the construction of this new chapter. In consultation with myself, the student will select a conflict of their interest - to ensure maximum educational benefit from the research - and then do as much reading and research on that case as possible to produce a report that I can use to begin the process of constructing a case study based on their preliminary work. As such, students are responsible for tracking down important readings and documents, and providing real analysis that will help me complete this additional chapter more quickly. Additional tasks may include transcribing interviews that I have conducted for my book and translating new documents if they have requisite language skills.  Furthermore, other tasks may include researching and identifying new data sources, literatures, and archives, as well as fact-checking and minor editorial work for the book project and related projects on rebellion and civil war.

Position Expectations: Training will be paid and take place at a pace that is appropriate for the student. The student and I will meet in person for 1.5 hours as a first training meeting and then meet for 30 to 60 minutes each week throughout the data project to make sure training is ongoing and to allow students to reflect on the various skills they've learned, as well as to reflect on the various issues and difficulties they are running into. I will also provide readings for the student that will touch on research methods and best research practices. By the end of the research assistantship, students should feel confident in their ability to conduct their own qualitative case study on another case of their choosing, or to continue that case study for their own research purposes.

Time Requirements: Time frame for this project will be between 6-12 weeks. Students are expected to work at least 65 total hours over the course of the employment period, with a potential maximum of 133 hours. Total number of research hours will be determined by the number of RA’s hired (1-2 students). Students are expected to work between 5-12 hours each week.

Applicant Prerequisites: I plan to hire one or two undergraduate students from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences who have limited or no prior independent research experience to ensure they are gaining the maximum educational benefit from the research assistantship. Students may come from any major, although ideally students will have an interest in pursuing a major in, or already be majoring in the social sciences and humanities, in particular the departments of political science, history, sociology, anthropology, and general behavioral sciences. Students should be interested in studying the history and politics of rebellion, revolution, civil wars, and international conflict. Students with foreign language skills are strongly encouraged to apply. Students will primarily be evaluated by their interest in conducting new research, eagerness to learn about rebellion and civil wars, and willingness to hone new research skills. Ideally, students should be at least in their sophomore year.

 

12)   Project title: Effects of Upper Limb Loss on Balance

           Faculty name: Matthew Major

           School and Department: Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Feinberg School of Medicine

 

Faculty Bio: I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and a member of the Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center. My research focuses on exploring the mechanisms that underlie postural control and locomotor performance of individuals with neuromuscular and musculoskeletal pathology who use assistive devices such as prostheses and orthoses. My background is in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, and so I regularly make use of engineering analytical techniques to study aspects of motor control and biomechanics of human movement. My passion for rehabilitation research stems from a desire and ability to directly observe the positive effects of my work on the quality of life of individuals with impairments.

Project synopsis: The goal of this research project is to understand how upper limb loss affects an individual's postural control to identify if there are therapeutic or device interventions to help improve their balance and safety.

Description of the RA position: The research assistant will contribute to the processing, analysis, and interpretation of biomechanical data collected previously on 10 research participants with upper limb loss. These activities will be completed using custom code in MATLAB software and the assistant should have some experience with this software through prerequisite coursework. Working closely with me, the assistant will be instrumental in helping understand these data and preparing them for both scientific/clinical conference presentations and manuscripts. Ultimately, this analysis will provide strong preliminary data for future grant proposals to continue this line of work and generate more opportunities for future student research assistants. To enrich the learning experience, the assistant will participate in weekly laboratory meetings and either present updates on their work to the research group or discuss a journal paper relevant to their research project. Sharing ideas within my group is an essential part of developing our research initiatives. The assistant will also have the option of attending relevant bimonthly seminars hosted by the Departments of Physical Therapy & Human Movement Sciences and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago).

Position Expectations: The assistant is expected to meet with me at least once per week (more if desired) to review their progress, discuss goals, and receive feedback. The assistant will be encouraged to communicate obstacles faced during any part of the research activities, and will work with me to identify and execute solutions that fit their learning style. Through this mentoring process and by participating in this research project, the assistant will develop their analytical skills, technical communication, and troubleshooting ability, as well as an appreciation for and understanding of the research process. Students will be commuting to Northwestern’s Chicago campus.

Time Requirements: The assistant will be expected to dedicate an average of 8 hours per week over the academic year at 9 weeks per quarter. They will have dedicated space and computing resources at the Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center (Chicago Campus).

Applicant Prerequisites: Priority will be given to students without previous research experience, but have some experience with MATLAB software coding and have an interest in rehabilitation engineering.

 

13)   Project title: Cross-Racial Relations in the Archive

           Faculty name: Kaneesha Parsard

           School and Department: Kaplan Humanities Institute

 

Faculty Bio: Kaneesha Cherelle Parsard is the Postdoctoral Fellow in Critical Race Studies, and holds affiliations with the Kaplan Institute, the Department of African American Studies, the Asian American Studies Program, and the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program. She has a Ph.D. in American Studies and African American Studies, with the Certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, from Yale University (2017). Kaneesha’s expertise lies in examining Caribbean literary and visual cultures through feminist approaches to the legacies of African slavery and Indian indentureship. Her first book project, Improper Dwelling, uses analysis of British West Indian literary and visual cultures as well as archival materials to examine how British colonial housing and planning sought to manage and separate African and Indian labor populations in the period between emancipation and independence. Kaneesha's research has been supported by the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, the Social Science Research Council, and the American Council of Learned Societies and her writing is published in American Quarterly and the volume Indo-Caribbean Feminist Thought.

Project synopsis: What do the relations between African and Asian populations in colonial and postcolonial contexts look like? Where are the possibilities for solidarity, and why do tensions emerge, between these groups? How do racial discourses impact colonial and sovereign state bureaucracies such as housing and planning, agriculture and nutrition, and others? This research project is an introduction to archival research, and to critical approaches to the archive, through the lenses of race, colonialism and postcolonialism, and gender and sexuality. Through archival research in Northwestern-based archives and interpretation of research conducted at external archives, the student will examine race relations between Africans and Asians in locations throughout the African and Asian diasporas.

Description of the RA position: The student will conduct archival research at the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies and assist me with interpretation of previous archival research at the National Archives United Kingdom in order to examine race relations between Africans and Asians in locations such as the British West Indies, Dutch West Indies, East Africa, and South Africa. The student will spend approximately half the time conducting archival research. The remaining time will be devoted to interpreting the findings and reading brief essays on critical approaches to the archive. In addition to providing foundational research experience, the student's work will also help me as I revise my dissertation on race and informal housing in the British West Indies into a book, and begin my second project on nutrition in the British Empire. Throughout this mentoring relationship, we will also address the student's emerging independent research questions. To this end, I will direct them to archival resources and to appropriate secondary readings in relevant fields.

Position Expectations: The student will spend approximately half the time conducting archival research in the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies and reviewing relevant documents from the National Archives UK. The remaining time will be devoted to interpreting the findings and reading brief essays on critical approaches to the archive. Every two weeks, we will discuss the findings and readings in meetings.

Time Requirements: The project will be completed during the winter and spring quarters in 2018. Over this period, the student will work approximately 6-7 hours/week.

Applicant Prerequisites: Given my departmental affiliations, I would be open to a candidate who studies any combination of the following disciplines: African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Humanities, and/or a related

major or minor field of study in the humanities.

 

14)   Project title: The Education of Hamid Naficy

           Faculty name: Eric Patrick

           School and Department: Radio-Television-Film, School of Communications

 

Faculty Bio: With over twenty-five years of experience in the entertainment industry, Eric Patrick’s commercial animation and independent experimental works have received a Peabody Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, over 100 grants, fellowships, and awards at international film festivals, and several Emmy nominations. His additional work in information design has received grants from the

National Institute of Health (Reproductive Health), and the Chicago Digital Media Production Fund (Citizen Primer). He has screened extensively both domestically and internationally at festivals, museums and on television, including screenings at the Rotterdam Film Festival, The Museum of Modern Art, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the South by Southwest Film Festival. He was an animator for the seminal Nickelodeon program “Blues Clues,” and has written several articles about independent animation. He is currently an associate professor at Northwestern University.

Project synopsis: Hamid Naficy is the leading scholar in Iranian film.  Known in film studies circles worldwide, his work has become the benchmark for studies in exile cinema, third world cinema, and cinema of diaspora.  For over fifty years, Naficy has been involved in the Western educational model of academic institutions, which often involves listening to lectures and presentations of prominent scholars, philosophers, theorists and critics to better understand the evolving context of film, art and cultural studies.  During this time, Naficy has a habit of drawing caricatures of the person speaking, adding little elements into the drawings that create a visual commentary on what the speaker was talking about.  Over the years, he has created well over a thousand of these drawings, including caricatures of some of the most prominent contemporary thinkers including Foucault, Baudrillard, Deleuze, and Habermas.  This project will aim to bring these drawings to life, and through Naficy’s voice, tell the story of not only his own education in the Western tradition, but also the evolution of ideas that have happened over this time.

Description of the RA position: The student will be integral to the project. Hamid Naficy has been drawing caricatures of prominent theorists and lecturers while he watches them speak for decades. We will be refining this archive of thousands of drawings down to about 100, then find ways that we can animate them to tell the story of the western university tradition, and underscore the relationship between theoretical discourses. We will eventually bring Naficy in for an audio interview about the selected drawings, storyboard the structure of the film, and hire animators to do the animation over next Summer. The student will be intimately involved in the research and creative construction of the film.

Position Expectations: Available for one or two students.  Student(s) are expected to work from 5-10 hours weekly, and meet deadlines for milestones in the project.  These milestone deadlines will be developed with the student academic responsibilities in mind.  Students should be self-starting, able to follow directions, and make conceptual and aesthetic decisions.  Students should additionally be open to direction and critique through this process.  The work that will be done on this project over the academic year will involve refining a list of pictures to work from, experimenting with animation techniques for the pictures, recording an interview of myself and Naficy (1-3 hour long sessions), editing the audio interview into the final film length, and creating a visual storyboard of the look of the film.  Late in the academic year, there will also be some work involved in hiring a crew of animators for the project.  It may be possible with the right candidate for this position to evolve into an assistant director position during the production of the film (Summer 2018).

Time Requirements: 5-10 hours per week.

Applicant Prerequisites: Students will need to have an understanding of the filmmaking process, and ideally, the animation process. I will be looking for students that have the ability to organize and think creatively, and to understand cultural and film theory. Drawing and production skills (film and/or animation), while not required, will be a big plus with candidates.  Adobe Creative Suite knowledge also preferred (After Effects, Photoshop, Premiere).


 

15)   Project title: Processing Fake News

           Faculty name: David Rapp

           School and Department: Learning Sciences and Psychology, School of Education and Social Policy

 

Faculty Bio: I have been conducting work on people's processing of fake news for the last 5 years, and including undergraduates in this work has been rewarding, and easily connects to their interests and concerns.

Project synopsis: This project will examine the consequences of presenting participants in a lab experiment with inaccurate information.  This may include giving participants false statements, problematic statements, and claims offered in videos with supporting evidence.  This will help determine not just what happens when people experience these materials, but also potentially suggest methods of helping people to become more critical consumers of information.

Description of the RA position: The student will be responsible for running participants, analyzing data, helping to write up results, and if interested, developing new projects. The student will also attend lab meetings and work closely with me and graduate student researchers.

Position Expectations: The student will be involved in running participants through lab protocols, collecting and organizing data, collating materials, transcribing data from surveys, interviews, and think-aloud protocols, and other related activities to support the research projects in the lab.  The expectation is that all assigned activities and tasks will be completed in a timely manner. 

Time Requirements: The position will include 5-10 hours per week of work, depending on the workload and activities to be completed in the lab. 

Applicant Prerequisites: It is preferred, but not required, that the student has taken a research methods course.  Familiarity with Word and Excel is preferred.

 

16)   Project title: Latino Politics and U.S. Demography

           Faculty name: Michael Rodríguez-Muñiz

          School and Department: Sociology, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

 

Faculty Bio: I am an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and the Latina and Latino Studies Program. I received my PhD in sociology from Brown University in 2015 and was awarded the 2016 American Sociological Association Dissertation Award. My research has been published in the American Journal of Sociology, American Journal of Cultural Sociology, Ethnography, Qualitative Sociology, and Engaging Science, Technology & Society.

Project synopsis: I am currently completing a book manuscript on contemporary national Latino civil rights advocacy and the politics of demography. Using several methods (archival, discourse analysis, ethnography, and in-depth interviewing) the book will shed light on the political production and mobilization of ethnoracial demographic narratives and numbers in contemporary U.S. politics.

Description of the RA position: This position seeks RAs to assist with data collection and preliminary analysis for a sociological research project. A major research task will involve collecting and reviewing data from online sources, such as governmental archives, organization websites, news outlets, and social media. The RAs may also review already collected documents and transcribe interviews and speeches given by civil rights leaders. Once the data is collected and reviewed, the RAs will write short summaries/memos that describe the content of these materials and their relevance for the broader project. This work will contribute to at least two major chapters of the book manuscript. 

Position Expectations: The RAs will gain an understanding of sociological research, from the generation of questions to the collection and analysis of data. Working collaboratively, we will think through the implications of the choices made in the course of data collection, such as the focus on particular organizations, topics, and questions. RAs will further develop an ability to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of particular types and pieces of data, as well as how to integrate diverse forms of data. Substantively, the position will provide assistants with a deeper and empirically informed understanding of Latino civil rights, past and present, and emergent politics over ethnoracial demographic change.

Time Requirements: The timeframe of the position is the 2018 Winter Quarter. An RA is expected to work 5-10 hours a week, up to 66 hours total. Students will be paid $15/hr.

Applicant Prerequisites:  I am looking for a hardworking and organized student that is bilingual (English/Spanish) and has completed freshman year and taken either 1) Intro to Latina/o Studies or 2) Sociological Inquiry. Students that meet these criteria and have a professed interest in some of the substantive themes of this research (media representation, Latino politics, race/ethnicity, demography) will be prioritized.

  

17)   Project title: Developing Coatings Similar to Natural Surfaces: Using Photopolymerizations to Engineer Biomimetic Interfaces

           Faculty name: Caroline Szczepanski

           School and Department: Chemical & Biological Engineering, McCormick School of Engineering

 

Faculty Bio: I am an Assistant Research Professor in the Chemical & Biological Engineering department of McCormick. My lab work is done in the laboratory of Prof. John Torkelson (also in Chemical & Biological Engineering), and therefore I interact very closely with him and his graduate students and lab affiliates. My research is focused on the design of polymeric materials for applications ranging from biological materials such as dental restoratives to coatings that can be employed for water harvesting applications. I recently began my position here at Northwestern (September 2017) and am excited to continue exploring unique methods and techniques to engineer polymeric materials. My research is motivated by questions such as: How do we design increasingly complex materials while employing strategies that are energy efficient? And, how do we create materials without long term environmental or health concerns?  I also take inspiration from natural surfaces and interfaces like rose petals and geckos feet to engineer new materials for large-scale applications that mimic their behaviors. The project that I propose for this student will focus on methods to modify biomimetic coatings (coatings with similar surface properties as those observed on natural surfaces such as leaves in nature).

Project synopsis:

Nature provides countless examples of surfaces with unique interfacial behaviors. From the lotus leaf, which strongly repels water, to the Namib desert beetle’s shell, which permits these creatures to attract and collect water necessary for survival in the most arid of climates, there are numerous examples of interfaces with unique or unexpected behaviors. Interfacial interactions are governed both by the chemical composition of a surface and also by micro- and nano-scale topographical surface features. This project aims to find methods in which we can engineer similar surfaces using techniques that are energy efficient and require mild chemicals. We will approach this project using a photopolymerization-based method, which is chosen since photopolymerizations are energy efficient and can easily be controlled in terms of space and time.

Our previous work indicates that shrinkage towards a substrate can be used as a driving force for the formation of rough, structured interfaces using photopolymerizations. With a particular model system we demonstrated the ability to exploit this behavior to form surface features similar to those observed on rose petals with similar interfacial character. This project will focus on identifying how substrate/polymer interactions can be used to influence the formation of coatings with micro- and nano-scale features using photopolymerizations. The researcher on this project, with the guidance of the faculty mentors, will design photopolymerized coatings based on methods previously described in literature, employing techniques to vary the degree of and also patterning of covalent linkage between the polymer and substrate. They will evaluate the difference in coating character (roughness, surface morphology, hydrophobicity) as a function of substrate modification, and use it to better understand the driving forces at play during the formation of surface features via photopolymerizations.

 

Description of the RA position: The student will be invited to attend weekly research group meetings (and will have the opportunity to present their work at such a meeting one time per quarter to get valuable feedback from graduate students, myself, and tenure track faculty). I will have regular meetings (every other week, 1 hour in length) with the student, in which they will present the progress they have made with their work, their insights as to what their results may indicate, bring up any questions they have based on the work so far, and then give them the opportunity to propose future directions for the project. At each meeting we will agree on specific tasks that should be completed before the next meeting. If a task cannot be completed, the next meeting should include discussion as to what was limiting that task so we can troubleshoot issues within the research project. The initial period of this project will focus on the student spending time familiarizing themselves with relevant background information, literature, and previous work from that serve as the motivation for this project.  From there, the primary role of the student will shift to mastering the relevant experimental techniques for this project (photopolymerization of polymers, modification of surfaces on which to apply coatings, characterizations of polymers and interfaces, etc.). During this phase of the project, I will be working side-by-side with the student to train them in specific techniques and general laboratory procedures. This period of the project will vary in length depending on the prior experience, if any, of the student. Once the appropriate techniques are mastered, the student will then begin to conduct independent experiments. For safety and guidance, I will make myself available during their time in the laboratory in case any unexpected issue arises but the overall goal is to have the student be able to independently manipulate and run experiments.

 

Position Expectations:

Safety: As the majority of the work will be done in a chemical laboratory, working hours must be communicated weekly to ensure that myself or another affiliate is always present in the laboratory in case any issues arise with the materials or the work being done. The student working on this project is expected to comply with all safety procedures associated with working in a chemical laboratory. Prior to gaining access to the laboratory, the student will be required to prove completion of relevant safety courses provided by the Northwestern Office of Research Safety (ORS). Any disregard of safety / laboratory regulations can lead to termination of the project.

Research Meetings: Regular meetings (every other week, 1 hour in length) will be coordinated with me. The student is expected to attend these meetings, and in the case where a conflict arises the student must inform mein advance by writing. The student should come prepared for each meeting with updates on work completed since the last meeting, or aspects of the project which they would like to discuss.

 

Time Requirements: Students are expected to work on average ~6-8 hours per week. The hours can be separated into different blocks throughout the week (e.g. 3 hours Monday, 2 hours Wednesday, 2 hours Friday). Blocks less than one hour are not suitable for this project, especially at the start of the research, as most training will take more than one hour to complete. The schedule can be modified throughout the project given that the schedule is communicated to and agreed upon in advance.

Applicant Prerequisites: Interested students must have record of successfully completing a laboratory-based chemistry course (i.e. General Chemistry or Organic Chemistry) at Northwestern or another institution. Students who have already completed or are currently enrolled in an organic chemistry course are encouraged to consider this project.

 

18)   Project title: Plant adaptation to climate change: a case study with Pitcher’s thistle, a Great Lakes Dune Endemic

           Faculty name: Patricia Vitt

           School and Department: Plant Biology and Conservation, WCAS

 

Faculty Bio: My research is focused on the reproductive ecology and population viability of rare and threatened plant species. I find population biology intriguing because it encompasses all aspects of plant performance, and involves the investigation of mechanisms that enhance or hinder that performance. Since the biology of each species is unique, and each population encounters a unique set of conditions, the quest to elucidate the biotic and abiotic mechanisms that affect performance across the geographic ranges of species is particularly important in this age of rapid environmental change and large scale human impacts on the landscape.

Project synopsis: Cirsium pitcheri (Pitcher’s thistle) is a federally listed-threatened monocarpic perennial plant that is endemic to the Great Lakes region. The species’ survival is dependent on successful seed production, seed dispersal in its wind-swept dune environment, as well as seed germination and seedling establishment. Populations of C. pitcheri are declining as a result of lake level fluctuations, habit conversion, and more recently, seed predation by a non-native weevil, Larinus planus. Further extensive habitat degradation is also expected to occur in the future, as temperatures are predicted to increase for the Chicago and Great Lakes region. The successful restoration and preservation of this threatened thistle is therefore dependent on a deeper understanding of its habitat, reproductive biology, and seedling ecology to ensure the success of evidence-based management in the future. We are investigating the effect of temperature, and site of origin on the germination success of C. pitcheri seeds. These tests will be conducted under current and future predicted climate conditions to investigate how climate change might differentially affect plant populations and determine whether there are any specific differences in the seeds’ germination probabilities that may impact the survival of the species in the future.

Description of the RA position: In the course of this project, the student will learn such fundamentals as measurement error, the differences between accuracy and precision, the fundamentals of probability and the application to statistical analysis. They will also learn about statistical power, and the limits of statistical inference. They will also learn basic data science skills such as how to enter and proof data in a spreadsheet and/or database, and otherwise how to store and manipulate data. Although a small dataset as of now, these skills are akin to those used for larger datasets, the foundation of Data Science.

Position Expectations: Student will work on a variety of tasks necessary for the success of this study. Each task will be assigned and appropriate training will be available. Students will be expected to work at least 5 hours a week, depending upon their schedule. Scheduling for work hours outside of training is flexible. Students will check in with me on arrival at the Plant Science Center, and again when they leave (this is for insurance and emergency reasons). My lab is located on the beautiful grounds of the Chicago Botanic Garden, so students will be required to commute by bus or train if they don’t have a car. Students are expected to communicate unanticipated changes in schedule. My lab groups meets on Friday mornings, and the student is very welcome to join. I will assign readings in the primary literature to provide background on the project, and will work with the student as they develop their interests to explore the literature further.

Time Requirements: 5-10 hours a week – Schedule is flexible, but should be able to check samples twice a week.

Applicant Prerequisites: I am open to all interested and curious students, regardless of their background. This particular project may be undertaken by someone with broad interests, even if they have no experience. Mostly, I will be looking to recruit someone who is curious, dedicated and open to learning new skills. I would be particularly interested in someone who is looking for a longer term mentee opportunity - one that might possibly lead to a senior project, posing similar or related questions.

 

19)   Project title: Plasticity of Memory Networks in Patients with Glioblastoma Multiforme

           Faculty name: Lei Wang

           School and Department: Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Feinberg

 

Faculty Bio: Dr. Wang is an associate professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Radiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He received his PhD in Engineering Sciences from Harvard University, followed by post-doctoral work with Dr. Michael Miller at Washington University in St. Louis, working on computational anatomy. He joined Northwestern University in 2008. Dr. Wang's research is focused on developing complex neuroimaging biomarkers through computational pipeline development, clinical application, preclinical animal model studies, and neuroinformatics. Dr. Wang's work bridges mathematics, engineering and clinical neuroscience. He uses computational anatomy tools on structural MRI, functional MRI and histological neuroimaging data to investigate neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and Alzheimer disease.

Project synopsis: This project uses clinical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to quantify brain plasticity in response to glioblastoma multiforme (GBM)—the most common and most aggressive primary brain tumor in adults. Up to 40% of GBM patients report memory loss, which is a significant burden on quality of life. To preserve memory, memory networks and contralesional gray matter likely compensate for tumor effects. Although we understand many aspects of memory in typical development, it is unknown how the brain structures responsible for memory (e.g. the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex) change over time in the presence of a dynamic brain lesion. Studies performed in other brain lesions (epilepsy, stroke) demonstrate contralateral structural and functional brain plasticity. The purpose of this study is to use longitudinal neuroimaging to investigate the changes in memory networks due to compensation in GBM patients. We will assess the inter-relationships between tumor size and contralesional hemisphere structure of the memory networks

Description of the RA position: On the clinical MRI data, the student RA will generate structural surface data and perform QA using brain mapping software packages that are freely available as well as ones that are developed in our lab. Surface data include subcortical structures such as the hippocampus. Cortical structures include all cortical parcellations such as regions within the prefrontal, temporal and parietal cortices as provided by FreeSurfer. RAs will perform association of brain structures with clinical measures using our surface deformation-based statistical software (written in Matlab). Relationship with clinical measures will be carried out in SPSS, SAS, or R. The student RA will work with the PI and technical staff in the lab, with help from other students. If timing works out, the student RA will be expected to attend and present research progress during weekly lab meetings. 

Position Expectations: Students are required to make presentation of their projects during weekly lab meetings, as well as participate in journal clubs. During school quarters, if time permits, students will also be encouraged to attend department grand rounds and other relevant seminars such as the weekly Northwestern Cognitive Brain Mapping Group Seminar, which is video-cast to attendees on both campuses on Wednesdays at noon.

Time Requirements: 5-10 hours/week

Applicant Prerequisites: Good GPA. Motivated. Independent. Preferred but not required: familiarity with linux/unix operating system, shell scripting, statistics.   

 

20)   Project title: Evaluation of a Hint Engine

Faculty name: Jason "Willie" Wilson

School and Department: Electrical Engineering/Computer Science, McCormick School of Engineering

 

Faculty Bio: Dr. Wilson is a new teaching postdoc, having recently completed his dissertation at Tufts University.   His research focuses on human-centric artificial intelligence, and much of his recent work has been in designing social agents to assist people in a variety of tasks.  He has also been an artificial intelligence researcher for Barnstorm Research, PARC, and BAE Systems, where he learned to apply practical software engineering skills required in industry to large-scale AI research programs.

Project synopsis:  The project involves the evaluation of a “Hint Engine” and consists of developing a platform for the evaluation, conducting a user evaluation, and reporting the results of the evaluation.  The Hint Engine is a component to be integrated with a social agent to enable the agent to estimate the amount of need and select an appropriate level of assistance for the agent to provide.  Social agents may include a robot assisting a person in sorting medications, a chatbot giving hints in a serious game, or an intelligent tutor providing instruction for computer programming.  In each of these agents, a key feature is enabling the agent to give variable levels of assistance that adapts to the needs of the person.

Description of the RA position: The student will be engaged in evaluating the Hint Engine. The student will work directly with Dr. Wilson on three phases of this project:

–      Phase 1: Development of evaluation platform (75 hours)

The goal of this phase is to develop the software platform for evaluating the Hint Engine.  The initial tasking will focus on developing a web-based platform.  To accomplish this, the student will develop a chat-based interface that connects with the Hint Engine on the back-end.

–      Phase 2: Conduct evaluation of Hint Engine (30 hours)

Once the platform has been developed, the student will assist in conducting the evaluation.  Tasks related to the evaluation include setting up an interface to Amazon's Mechanical Turk, developing secure and anonymous data logging features, and analyzing the collected data.

–      Phase 3: Reporting and presenting results (28.3 hours)

The final phase of the project is analyzing the results of the evaluation and preparing materials for publication.  Ideally, the student to take the lead in writing a paper to be submitted to a top conference.

 

Position Expectations: The student in this position is expected to lead the development of the evaluation platform and assist in conducting the evaluation.  The work in this project is expected to result in material to be published at a top conference. 

Time Requirements: The project will span 15-20 weeks, with the student working 6-10 hours per week.

Applicant Prerequisites:  The applicant must have some knowledge of web programming, including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.  Ideally, the applicant will also have some knowledge of web servers or web application frameworks.  Experience with Python is preferred, and an interest in human-computer interaction, game development, virtual agents, or cognitive science is encouraged. The applicant is expected to have no research experience and will be trained in all necessary research procedures.

 

21)   Project title: Understanding the social determinants of maternal and child health outcomes during pregnancies complicated by diabetes

          Faculty name: Lynn Yee

          School and Department: Obstetrics and Gynecology, Feinberg

 

Faculty Bio: Dr. Lynn Yee is as an Assistant Professor in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine. She provides clinical care in maternal-fetal medicine and is currently in the NICHD Women’s Reproductive Health Research (WRHR) Career Development Program at Northwestern. She has training in maternal health, behavioral health, research design and epidemiology through completion of an MPH. Her work addresses multiple areas of obstetrics-centered patient-centered outcomes research, with a particular interest in the intersections between health services, health disparities, and health behavior/patient education. She is pursuing clinical research in several areas, including diabetes during pregnancy, health literacy, health disparities, health behavior and decision making, patient navigation, perinatal HIV, and obesity/weight gain. Her central focus is on improving care for underserved pregnant women. Her primary WRHR investigation is on the development, implementation, and assessment of an advanced mobile health technology tool to improve diabetes self-management during pregnancy, and her related work focuses on understanding social determinants of outcomes in pregnancies complicated by diabetes.

Project synopsis: Dr. Yee is a clinical researcher focused on patient-centered research regarding health disparities and diabetes during pregnancy. Her focus is on understanding the multifaceted social and health services determinants of outcomes in obstetrics, and this project involves several avenues to better understand how to improve outcomes for women whose pregnancies are complicated by diabetes.

Description of the RA position: A student joining this project would help with several projects related to this topic, including:

- Studying the role of health literacy, food security and mindfulness on diabetes-related perinatal outcomes among pregnant women with diabetes, via an ongoing prospective survey study taking place in our department. In this study, the student would learn the clinic environment, meet staff, and identify eligible patients; he/she would then approach eligible patients, recruit them for the study, and complete surveys with the patients. The student would be critical to improving recruitment and gathering both patient report data and medical record data.

- Studying the role of health services utilization and diabetes-related perinatal outcomes, via assisting Dr. Yee with a medical record review to better understand how prenatal health care utilization is associated with women's pregnancy and diabetes-related outcomes. This study would involve working with Dr Yee to create a protocol and then abstract data from the electronic medical record. The student would be involved in data management, analysis, and interpretation, and would be a key author on the abstract and manuscript.

- Studying quality improvement strategies for pregnant women with diabetes, via a retrospective chart review of records to analyze fetal/neonatal outcomes of babies born to mothers with diabetes before and after a hospital-wide protocol was implemented to enhance glycemic control. This study will use implementation science techniques to understand how to apply best practices for women with diabetes, and the student will participate in protocol development and record review/analysis.

 

Position Expectations: Methodologically, the student will need to learn internal software (StudyTracker, IRB) and REDCap; potential education in statistical software could be relevant depending on interest.

Time Requirements: The student will work 5-10 hours/week on the various projects, with the option for flexibility depending on progress and other commitments.

Applicant Prerequisites:

This role is well suited to a student with an interest in women’s health and health disparities who has excellent interpersonal communication skills, is highly organized, and can work independently with guidance. The ideal student will have an interest in medicine or public health and will be committed to seeing a project from initiation to fruition. The ideal student will also have the ability to come to the Feinberg campus for meetings and/or recruitment, but may also be able to work remotely on data abstraction tasks. Students of any year are eligible, however students must demonstrate a commitment to learning the tasks required for clinical research and should expect projects to take the full academic year. Students interested in the role will be asked to meet with Dr. Yee and/or one of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine fellows at in-person interview at Prentice Women’s Hospital, and will be evaluated based on level of interest and commitment to the projects. Prior experience with clinical data, patient-based clinical research, or other aspects of clinical research are beneficial but not required.

 

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