Hiring for Open Undergraduate Research Assistant Positions!!
($15/hour during Summer)
Student applications for Academic Year positions open on May 14, 2018. The deadline for applications will be May 28, 2018. Faculty members are expected to make decisions by June 4, 2018, and students will need to turn in their payroll paperwork to the Office of Undergraduate Research before end of Spring quarter.
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 Summer URAPs is $3,500, this comes to ~233 hours, to be worked between the time the student is entered in the Kronos payroll system and August 24, 2018. Some positions may split the hours between two students. If you are interested in more than one position, you may separately apply to each one, but it is expected that your cover letter will be tailored to each position.
Below, you will find:
- Application Instructions
- Expectations on Cover Letter and Resume Submission
- Link to Application Site
- List of Open Positions
- Detailed Descriptions of all Open Positions
- 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 5/28/18.
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.
- Please keep both documents to a maximum of 1 page
- Save documents as PDFs prior to submission
- Minimum 11 point font
- 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.
(scroll down for full descriptions or click on project title)
1) Project title: Global discourse in contemporary art
Faculty name: Larissa Buchholz
School and Department: communication studies, school of communications
2) Project title: open tv
Faculty name: AJ Christian
School and Department: RTVF, School of communications
3) Project title: russian studies & comparative politics
Faculty name: jordan gans-morse
School and Department: political science, weinberg
4) Project title: rehabilitation robotics to enhance walking balance
Faculty name: keith gordon
School and Department: Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine
5) Project title: Emotion in relationships
Faculty name: claudia haase
School and Department: Psychology, School of Education and Social Policy
6) Project title: freedom gates project liberia, 1990-2018
Faculty name: richard joseph
School and Department: political science, weinberg
7) Project title: international politics of rebellion
Faculty name: morgan kaplan
School and Department: buffet institute for global studies
8) Project title: meta-analysis on business interventions
Faculty name: Dean Karlan
School and Department: economics and finance
9) Project title: Children and voice interfaces
Faculty name: alexis lauricella
School and Department: communication studies, school of communication
10) Project title: the impact of medical licensing
Faculty name: BETH REDBIRD
School and Department: sOCIOLOGY, WEINBERG
11) Project title: COMPARATIVE STUDY OF SCHOOL SYSTEMS
Faculty name: JAMES SPILLANE
School and Department: SCHOOL OF EDUCATION AND SOCIAL POLICY
12) Project title: STORY TELLING AND MEANING MAKING
Faculty name: CLAIRE SUFRIN
School and Department: JEWISH STUDIES
Faculty name: CHLOE THURSTON
School and Department: POLITICAL SCIENCE
Faculty name: aDRIANA WEISLEDER
School and Department: COMMUNICATION SCIENCES AND DISORDERS
15) Project title: COMPUTATIONAL MODEL OF GAZE
Faculty name: WILLIE WILSON
School and Department: ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AND COMPUTER SCIENCE, mCCORMICK
Project title: Global Discourse in Contemporary Art
Faculty name: Larissa Buchholz
School and Department: Communication Studies
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 global context. 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 broader research project engages with the rise of global discourse in the contemporary visual arts. Since the 1980s, the field of the contemporary visual arts has witnessed strong globalization impulses. These dynamics involved the extension of institutional circuits for artistic exchange to a global scale, with globally recruited artists, worldwide acting “star curators,” and contemporary art biennials and art museums spread around the globe. Nonetheless, while scholarship has begun to map these important global transformations at the organizational level, we still lack a systematic understanding of how these changes have affected the art field at the level of discourse, too. Did the globalization of public art institutions and rise of global art circuits occur alongside the rise of new global discourses? Can we observe the rise of global imaginations and meanings in the contemporary visual arts? This URAP project is intended as a smaller sub-project within this broader project. Accordingly, we will focus on the examination of discourse in one particular art journal. In this regard, I seek to involve two students in the tracking and analysis of global discourse in Artforum, which is a leading journal for contemporary art, and whose journal issues are accessible online back to the 1980s.
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 mini-project of the collecting and coding of discourse materials as well as the summary of the findings.
Time Requirements: The project will start in June and the average weekly working hours would be around 15 hours per team member. Each student will work around 116 hours spread across the summer weeks. We can arrange time flexibly, e.g. regarding internships or vacation. Overall, each student
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.
Faculty name: Aymar Christian
School and Department: Communication Studies/RTVF, 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: The "Open TV" project seeks students interested in television data, distribution, marketing, and diversity. Students will assist with production, development or online exhibition of OTV | Open Television. OTV | Open Television releases short-form, independently produced, intersectional pilots and series from Chicago artists. All data from development goes toward research on development and intersectionality.. Debuting in 2015, OTV has released 31 original pilots, shorts, and series, all but one originating from a Chicago artist who identites with two more communities marginalized by their race, gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, disability, citizenship status, or religion. OTV programs have attracted thousands of people in Chicago in screenings across the city and country and 1 million plays on Vimeo. Our artists have received the city of Chicago’s Filmmaker Residency; nominations for Emmy, Gotham, Streamy and other Awards; development deals with HBO and Red Arrow Entertainment; and critical praise from Time, VICE, New York Times, AV Club, Elle, and dozens of local or community-focused blogs and publications.
Description of the RA position: Production in this project spans pre-production or production planning, production execution, and post-production or editing. 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. Online exhibition involves data analysis across social media and transcribing/subtitling videos. For data analysis, knowledge of statistics and network analysis is helpful but not necessary. Development involves working with artists and institutional partners to secure new programs; this process informs students of how cultural production functions, how distributors seek value from art. To evaluate students, I will look at resumes to see if there is demonstrated interest in production, development, or online exhibition/marketing. I will conduct interviews to further gauge their level of commitment to learning. I will recruit students by reaching out to relevant faculty in Communication Studies or RTVF and sending the ad on undergrad listserves (departmental and student groups)
Position Expectations: This project is hands-on, giving students the opportunity to shape creative projects and get credit for it. 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: ~20 hours of work/week
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 ben 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.
Faculty name: Keith Gordon, PhD
School and Department: Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine
Faculty Bio: Keith Gordon, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences. Dr. Gordon is the Director of the Human Agility Laboratory. Dr. Gordon's research focus is to 1) Understand the principles governing the neural control of human locomotion and 2) Enhance walking ability following neuromuscular injury.
Project synopsis: This project will provide a valuable learning opportunity for students interested in human-robot interactions and rehabilitation-robotics applications. Students will gain hands-on experience working with a custom rehabilitation robotic device called the Agility Trainer. The Agility Trainer is a cable-robot designed to challenge human balance during treadmill walking. The project will involve designing and building an electrical connections panel for Agility Trainer. The student will also operate the robot during experiments evaluating walking balance in people recovering from spinal cord injury.
Description of the RA position: The project will involve designing and building an electrical connections panel for Agility Trainer. This will include creating technical drawings and electrical schematics, and then installing the connections panel and routing and soldering all the appropriate connections. The student will also operate the Agility Trainer during experiments. In addition, the student will learn to use other lab equipment such as the 12 camera, 3D motion-tracking system used to recorded lower body movements. Finally, the student will be ask to attend and participate in to our weekly lab meetings.
Position Expectations: The student is expected to contribute to the research mission of the laboratory. We expect students to be actively engaged in research, to participate in laboratory meetings, to be able to communicate effectively, and to document their work. The student must be a positive team member, be able to work independently, and be interested in improving as a researcher.
Time Requirements: 25 hours/week for 10 weeks during the summer. There will be opportunities to continue working with the laboratory beyond the summer.
Applicant Prerequisites: The ideal candidate will have career interests related to:
- biomechanical analysis of human movement
- human-robot interactions
- robotics control
Candidates will most likely be majoring in electrical, mechanical, or biomedicial engineering, computer science, or physics. Previous experience building electronic circuits, soldering, using electronic bench testing equipment, and ability to use Matlab and/or LabVIEW is be highly valued. Previous research experience is not required for this position.
Faculty name: Claudia Haase
School and Department: Psychology, School of Education and Social Policy
Faculty Bio: Claudia Haase is a developmental psychologist who studies how individuals and couples develop across the life span focusing on the role of emotion, motivation, and well-being.
Project synopsis: The main focus of our research centers around emotion in relationships. We are currently running two studies (i.e., one on emotions in married couples; one on emotions in parents and adolescents). We are studying emotion in relationships using a laboratory-based approach (e.g., by having married couples and parent-adolescent dyads 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 our two relationships studies along with learning about other ongoing studies in the lab. Specifically, RAs will review relevant academic literature on emotion, relationships, psychophysiology, and well-being. They have a significant role in the data collection of this study—they help recruit and schedule participants 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 dyads are having. They also get exposure processing the physiological data. Finally, they participate in weekly lab meetings and regular individual meetings with the PI.
Position Expectations: Our research assistants are given many responsibilities in our research studies. Because of this, we expect them to arrive on-time, be detail-oriented, and learn about the entire research process (i.e., from recruiting participants to analyzing the results).
Time Requirements: 28 hours per week for 8 weeks during the summer. Flexible to travel plans/vacation.
Applicant Prerequisites: We are looking for freshman and sophomore students new to research and who are interested in the study of emotion, psychophysiology, relationships, and developmental psychology.
Faculty name: Richard Joseph
School and Department: Political Science
Faculty Bio: Richard Joseph is John Evans Professor of International History and Politics of Northwestern University. Previous appointments include the University of Ibadan (Nigeria), Dartmouth College, and Emory University. He has taught and published extensively on state, democracy, governance, and development in Africa. His publications include Radical Nationalism in Cameroun (1977), Democracy and Prebendal Politics in Nigeria (1987), and edited books, Gaullist Africa: Cameroon under Ahmadu Ahidjo (1978), State, Conflict, and Democracy in Africa (1999), and Smart Aid for African Development (2008). The Nigerian Crucible, an online volume of his many essays on Nigeria, and other commentaries are available at https://arch.library.northwestern.edu/catalog?search_field=all_fields&q=richard+joseph. He is currently creating a Freedom Gates Project centered on peace and democracy initiatives of The Carter Center, where he served as a Fellow, 1988-1994, and a Network for the Study of Developmental Governance.
Project synopsis: Liberia experienced “complicating violence” after an armed insurgency, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), invaded the country in December 1989. In mid-1990, a long and complex process involving external organizations sought to restore peace and stability and an elected system of government. A major role in these developments was played by The Carter Center under the leadership of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Prof. Joseph, a former Fellow of the Center, started the Freedom Gates Project in 2017. Participating student researchers are given access to his primary archives and other documents. They work closely with Prof. Joseph in studying initiatives to build peace and democracy in challenging contexts in Africa.
Description of the RA position: The tasks to be performed include the following: working on a book project; further development of existing archives and their harmonizing with Carter Center documents; expanding the research network; building an online platform for further collaborative work; liaising with Carter Center officers, researchers, and interns; completing texts for posting on Arch library; and taking part in oral and in-person interviews.
Position Expectations: The student will take part in a process of “immersive learning”. He/She will be briefed by current RAs and learn and refine the archival system. Along with learning from primary documents and interviews, they will expand their knowledge of African politics through close interaction with Prof. Joseph and his colleagues. There will be ample opportunities to improve writing and analytical skills. The project allows for extensive innovation and initiative, especially in the use and elaboration of communication technologies. The ability to work collaboratively is essential.
Time Requirements: The student will work for approximately 30 hours per week for a total of 233 hours and will earn $3,500.
Applicant Prerequisites: The student will have taken social science courses and demonstrated strong writing skills. The study of political science is desirable but not required. Good computing skills are expected and graphic talents are helpful.
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 editorial work for the book project and related article-length 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 for 1 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 anddifficulties 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 60 total hours over the course of the employment period, with a potential maximum of 83 hours. Students are expected to work between 5-12 hours each week.
Applicant Prerequisites: I plan to hire one undergraduate student from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences who has 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.
Faculty name: Dean Karlan
School and Department: Economics and Finance
Faculty Bio: Dean Karlan is a Buffett Institute Faculty Fellow and the Nemmers Distinguished Professor of Economics and Finance at the Kellogg School of Management. His research focuses on microeconomic issues of poverty, typically employing experimental methodologies and behavioral economics insights to examine which types of social policies and interventions are most effective.
Most of his work is in developing countries and typically examines efforts to improve financial inclusion for the poor, sustainable income generation for those in poverty, household and entrepreneurial finance, health behavior, and charitable giving. He is the co-director of the Global Poverty Research Lab (GPRL) at Northwestern University, and the founder of Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). IPA is a research and policy nonprofit that discovers and promotes effective solutions to global poverty problems. IPA brings together researchers and decision-makers to design, rigorously evaluate, and refine these solutions and their applications, ensuring that the evidence created is used to improve the lives of the world’s poor.
Project synopsis: The project that the student would work on is to conduct a meta-analysis of data from several RCTs around the world that evaluate interventions targeted towards changing business outcomes – profits, revenue etc. The evidence on effectiveness of programs that target enterprises and encourage entrepreneurial activities (training programs, cash transfers, etc.) is not consistent across studies and countries. The researchers are seeking to understand how well these types of interventions work using pooled data to improve statistical power and point estimates of the treatment effects. This project is part of recent initiatives at the GPRL to gain insight into the effectiveness of social interventions spanning different sectors and geographical regions. (Cluster based approach)
Description of the RA position: The meta-analysis will rely on multiple studies that evaluate interventions that seek to increase entrepreneurial activities by 4 different means: business trainings, cash transfers, credit and multifaceted interventions. The student will work closely with Dean Karlan, other Principal Investigators, and other research staff on the project (Research Manager, Research Coordinator and Research Analysts). The tasks that the student will perform will focus on 4 different areas:
1)Search and selection of existing studies
The student will perform literature reviews, as a first step for selecting the studies that will be included in the meta-analysis. The student will also have to implement a rigorous search on different online platforms, using different key words, to ensure the projects are selected according to given criteria. Learning to use appropriate management tools and proper documentation techniques will be essential for this set of tasks.
2) Results replication
The student will revise the data and code for the selected studies to ensure that the results can be replicated using the materials that are publicly available. In order to complete the tasks in this area, the student will have to work on his stata and coding skills, learning new commands and different empirical strategies. The Research Analyst and Research Coordinator will be working closely with the student to make sure they has the resources available to achieve these goals and develop their technical skills.
3) Variable codebook and data pooling
The student will collaborate with the Research Analyst on creating a variable codebook for the list of studies included in the analysis. This document will include information such as variable names, variable construction, main outcomes of interest, and sample characteristics. Once the codebook and the proper documentation is set up, the student will also assist the research analyst in designing a system to append together the data for all the selected studies in a way that is comparable across outcomes and common sets of variables.
Data cleaning and assistance during analysis
The student will perform tasks such as data cleaning and assist the Research Analyst using statistical and econometric tools to construct different indicators and create tables with results.
Position Expectations: The student will to work closely with other research staff at the lab to accomplish the project’s goals and to develop the following skills: project and data management, data analysis and coding, knowledge of the literature related to the project’s research question. In order to do so, the student will have access to research resources created by the GPRL’s research staff and IPA. The student will interact daily with full time research staff at the GPRL (i.e., Research Analysts, Research Coordinators, and Research Managers) who continuously collaborate on developing new systems, tools and best practices to improve the quality of the work at the Lab. This will ensure that the student will be able to develop his skills and excel at his role. The student will meet with the Research Coordinator on a weekly basis to review the status of the project and answer any questions they might have. This position is a great opportunity for a student who is looking to gain insight into how rigorous social science research is conducted and how to manage big sets of data in order to conduct high quality analyses.
Time Requirements: The student will work on the project for 233 hours over the course of 8 weeks during the months of June, July, August, with some flexibility on the start and end date. The hours will be divided into 7 weeks of 30 hrs/week and 1 week of 23 hrs/week - working 4 or 5 days a week. We will discuss the student’s availability to determine the amount of hours worked each day, in a given week. However, the student should be available to work from the GPRL offices located in Scott Hall during their work hours.
Applicant Prerequisites: The ideal candidate will have a strong interest in learning about empirical research in development economics and some knowledge of statistics, econometrics and basic data analysis tools. Experience using Stata or other statistical software is a strong plus. Having attention to detail, strong organizational skills, being self-motivated, and a team player will be essential for doing well in this position.
Faculty name: Alexis Lauricella
School and Department: Communication Studies, School of Communication
Faculty Bio: Alexis R. Lauricella is Associate Director of the Center on Media and Human Development working with Dr. Ellen Wartella at Northwestern University and a lecturer in the Communication Studies Department. Dr. Lauricella earned her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology and her Master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University. Her research focuses on children’s learning from media, parents’ and teachers’ attitudes toward and use of media with young children, and the effects of food marketing on obesity and health. Recent publications include empirical research articles in , Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, , and reports for the Fred Rogers Center and the Center on Media and Human Development.
Project synopsis: Almost all American children now live in homes with electronic devices that are connected to the Internet and that feature voice interfaces, both in the form of voice input functions in search fields and in the form of voice agents (like Siri, Alexa and the Google Assistant). Children have been found to be prolific questions-askers and to use questioning as a mechanism in their cognitive development. Our project is studying how children use voice interfaces, especially the Google Assistant, to find information they are curious about. In order to understand this use, we visit families, interview parents and children and observe their use of these interfaces.
Description of the RA position: The student will be assisting with data collection (home visits; interviews) and analysis (transcribing and coding interview data). The student will be encouraged to identify his or her own research questions to answer from the available data. Once a question has been identified, we will work with the student on how to complete their own research project, resulting in a presentation or poster at the end of the summer.
Position Expectations: The student will be expected to complete CITI training, to be timely to lab work hours and home visits, to follow directions closely and to participate in project and lab meetings.
Time Requirements: 15-30 hours per week.
Applicant Prerequisites: While we welcome students from most majors/fields, we prefer students with a strong/demonstrated interest in child development, cognition, learning, media & technology and related areas. We can teach them the research skills needed for the project.
Faculty name: Beth Redbird
School and Department: Sociology
Faculty Bio: I am an assistant professor at Northwestern University. I study the impact of group structure on inequality. My primary research interests are: Racial Inequality (particularly Native American inequality); Group Interactions; Occupations and Work; Social Class; and Survey Methodology. In particular, I study labor market rent, with a special focus on the implications of rent and other forms of closure for inequality. I am also a fellow with the Institute for Policy Research and the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research. I received my PhD from Stanford in 2016.
Project synopsis: This project examines the effect of occupational regulation, specifically licensing, on quality of medical care, access to medical care, and mortality rates. Because the data for the project contains personal medical data, the data must be analyzed in a secure data facility. This means that prior to analysis all other data cleaning processes must be completed without access to the actual data. Using a secure data facility is costly and thus it is important that all analyses be tested prior to implementation on actual data. The student will be responsible for creation of a simulated data set, cleaning a simulated data set, and testing code to ensure that the proposed methodology works prior to entering the secure data facility. In addition the student will participate in a research group composed of myself, Professor Christine Percheski, an doctoral student (who already works on the project), and another undergraduate student (funded by the other faculty). Together the two undergraduate students will work on data cleaning and project management. In addition they will work with the larger research group on the construction, design, and analysis of simulated data. The entire research group will meet at least once a week to discuss the design of the research, as well as to provide mentorship for all three students around the process of policy research.
Both undergraduate students will begin with a two-week-long training on using the statistical software program. This training will be taught by the graduate student who is a member of the research group. The participating graduate student will be responsible for training the two undergrads in the use of statistical computing software and basic statistical education. The graduate student has experienced tutoring statistics and will gain experience teaching and mentoring. In addition the faculty member
primarily responsible for this undergraduate (Beth Redbird) will spend at least 30 minutes daily with the student on understanding the process of social and policy research
Description of the RA position: Students will get the opportunity to engage in research design from the beginning of a project. The project will also involve some interviewing and analysis of government data bases.
Position Expectations: Students will work with a team of undergraduates.
Time Requirements: Students will work between 20-30 hours per week though out the summer (depending on student preference).
Applicant Prerequisites: The idea candidate would have interest in public health, social policy, or race in the U.S.
Faculty name: James Spillane
School and Department: School of Education and Social Policy
Faculty Bio: I am the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Professor in Learning and Organizational Change at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. I am also a Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, Professor of Learning Sciences, and faculty associate at Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research. I have published extensively on issues of education policy, policy implementation, school reform, and school leadership. My work explores the policy implementation process at the state, district, school, and classroom levels, focusing on intergovernmental and policy-practice relations. My work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Institute of Education Sciences, Spencer Foundation, Sherwood Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York. Many of these studies have involved mixed-methods research.
Project synopsis: Funded by the Spencer Foundation, the Spencer Systems Study is a collaboration with Don Peurach and David Cohen at University of Michigan. School systems building has become central to educational reform in the US. As reformers and policymakers envision systems as powerful sources of instructional improvement a critical question is: How do school systems define, design, manage, and improve instruction? We research how six school systems define, design, and manage instruction and instructional improvement. We want to learn about how systems interact with and affect instruction, maintain instructional quality, and enable instructional improvement. We do this by interviewing school system leaders and school leaders, observing meetings and classrooms, and collecting pertinent documents to the school and school district. We analyze and qualitatively code all of these documents using NVivo, a qualitative coding software.
Description of the RA position: The student will assist with coding transcribed interviews in NVivo and document categorization using Excel that we have conducted and collected during the past year. The student will be trained in using NVivo, so no coding experience is required. The student will have the opportunity to be part of a coding process from beginning to end and be a part of applying a new coding manual to interviews that haven’t been coded before. Further, they’ll be able present any suggestions the research team should make to the coding manual for future coding and analysis. They will be able to see what works, and what may not work, and learn about designing research methods themselves through this process. Most of the work will be done individually, but the student will also collaborate with the study’s postdocs, research project coordinator, and one other undergraduate RA in order to establish interrater reliability and for regular checkups. The student may also work on other tasks related to the study as they come up. Though the student’s work will mostly be in NVivo or Excel, we will expect some written work. This will include memos on the process of coding, and any addendums they suggest for future coding or analysis.
Position Expectations: Student will be expected to virtually attend a weekly team meeting with other PIs, faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students inside and outside of Northwestern, for the project using the BlueJeans program from 10:00am-11:00am every Monday. They will also be expected to check in on their progress once a week with the project postdoctoral fellow (Jennifer Seelig) and/or Research Project Coordinator (Melissa Ortiz). In order to complete the various tasks listed above, the student will access software through the Northwestern remote server in our lab space in Annenberg.
Time Requirements: We expect the student to work approximately 25 hours per week. This position starts June 25th and ends August 24th (9 weeks). We can be somewhat flexible with this if the student wants to start earlier/later or has vacation planned, as long as this is communicated beforehand.
Applicant Prerequisites: We are looking for students who are reliable, organized, detail oriented, and able to work independently and as part of a team. We seek a student who is able to communicate any questions they might have, take ownership of their contributions to the study, and work diligently towards project deadlines. The student should be curious about qualitative research and educational systems.
Faculty name: Claire Sufrin
School and Department: Jewish Studies
Faculty Bio: Dr. Claire Sufrin is a scholar of religion specializing in modern Jewish thought and theology. Her research and teaching focus on modern interpretations of the Bible, the intersection of religion and literature, and gender and religion. She has published articles in a variety of journals and edited volumes and presents regularly at academic conferences.
Dr. Sufrin is Associate Professor of Instruction and Assistant Director of Jewish Studies in the Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Religious Studies. Dr. Sufrin holds a BA in Religious Studies from Yale University and a PhD in Religious Studies from Stanford University.
Project synopsis: My research project, “Storytelling and Meaning-Making: Jewish Literature and Jewish Thought in America” is an examination of theological themes in novels by American-Jewish authors written over the last 60 years. Beyond analyzing the literature itself, I seek to bring the these works into conversation with Jewish theologians interested in similar themes. The larger argument of the book is that novelists can be more daring theologically because they embed their arguments in narrative and in a variety literary techniques and styles. My focus is not on typical theological ideas (e.g. God) but the Holocaust and the State of Israel and how these might redefine what it means to be Jewish.
Description of the RA position: The RA for this project will collect and analyze/summarize reviews and scholarly articles of the books I am analyzing for my project. In addition, I ask my RA to read the novels I am working on and to help me think through my ideas. In addition, there may be opportunities to work on another book project, The New Jewish Canon, an anthology I am co-editing with a colleague. This project is entering its final stages; the primary task would be editing the work of multiple authors.
Position Expectations: The RA will be expected to find, read, and summarize scholarly material using databases such as RAMBI and EBSCO. I will provide training in both of these and other tools. The scholarly material may be difficult, but I will provide training in strategies for reading and analyzing it. I will similarly provide guidance in writing summaries of this material.
Time Requirements: The RA will have flexibility to structure her hours as she needs; I am expecting about 20 hours of work per week but much of that will be online and can be done remotely. The RA will need to have access to the library. I will meet with the RA twice a week during the day and will be available for guidance via email at other times.
Applicant Prerequisites: The ideal candidate will have taken at least one literature course. Coursework in Jewish Studies and/or Religious Studies is preferred but not necessary. The most important prerequisites are curiosity, strong reading skills and strong writing skills.
Faculty name: Chloe Thurston
School and Department: Political Science
Faculty Bio: Professor Thurston’s primary research interests are in the interplay of markets, social policy, and politics in twentieth and twenty- first century American political development, with a secondary focus on the role of political parties, organized interests, and social movements in the policy process.
Project synopsis: “Politicians, Political Parties, and Prohibition” is part of a larger project to understand how political parties in the U.S. come to adopt distinctive versus cross-cutting positions on issues such as abortion, the environment, and (in a much earlier time) prohibition. This project will address several questions: what factors explain legislators’ voting choices when issues are new to the agenda? And why do some issues move from cross-cutting to partisan over time, while others remain cross-cutting? The Summer URAP student’s primary role in this project would be to assist with data collection and some analysis to help us understand the evolution of legislative voting on prohibition-related issues in New York state in the early twentieth century.
Description of the RA position: 1-2 RAs are sought to help compile a historical dataset of votes involving alcohol prohibition in the New York state legislator in the early twentieth century. They will examine a variety of historical records to track down information on when this issue came up for a vote, as well as on the characteristics of individual legislators in the NY State legislature at the time. Finally, and time permitting, they will help us to identify which interest groups may have mobilized for or against issues of prohibition over time. The student(s) may be asked to help us locate archives and historical sources for the continued exploration of the activities of interest groups on these issues. (This may expand to an additional state depending on the amount of time it takes to construct the New York dataset.)
Position Expectations: See the description above. In addition, the RA will be expected to check in regularly on the progress of the project. The job itself requires impeccable attention to detail and organizational skills because the data are likely to come from a wide range of historical sources.
Time Requirements: The student will be expected to work 10-23 hours per week over the course of 10 weeks, depending on whether 1-2 students are hired.
Applicant Prerequisites: Students should have an interest in political science, public policy, and/or history. No previous experience conducting historical research or creating data sets is required, though the student will need to become familiar with Microsoft Excel and also data organization and management through the course of the project. Students should be comfortable with contacting librarians and archivists for assistance in locating records.
Faculty name: Adriana Weisleder
School and Department: Communication Sciences and Disorders
Faculty Bio: Dr. Weisleder’s research investigates early language development and processing in young children from diverse linguistic and socioeconomic backgrounds, with a focus on dual language learners. She uses multiple methodologies – including eye-tracking, naturalistic recordings, and clinical trials of interventions – to investigate both the learning mechanisms and contexts that support language development in infants and toddlers. She also collaborates on the development of family and community-based approaches for reducing poverty-related disparities in children’s developmental and educational outcomes.
Project synopsis: The Child Language Lab studies language development in children from diverse backgrounds, with a focus on Spanish-English bilingual children. Research projects in the lab investigate the relation between early language experiences, language processing, and vocabulary development. Summer RAs will be involved in a study of “Leyendo Juntos”, a pediatric-based literacy promotion program for Latino families with young children. The goals of this project are to: 1) Assess whether Leyendo Juntos increases pediatric providers’ knowledge and implementation of culturally responsive practice in literacy promotion with Latino families, and 2) Assess whether Leyendo Juntos enhances parent-child language and reading interactions and child vocabulary development in Latino families with young children.
Description of the RA position: The research assistant will be part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners in psychology, pediatrics, and communication sciences and disorders. They will gain hands-on experience in participant recruitment and scheduling, behavioral assessments of parents and young children, behavioral coding of parent-child interactions, and development of research protocols and procedures. They will also have the opportunity to contribute to the design of materials for literacy interventions with young children. The RA will participate in group meetings and journal clubs and will have the opportunity to learn about a variety of research methods, including infant eyetracking, naturalistic language sampling, and data analysis. Studies in the Child Language Lab include families that speak English and Spanish. Thus, proficiency in English and Spanish is preferred.
Position Expectations: As an RA in the Child Language Lab you will be expected to assist with multiple project tasks. You will work under the supervision of the project coordinator and will be expected to respond flexibly to project needs. You will have the opportunity to conduct research at pediatric clinics in the Chicago area, requiring you to interact with pediatric providers and with parents and young children from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. You will be expected to keep organized records, maintain strong communication with the project team, be reliable and punctual, and follow lab protocols and guidelines.
Time Requirements: The RA will be expected to work 30-40 hours per week and to complete 233 hours of work by August 24, 2018. The exact start date and work schedule will be discussed with the PI.
Applicant Prerequisites: The ideal candidate will be independent, energetic, enthusiastic about interacting with young children and families, and have strong organizational skills. Qualifications include:
Effective communication skills and ability to interact well with study participants
Experience and continued interest in working with children and families
Strong organizational skills
Reliable and punctual
Flexibility in adjusting to project demands
Fluency in Spanish and English is preferred
Willingness to travel to different locations in the Chicago area
Faculty name: Jason Wilson
School and Department: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Faculty Bio: Jason R. Wilson is a teaching postdoc completing my first year at Northwestern. Last year, he completed my dissertation at Tufts University, where much of his work involved investigating how to have an artificial agent provide variable levels of assistance. In his thesis work, he applied this to having a robot assist a person with Parkinson's disease in sorting medications. A key component to having a robot (or other aritificial agents) know when to provide assistance is accurately detecting that a person has a need for assistance. One informative cue is whether the person looks at the robot. The goal of this project is to formalize this relationship between direction of gaze and need for assistance.
Project synopsis: Where a person looks can be a strong indicator as to where and how a person wants to engage. For example, when a student has a question, that student will most likely look at the person to whom the student will be asking the question. The recipient of the question may be able to anticipate that there is a question simply by noticing the change in direction of the person’s gaze. Eye gaze is a form of non-verbal communication that can carry many different signals, and this project seeks to better define the relationship between eye gaze and a person’s need for assistance. To accomplish this, we will be building a computational model of eye gaze based upon data previously collected. The goal of the model is to be a reliable predictor that a person is seeking to get assistance or feedback. By integrating the computational model into a system that provides assistance, the assistive technology will be more adaptive to the human’s needs and result in a more helpful and useful technology.
Description of the RA position: The student will be engaged in developing, implementing, and evaluating a computational model of human eye gaze. In previous work, I designed a social robot to provide assistance in a medication sorting task, and one cue the robot used to indicate whether the person needs assistance or feedback in the task was whether the person looked at the robot. This seemed to be a highly informative cue, but I have not been able to quantify how informative and consistent the direction of the gaze can be used as a cue. The goal of this project is to develop a computational model of gaze so that we can quantify the utility of using gaze as a cue and then test how well this cue generalizes to other tasks and environments. The project encompasses three phases: video coding, model development, and model evaluation.
Video Coding: The first step of the project is to code videos -- annotating when the person’s gaze is used to indicate need for assistance or feedback. From previous work, I have approximately 30 videos of people interacting with a robot while completing a medication sorting task.
Develop model: Based on the data collected in phase 1 (Video Coding), the next step is to develop a computational model that represents the phenomena demonstrated in the videos. The intent of this model is for it to predict whether a person is seeking assistance based on the direction of the person’s gaze. As part of the development, the model will be integrated into existing systems that need to estimate how much need for assistance a person has. One such system is the Hint Engine, which I am currently evaluating with the assistance of an undergraduate research assistant.
Model evaluation: By integrating the model into an existing system, we can use that system as a framework by which we can evaluate the model on new tasks and in new environments. One task I am considering to use for evaluation is an interactive dialogue for creating new calendar events. In this task, the person talks to the computer to create a new event. I anticipate that when the person does not know what step to take next in creating the event, the person will look at an on-screen avatar to seek feedback or assistance.
After evaluating the model, I would like to report our findings in a conference publication. Two ideal venues for this work are a conference for human-computer interaction (CHI) and a conference for multi-modal interaction (ICMI).
Position Expectations: The student will be expected to be able to execute on a broad range of tasks. This includes coding videos, reading scholarly articles, analyzing data, writing code, and communicating results. The student is not expected to be an expert in any or all of these skills but must be eager to learn how to develop the necessary skills. The student will receive training and mentoring for each assigned task, and as such, the student will be expected to be available to meet regularly and be able to work on campus on a regular basis. One goal of the mentoring is to help the student learn to be able to work independently while always recognizing when and where to ask for assistance.
Time Requirements: This project will fund one student to work for approximately 30 hours/week for 8 weeks, for a total of 233 hours of work this summer. Most of this work should take place during the months of July and August.
Applicant Prerequisites: The student will be engaged in developing a computational model of eye gaze and will to need demonstrate experience in some of the skills necessary for building such a model. These skills include statistics, cognitive modeling, artificial intelligence, and software development. The most critical of these skills is software development, and an ideal candidate will have experience in the other three. To demonstrate skill in software development, the student should be able to provide code that the student has written and be able to walk someone through how the code works. This project lies at the intersection of many fields, including psychology and computer science. Students with a background in computer science, psychology, cognitive science, and other related fields are encouraged to apply.