Open Positions: Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP)

Position Openings for the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program


Student applications for summer positions will open from May 12, 2017. The deadline for applications will be May 24, 2017.

All positions are open to both work-study and non-work-study eligible students. All positions can be converted to work-study postions.

**Note: New position with Prof. Wang in Feinberg added on May 16**

 

Guidelines for Student URAP Applications

 

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:

 

  • 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 are asked to write a bio, remember that this is a job application and not a dating profile.
  • 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?
  • Give your potential employer enough information to make a decision. Answer the application questions fully and in detail. If you only give one line replies, how can a potential employer evaluate your interest in, and suitability for, the job?
  • 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 above) for why you are the best candidate for this job.
  • Copy edit your application before you send it. This should be obvious…
  • 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.)

 

 Once you have carefully read the description of the RA-ship you want to apply for

APPLY HERE

 

All Summer URAPs pay $15 per hour although there is an option to receive credit instead. Summer URAPs are for up to 275 hours, to be worked between June 12 and August 25, 2017. Some positions may split the hours between two or more students.

 

List of Open Positions

(scroll down for full descriptions)

 

Project title: NINETEENTH-CENTURY MICROBUSINESSES

Faculty name: Henry Binford

School and Department: Weinberg, History

 

Project title: DISCURSIVE VALUATION: Chinese Contemporary Art

Faculty name: Larissa Buchholz 

School and Department: School of Communication, Communication Studies

 

Project title: GAIT RETRAINING IN PERSONS WITH KNEE OA

Faculty name: Alison Chang

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

 

Project title: DEVELOPING NETWORKED TV (BETWEEN CYCLES)

Faculty name: Aymar Christian                 

School and Department: School of Communication, Communication Studies

 

Project title: LATINA/O IMMIGRATION ACTIVISM, 1972-1974

Faculty name: Myrna Garcia

School and Department: Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Latina and Latino Studies Program

 

Project title: HEARING AND GAIT STABILITY

Faculty name: Keith Gordon

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

 

Project title: NEW VOICES IN CLOSED SPACES

Faculty name: Joanna Grisinger

School and Department: Weinberg, Legal Studies

 

Project title: EMOTION IN COUPLES

Faculty name: Claudia Haase

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

 

Project title: LATERAL STEP TREADMILL TRAINING

Faculty name: Lois Hedman

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

 

Project title: ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, DRAMATURGE

Faculty name: Kyle Henry

School and Department: School of Communication, RTVF

 

Project title: MIXED CONDUCTION FOR BIOELECTRONICS

Faculty name: Jonathan Rivnay

School and Department: McCormick School of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering

 

*Project title: NEUROIMAGING STUDY OF PNES

*Faculty name:  Lei Wang

*School and Department: Feinberg School of Medicine, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

 

Project title: ASIAN AMERICANS IN THE MIDWEST

Faculty name: Ji-Yeon Yuh

School and Department: Weinberg, History, Asian American Studies

 

 

Full Descriptions

 

 

Project title: NINETEENTH-CENTURY MICROBUSINESSES

Faculty name: Henry Binford

School and Department: Weinberg, History

 

Faculty Bio: I am a social historian of the nineteenth-century United States, with a special interest in urbanization and urban sub-communities.

 

Project synopsis: I am engaged in a study of very small businesses - groceries, blacksmiths, boarding houses, saloons, and the like - in two mid-nineteenth-century cities.  I wish to know how immigrants and African American migrants got involved in such businesses, and how they related to their neighborhoods.

 

Description of the RA position: The student researcher will begin with data files that I have already amassed, and will work with me to add to them new information from newspapers, genealogical sources, and other archives to create short histories of what happened to the businesspersons in question over thirty years from 1840 to 1870.

 

Position Expectations: Student will learn to analyze census and other quantitative data, and to combine this information with more traditional historical sources.  I will also work with student to create GIS maps based on data collected.

 

Time Requirements: One position. 10-15 hours per week for 10 weeks.

 

Applicant Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of U.S. history.  Acquaintance with Excel or SPSS.  Patience with details.

 

 

Project title: DISCURSIVE VALUATION: Chinese Contemporary Art

Faculty name: Larissa Buchholz 

School and Department: School of Communication, 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 an increasingly globally interdependent and interconnected world. For my first book, this interest in global cultural issues narrows to the art world more specifically. In this book, titled “The Global Rules of Art,” 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 rivalled 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 theorizing the construction of value in a global cultural market. For the summer project, I will pursue an extended analysis of public discourses surrounding the valuation of Chinese Contemporary art to trace what kind of public meanings/categorizations were virulent and in which way they contributed to their astounding market success.

 

Description of the RA position: I am looking for two research assistants to help with 1) sampling, 2) preparing the discourse materials, 3) coding, 4) creating an overview/summary tables of the results. For each of the steps, I will introduce the students to the particular procedures. No prior knowledge necessary.

 

Position Expectations: Students will be able to observe the unfolding of a research project from beginning to end. Specifically, they will learn: 1) About the importance of anchoring research in a central empirical question and theoretical problematic (and what the difference is). 2) About systematic bibliographical research. 3) About the importance of sampling and respective methodological strategies. 4) About pursuing research on secondary sources to retrieve research materials efficiently. 5) About systematic coding procedures 6) about reaching generalizing conclusions, based on the systematic empirical analysis. 7) How to tie back the empirical conclusions to the theoretical puzzle.

 

Time Requirements: Two positions for 8 weeks. Part time. Approx. 10 hours per week. Timing can be arranged on a flexible basis. There will be opportunities to continue working as a research assistant during Fall and Winter term (not guaranteed funding through URAP).

 

Applicant Prerequisites: Most of all, enthusiasm for learning about research, attention to detail, punctuality. Preference for Chinese students. Acquaintance with Excel.

 

 

Project title: GAIT RETRAINING IN PERSONS WITH KNEE OA

Faculty name: Alison Chang

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

 

Faculty Bio: Alison Chang, PT, DPT, MS is Associate Professor, Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine.  Her research focuses on understanding the biomechanical and neurophysiological factors related to pain, physical function, and disease onset/progression, in persons with knee osteoarthritis and on developing and implementing novel biomechanical interventions to address these underlying factors for delaying disease progression and improving pain and function.

 

Project synopsis: Osteoarthritis is a leading contributor to chronic disability.  Twenty-three percent of U.S. adults report doctor-diagnosed arthritis and 10% have arthritis-related activity limitations.  Excessive joint loading is widely believed to initiate and accelerate disease process.  This project aims at testing a novel gait retraining program to reduce load and pain during walking for persons with knee osteoarthritis, using visual feedback display of knee load.  The study findings will aid the development of practical non-drug treatments to mitigate excessive load during walking and ultimately help improve patient pain and function outcomes.  We have shown that young healthy individuals successfully reduced their knee load during walking, following this gait retraining paradigm.  We plan to test a similar intervention on persons with knee osteoarthritis.  The study will be conducted at the Human Agility Laboratory, Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences.  The research assistant will work under the guidance of Alison Chang (Project PI), Keith Gordon (Lab Director), and Mary Wu (Lab Engineer).

 

Description of the RA position: The research assistant will help generating important pilot data for future federal grant applications and analyzing existing experimental data for publications.  Both of these require dedicated time and effort.

 

Position Expectations: The research assistant will be involved in acquiring and analyzing data collected from persons with knee osteoarthritis in the proposed gait retraining intervention.  Data collections will include recording data from a 12-camera motion capture system and a split-belt instrumented treadmill.  Following each data collection, the research assistant will process the motion capture data and run software to calculate muscle and joint moments.  In addition, the research assistant will be involved in analyzing previously collected biomechanical data (joint angles, moments and forces) during walking of people with knee osteoarthritis. This will involve writing Matlab scripts to understand the relationship between mechanical factors during walking and disease progression. The past URAP student participated in this line of inquiry has benefited greatly, including 2 conference abstracts (one at the national level, the other at the international level) and 1 first-authored manuscript in a prestigious orthopedic journal (revision under review at Journal of Orthopaedic Research).  He was among the finalists for Fletcher Award for Most Outstanding Project and nominated for Best Poster at the American Physical Therapy Association Annual Conference.  He has worked with us since joining our research team through URAP in 2015.  He will graduate this year and start his PhD study in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology.

 

Time Requirements: One position. This is an 8-week summer position around 30 hours/week.  It is expected that the student will contribute to the research objectives of the laboratory, participate in laboratory meetings, and learn about the research process.  There will be opportunities to continue working with the research team during the fall and winter terms.

 

Applicant Prerequisites: This position requires a requisite understanding of mechanics and an interest in human biomechanics. The research assistant must have experience using Matlab and LabVIEW. An ideal candidate should have completed ME 202 or BME 271.

 

 

Project title: DEVELOPING NETWORKED TV (BETWEEN CYCLES)

Faculty name: Aymar Christian                 

School and Department: School of Communication, Communication Studies

 

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: Open TV (beta) -- weareopen.tv -- is a platform distributing TV pilots and series by queer, trans and cis-women and artists of color. This research project investigates practices in television series development as it explores the possibilities for community-based arts in the digital age. Open TV platform will develop a television network from the bottom-up, using web distribution to incubate emerging artists and propel their careers. Open TV empowers this diverse set of creatives by producing and distributing original indie series by and about artists. It is designed it as an intervention in television, film, online video and art practices and industries. The experiment tests the entire process of developing original programming, mining small-scale context for the rich data it can provide: financing, production, marketing, exhibition, and distribution.

 

Description of the RA position: Students will assist with production or online exhibition. 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.

 

Position Expectations: The student focused on production will start as an assistant to myself helping organize a writers room and possibly pre-production on an original series that is an experiment in piloting and series licensing, part of this role will also require assistance with transcription, note-taking, and possibly subtitling videos.  The student focused on data 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.

 

Time Requirements: Two positions. 5-10 hours/week all summer.

 

Applicant Prerequisites: None. Knowledge of production skills and data analysis listed in the synopsis very helpful.

 

 

Project title: LATINA/O IMMIGRATION ACTIVISM, 1972-1974

Faculty name: Myrna Garcia

School and Department: Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Latina and Latino Studies Program

 

Faculty Bio: I am a scholar of Latina/o/x Studies interested in race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, immigration, citizenship, and social movements. I am currently preparing a monograph entitled, "Pueblo Sin Fronteras [Community Beyond Borders]: Immigration, Labor, and Community Activism in Latina/o Chicago, 1965-1986." I draw upon oral histories and archival research to document the youth activism undertaken by members of the Chicago chapter of the Center for Autonomous Social Action (CASA). Founded in Los Angeles in 1968, CASA is one of the most important transnational immigrant rights organizations to emerge from the Chicano Movement. CASA-Chicago youth in the 1970s conceptualized a "sin frontiers politics" as a transnational imagining that brought ethnic Mexicans together, regardless of birthplace, generation, or citizenship status. My research demonstrates how a sin fronteras politics was not only a precursor to the political ideology articulated in contemporary immigrant rights protests across the United States, but also a theoretical construct that grapples with both liberatory potentials and limitations for social change. The book project historicizes transnational Chicana/o~Latina/o youth activism as a continuum of a decolonial movement against state violence, global capitalism, racism, and labor exploitation.

 

Project synopsis: This project examines how the 1972 shooting of Margarito Rosendo Padilla, a Mexican immigrant, became a watershed moment in Chicago's Chicano Movement history, the largest and most widespread Mexican American civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The Rosendo Padilla incident marked a shift in political thought among Chicana/o and Latina/o activists that led to the emergence of a what I call a sin fronteras [without/beyond borders] politics in Chicago during the early 1970s. By sin fronteras politics, I mean a political idea and tool to fight for rights regardless of citizenship or immigration status. Chicago's Chicana/o and other Latina/o activists representing various political ideologies came together, at least for a moment in time (1972-1974), to mobilize against INS terror, and some continued a life-long pursuit of immigrant rights activism. This project documents a history that demonstrates how, and under what circumstances, Chicanas/os and Latinas/os, centered immigration issues in community activism. The Rosendo Padilla case led Chicago's Chicana/o and Latina/o activists to expand political claims of belonging in order to address the particular needs of immigrants. It provides a nuanced understanding of change over time (history) of Chicago's Chicana/o and Latina/o organizing around immigration issues.

 

Description of the RA position: I welcome the opportunity to mentor a rising sophomore or junior, and to introduce the student to world of academic knowledge production in an interdisciplinary field. I hope my mentorship will inspire the student to pursue his/her own research and equip the student to design his or own research project. Moreover, this research is critical and time-sensitive. It provides a historical background leading up to the current anti-immigrant/anti-Latina/o/x sentiment in the national imagination and the movements of resistance (immigration activism). The summer provides the time to conduct the additional research I need to complete this special project while also mentoring students. I will also have the time to conduct follow-up interviews with key participants that has been difficult to do so during the academic year given the constraints of my academic responsibilities on campus.

 

Position Expectations: I have identified the gaps in my research and the RAs will assist me in addressing these gaps. This project adopts an interdisciplinary approach drawing on archival, ethnographic, and qualitative methods. The students will learn how the archival and interview material provide a fuller and nuanced understanding of the Chicana/o politics of Latino immigration. The students will study and organize ephemera (documents, letters, photographs, flyers, newspaper clippings) I have collected from various public and private archival collections. The students will also review the transcripts of the interviews and oral histories I collected, and in some case transcribe the interview material. The students will learn how scholars assess their research material, organize it, and analyze it. Additional research tasks, include  researching historical newspapers from English-language and Spanish-language presses, collecting maps, demographic data, requesting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) records.

 

Time Requirements: Two positions. 8 weeks over the summer.

 
Applicant Prerequisites: Students should have proficiency in the Spanish-language. Ideally, the students should have taken a course in ethnic studies (Latina/o Studies, African American Studies, Asian American Studies), American Studies, or History.

 

 

Project title: HEARING AND GAIT STABILITY

Faculty name: Keith Gordon

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

 

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) understanding the principles governing the neural control of human locomotion and the factors influencing balance and stability, and 2) apply this knowledge to enhance walking ability following neuromuscular injury.

 

Project synopsis: Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in adults over 65 making it imperative that we identify addressable fall risk factors. Recent cohort studies have identified a positive relationship between hearing loss and the probability of falling. Mild hearing loss (25 dB) is associated with a three-fold increase in fall rate. Additional increases in fall rate were found as hearing loss increased (1.4-fold increase in fall rate for every additional 10dB of hearing loss). However, the mechanisms linking hearing loss and falls is unclear. This study will directly examine the impact of auditory feedback on walking stability. We hypothesize that self-generated sounds (e.g. footsteps) during walking enhance people's ability to locate their absolute and relative position in space and position during that gait cycle (e.g. is the limb in contact with the ground). These are critical factors for controlling walking stability. To examine the effect hearing has on walking stability we will perform a biomechanical analysis of normal hearing younger and older adult subjects as they walk during conditions that either attenuate hearing or artificially manipulate spatial auditory input. Results from this study will provide clear quantitative data on how auditory feedback is used to control dynamic balance. Identifying the mechanisms relating hearing loss and walking stability is a necessary first-step towards improving fall-prevention interventions. We anticipate that the data we collect during the proposed pilot experiments will provide a strong scientific platform to apply for external funding to further examine the relationship between hearing loss and falls and assess evidence-based interventions.

 

Description of the RA position: The research assist will be trained to use the motion capture acquisition system and associated biomechanics analysis software. The research assist will participate in setting up and calibrating the camera system prior to each data collection. During data collections the research assistant will run the motion capture acquisition system. Following data collections the research assistant will process the raw camera data to create a biomechanical model of the subject walking. The research assistant will then use the model to calculate, lower body joint angles, center of mass trajectories and metrics used to estimate dynamic stability during the different hearing conditions. Finally, the research assistant will calculate group statics comparing performance changes across conditions and assist in the creation of clear summary figures and graphics.This project involves acquiring and analyzing a very large data set, 20 young adult subjects and 20 older adult subject. Each data collection for each subject will last approximately 3 hours and requires three individuals to run the computer acquisition systems and audio software, and assist the subject. Following each data collection, 5+ hours is need to process and analyze the data of each individual subject. Additional time will then be required to summarize the group data. The presence of a research assistant at each data collection would be incredibly helpful for running the motion capture acquisition systems. Their presence will provide some flexibility in running experiments this summer as the other members of the research team (research engineer and physical therapist are each part-time). The undergraduate assist will greatly speed the rate at which we can collect data. Once data is collected, a research assistant will aid in processing the data and ultimately allow the presentation and publication of this study to occur in an accelerated time period than our laboratory group could achieve without their assistance. It is necessary for us to conduct this pilot study before we can apply for larger grants to explore this new and promising line of research.

 

Position Expectations: The student research assistant will be trained to use the 12-camera 3D motion capture acquisition system, industry standard biomechanics analysis software and audio production software. The research assistant will participate in setting up and calibrating the camera system prior to each data collection. During data collections the research assistant will locate bony-landmarks and place motion tracking markers on study participants, control the motion capture acquisition system to record lower limb walking kinematics(movements), and run the audio software. Following data collections the research assistant will process the raw camera data and use it to create a biomechanical model of the participant's walking. The research assistant will then use the model to calculate, lower body joint angles, center of mass trajectories, and additional metrics used to estimate dynamic stability and energy consumption. Finally, the research assistant will modify and utilize custom written Matlab scripts to calculate group statics and summarize performance changes across conditions.This research experience will provide several valuable and rare learning opportunities for undergraduate students pursuing careers in biomedical engineering and medical research. Specifically the student will, 1) gain hands-on experience using state-of-the-art motion tracking hardware, 2) have an opportunity to learn how to safely conduct human subject research, and 3) learn to apply classroom engineering principles to perform complex biomechanical analysis of human movement. These skills are translatable to a number of future careers that include medical and sports biomechanics research, ergonomic and accident reconstruction, design and analysis of wearable robotic devices and development of computer animation algorithms. Both the instrumentation and analyze processes the student will work with are regularly discussed in upper level engineering coursework but the opportunity for an undergraduate student to gain first-hand experience with this equipment to critique actual human subject data is both rare and exciting.

 

Time Requirements: One position. The expectation is that the research assistant will work an average of 25 hours/week for 10 weeks during the summer.

 

Applicant Prerequisites: This position requires a requisite understanding of mechanics and an interest in human biomechanics. The research assistant must have experience using Matlab. An ideal candidate will have completed ME 202 or BME 271 however students early in their academic careers will be considered.

 

 

Project title: NEW VOICES IN CLOSED SPACES

Faculty name: Joanna Grisinger

School and Department: Weinberg, Legal Studies

 

Faculty Bio: I am a legal historian who studies the US administrative state in the twentieth century.

 

Project synopsis: What did the right to participate in agency action look like, in the years following the New Deal? And what did the expansion of this right in the 1960s and 1970s mean for agency autonomy? To answer this question, I am looking at the evolution of participation at the Civil Aeronautics Board, from its creation heyday in the late 1930s to the outburst of new pressures (from civil rights groups, women's groups, and environmental groups) in the 1960s and 1970s. These groups mounted active challenges these to airlines, and airline regulation. By design, regulated parties played an active role in the administrative process at each agency, and each developed in tandem with the industry they regulated. Such relationships defined administrators' conceptions of competition and the public interest, and these close relations between regulator and regulated demonstrated the power of access (and gave rise to frequent charges of capture and clientalism). However, as public interest groups began to recognize the importance of administrative authority, they challenged the commissions' traditional bureaucratic autonomy. I am interested in how these confrontations occurred, and how successful they were at bringing fresh voices into closed spaces. This is part of a broader research agenda on how traditional economic regulatory agencies (such as the Federal Communications Commission, the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Department of Agriculture, and the Federal Trade Commission) responded to new pressures to ensure racial, ethnic, and gender equality in the 1960s and 1970s.

 

Description of the RA position: I hope to have help working through a variety of historical sources having to do with environmental regulation and litigation regarding airlines in the late 1960s/1970s. I also am interested in having the student explore gender and early disability rights (considered separately) challenges in the airline context. I hope that the research assistant finds the topic interesting (this project involves law and federal power) and learns historical and legal research and analysis skills that would easily transfer to research as a History major, Political Science major, or Legal Studies major (or any other social science major).

 

Position Expectations: The student will be doing the work of a legal historian as s/he learns to locate and analyze a variety of primary sources. The student will become familiar with published government and online databases, and will gain practice analyzing a wide variety of documents. The student will also learn to find and summarize scholarly literature in a variety of fields (law, political science, history). The student’s analysis will be crucial to the book project, and s/he will be well situated to conduct his or her own independent research project in the future.

 

Time Requirements: One position. 20 hours a week/10 weeks over the summer

 

Applicant Prerequisites: Students interested in developing historical and legal research and analysis skills. I'd prefer students have taken at least one  college level history course.

 

 

Project title: EMOTION IN COUPLES

Faculty name: Claudia Haase

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

 

Faculty Bio: I am a life-span developmental psychologist. I very much enjoy working on our research projects with undergraduate and graduate students, mentoring them in the process, and learning from them as well. For more information, go to: claudia-haase.net

 

Project synopsis: We are looking for a bright, motivated, and responsible student to work with us 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). Whether marriages fare well or poorly has implications for the well-being of spouses, children, and the larger society. Emotions in turn loom large as key predictors of marital adjustment. There are important gaps in our understanding of couples’ emotional functioning, which we seek to address with this study.

 

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, RAs will review relevant academic literature on emotion, relationships, psychophysiology, and well-being. RAs play 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 and to data analysis. Finally, RAs have the opportunity to develop their own research questions that they can pursue throughout the school year. RAs will be working with other undergraduate and graduate students in our lab. They will participate in weekly lab meetings and regular meetings with me.

 

Position Expectations: Bright, dedicated, reliable, and interested in affective, developmental, and relationship science. Student must be able to continue to conduct research with us during the academic year 2017/2018.

 

Time Requirements: One position. Summer

 

Applicant Prerequisites: No prerequisites.

 

 

Project title: LATERAL STEP TREADMILL TRAINING

Faculty name: Lois Hedman

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

 

Faculty Bio: I am an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences. My research focus is on dynamic balance control and how it is affected post stroke and interventions that may improve it.

 

Project synopsis: Reactive protective stepping is a common strategy used in everyday life to maintain upright balance.  Stroke survivors tend not to step with their paretic limb when their standing equilibrium is perturbed in the sagittal plane. This is true even if the subjects are instructed to step with their paretic leg, when their non-paretic leg is blocked or is bearing more weight. This results in a decreased flexibility to respond to perturbations and thus increases fall risk.  Coronal plane perturbations have been shown to be more challenging for older adults and may necessitate greater responses from the paretic limb in stroke survivors but this has never been investigated in the stroke population. In addition, there have not been any training protocols focused on increasing reactive paretic limb lateral stepping. This pilot study will directly examine the reactive stepping responses to lateral (coronal) perturbations and the effect of treadmill training on these responses. We hypothesize that community dwelling stroke survivors will: 1) rarely initiate stepping with their paretic limb, 2) have more falls than controls, 3) utilize a different step strategy than controls. 3) tolerate and be safe during lateral step treadmill training. Following training, participants who have had a stroke will demonstrate a decreased need for external assistance in all training conditions and increase the percentage of trials in which stepping is initiated with the paretic limb.

 

Description of the RA position: Each subject’s pre-post data collection session will last approximately 3 hours total and requires three individuals to run the computer acquisition systems, perturbation system, and assist the subject. Following each data collection, 2+ hours is needed to process and analyze the data from each subject. Additional time will then be required to summarize the group data. Three individuals are also necessary to run the training sessions (2 one hour sessions per week). A research assistant presence will enable us to run experiments this summer as student physical therapists are off campus during this time.  The undergraduate assistant will greatly speed the rate at which we can collect data. Once data is collected, a research assistant will aid in processing the data and ultimately allow the presentation and publication of this study to occur in an accelerated time period than our group could achieve without their assistance.

 

Position Expectations: The research assistant will be trained to use the motion capture acquisition system and associated biomechanics analysis software. The research assist will participate in setting up and calibrating the camera system prior to each data collection. During pre and post data collections the research assistant will run the motion capture acquisition system. Following data collections the research assistant will process the raw camera data to create a biomechanical model of the subject. The research assistant will then use the model to calculate, step characteristics, lower body joint angles, center of mass trajectories and metrics used to estimate dynamic stability. Finally, the research assistant will modify and utilize custom written Matlab scripts to calculate group statistics and summarize performance changes across conditions. During the training sessions the research assistant will be expected to assist in the training protocol and operation of the equipment. This research experience will provide several valuable and rare learning opportunities for undergraduate students pursuing careers in biomedical engineering and medical research. Specifically the student will, 1) gain hands-on experience using state-of-the-art motion tracking hardware, 2) opportunity to engage and safely conduct human subject research, and 3) apply classroom engineering principles to perform biomechanical analysis of human movement, 4) work with other disciplines and patient populations.

 

Time Requirements: One position. The expectation is that the research assistant will work an average of 25 hours/week for 10 weeks during the summer.

 

Applicant Prerequisites: Ability to listen and ask questions to address the issues at hand, flexibility in thinking and management of time and task, open to feedback and ability to contribute ideas, clear and concise communication, experience with Matlab would be helpful.

 

 

Project title: ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, DRAMATURGE

Faculty name: Kyle Henry

School and Department: School of Communication, RTVF

 

Faculty Bio: My feature fiction narrative directing debut Room premiered at both the Sundance and Cannes film festivals and was nominated for two FIND Independent Spirit Awards. My feature documentary University Inc., about the corporatization of higher education, and American Cowboy, about a gay rodeo champ, received wide festival play, with the former touring colleges and universities through the country as part of Michael Moore and Richard Linklater’s The McCollege Tour. My short film Fourplay: Tampa premiered at the Cannes in 2011 and played at Sundance 2012. My Fourplay feature anthology, executive produced by Michael Stipe and Jim McKay, premiered at Frameline and toured internationally and received US distribution via TLA Releasing. My derived fiction film Rogers Park, about two interracial couples struggling with mid-life crisis, will premiere at festivals later this year. I'm interested in communities and individuals in crisis, where character and cultural/political fault lines are revealed in extremis. My work continues to become more collaborative and communal as I work with actors and screenwriters to craft stories based on observational research.

 

Project synopsis: Memory Care is a derived collaborative feature fiction film project about eldercare workers and their patients in a memory care facility. Inspired by my own experiences caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s, as well as Ai-Jen Poo’s book The Age of Dignity, a non-fiction study of low-paid elder-care workers, Memory Care will focus on the fraught, demanding and sometimes transformational relationships that exist between mostly women-of-color immigrant workers and their aging and often white patients. The project will further an innovative collaborative creation process I used on my previous fiction film Rogers Park, where actors are paired with real-world surrogates to create characters that are then developed over the course of several workshops and incorporated into a story via collaboration with a screenwriter. Screenplays are normally the product of either a single writer or a team of writers, but rarely is a process used whereby the actors who will portray a role are given the chance to help create, with the writer and director, a character from the ‘ground floor up’ through observational research. With this project, I’d also like to collaborate with two academic consultants who will review our research (in the form of story treatments, outlines, and rehearsal videos) for authenticity regarding their areas of expertise. Northwestern Assistant Professor Aymar Jean Christian, whose grandmother has worked as an eldercare worker for decades, will be consulted regarding issues of representation, race and sexuality which his research often concerns. Assistant Professor Angela Roberts, a researcher of caregiver education programs, will be consulted regarding the representation of eldercare practices and procedures. Finally, Northwestern student research assistants will be intimately involved in the workshop process, as they were with Rogers Park, working as: videographers, dramaturges, editors of compiled research, and story consultants. All workshop participants will be consulted and surveyed throughout the process to help shape an effective and emotionally engaging narrative.

 

Description of the RA position: I need a student assistant director/dramaturge to assist: casting workshop actors, finding crew and other participants, configuring optimal scheduling, interfacing with agencies and the Screen Actors Guild to assemble and transmit required paperwork, note taking during workshop sessions, digitizing and logging audio/video footage shot during workshop, and providing valuable feedback throughout the process as part of a creative team. The student will receive the credit of "Workshop Assistant Director" in the final credits of the eventually shot feature film.

 

Position Expectations: Student is expected to work 15-20hrs/wk starting in late June to help with casting/scheduling/prepping for a week long workshop session during the week of  July 17th. During the week long session, student would work for 40hrs as a dramaturge taking notes on various improvisation and feedback sessions with cast actors, and help to file necessary paperwork with SAG. Following the workshop, the student would log/digitize any audio/video footage captured during the workshop and work with the director to process notes/feedback into a synthesized narrative outline again working 15-20hrs/wk.

 

Time Requirements: One position. 12-20hrs/week + 1 x 40hr/week during the week of July 17th.

 

Applicant Prerequisites: RTVF 190 Media Construction required. Preferably RTVF 370 Producing OR  producing credits on at least 3 significant student film productions.

 

 

Project title: MIXED CONDUCTION FOR BIOELECTRONICS

Faculty name: Jonathan Rivnay

School and Department: McCormick School of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering

 

Faculty Bio: Jonathan Rivnay is an new Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Biomedical Engineering. He is a materials scientist by training, working in the area of organic bioelectronics. He aims to bring a fundamental science and engineering approach to designing new active materials for biomedical devices. His research goals and interests aim to develop new materials and devices to facilitate the seamless integration of sensing/actuation technologies with cells and tissue to enable improvements in diagnosis and therapy. The group will focus on active materials such as conducting polymers due to their synthetic tunability, soft mechanical properties, demonstrated stability and compatibility with biological tissue, and their ability to take on a broad range of form factors from ultra-thin and flexible, to fibrous or scaffold-like. Importantly, these materials exhibit mixed ionic and electronic conduction, which aids in closing the signaling gap inherent to the bioelectronic interface. The research will utilize the unique properties of these soft, optoelectronically active materials to bridge the disparate worlds of biological systems and traditional microelectronic and optical tools.

 

Project synopsis: Sensing and stimulation in bioelectronics is a requisite for proper sensing/diagnosis, and effective therapy. For example neuroscience and neuroengineering tools allow for clinicians to properly localize seizures due to Epilepsy, or to electrically stimulate regions of the brain, as in deep brain stimulators for Parkinson's Disease. The active interface bridging the biomedical tool (a probe/recording system) and the biological system (in this case brain tissue) is critical for the quality of recording, efficiency of stimulation, and lifetime of the biomedical device upon implantation. To bridge this interface we employ soft, electroactive materials which help to span the signaling gap. Whereas biological systems communicate through ionic motion and bio molecular recognition, electronic systems rely on hole/electron transport. Organic bioelectronic materials are inherently mixed conductors, understanding the role of mixed transport and the effect of film microstructure and morphology is critical to designing the next generation of bioelectronic materials. This project will take a synthetic and materials approach to understand the role of molecular design and processing on the requisite properties. The goal is to design an ideal active material to act as the channel material in an active (transistor) sensing node for electrophysiological applications.

 

Description of the RA position: Ongoing collaborations with synthetic chemists have produced a library of new polymeric semiconductors which we believe to have ideal mixed ionic and electronic transport properties. Particularly, these synthetic families of materials target the effect of side chain chemistry/density, and backbone composition. The research assistant will undertake a screening effort whereby the electrochemical properties, lifetime, and spectro-electrochemical switching is characterized in a controlled manner for the most relevant materials families. From this information, the researcher will determine possible trends related to stability, operation window, and ionic and electronic transport properties. Top performers will be incorporated as transistor channels, and organic electrochemical transistors will be tested in simulated biological environments.

 

Position Expectations: Raw materials from will be readily available through collaborations with chemists. The student will undertake back-end fabrication of devices for electrical and electrochemical measurements. This involves casting films of the active polymers onto various test structures. The researcher will learn how to characterize the electrochemical properties of these films using a potentiostat, and will simultaneous record the optical absorption changes using a white-light spectrometer. This will involve data acquisition, workup and analysis using pre-written data processing tools. The student will learn about the basic chemical and structural variations that are induced through small chemical modifications and how they may influence the electrochemical, electrical and optical signatures, so as to understand the nature of the data workup. The student will look for trends and test hypotheses regarding the potential role of the molecular design on the observed changes, and how this may affect operation in biologically relevant conditions. It is expected that these results will contribute to a larger study involving biosensor implementation, and could lead to inclusion in a published manuscript, for which the researcher would prepare text and figures, and learn about the publications process. For this reason, I hope that a longer term commitment is desired on the student's end, this way the process for materials characterization, analysis, and results dissemination can be seen through in full.

 

Time Requirements: One position. I am targeting a summer student to work full time. (I am unfamiliar with Northwestern's standard undergraduate research involvement, as I am new to the university), With the potential to continue through the academic year.

 

Applicant Prerequisites: No prerequisite required. I am looking for engineering freshmen or sophomores that are motivated and eager to get into research, with a preference for those in the Materials Science, Electrical Engineering, or Biomedical Engineering space.

 

Project title: NEUROIMAGING STUDY OF PNES

Faculty name:  Lei Wang

School and Department: Feinberg School of Medicine, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

 

Faculty Bio: Dr. Wang is an assistant 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: PNES, a conversion disorder, is characterized by acute behavioral changes that resemble epileptic seizures, however they are not caused by abnormal brain discharges, and are associated with emotional stressors. PNES is associated with increased morbidity, use of intensive health services, and risk for iatrogenic side effects. When undiagnosed, the cost of treating PNES is similar to treating intractable epilepsy. Although data on the psychosocial risk factors for pediatric PNES are emerging, information on potential underlying neurobiological pathways is not available. This study would be the first to explore the neurobiological basis of PNES in adolescents. Only limited number of neuroimaging studies has been conducted in adults with PNES and their findings point towards dysfunction in striato-thalamo-cortical circuit. Morphological brain analyses of adults with PNES demonstrate cortical thinning of the motor and premotor regions in the right hemisphere compared to controls. Altered functional connectivity between various brain regions, especially the prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex, has been reported in adults with conversion disorder as compared to healthy controls. Further, dysfunction in the medial PFC and the anterior cingulate cortex is thought to mediate emotional dysregulation in PNES adults. We have collected neuroimaging and clinical data in 15 adolescents with PNES and 15 controls. Neuroimaging data includes T1-weighted structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), diffusion-weighted MRI, and resting-state functional MRI data. We hypothesize that subjects with PNES would show abnormality in the hippocampal-cortical and the striato-thalamo-cortical circuit. Specifically, we will investigate brain gray matter structure, white matter connection, and resting-state functional connectivity in these circuits. We will also assess comorbid psychiatric diagnoses, anxiety sensitivity, somatization, and adverse life experiences, and investigate their relationship with the abnormalities in the brain structure compared to controls.

 

Description of the RA position: Position Expectations: The abovementioned neuroimaging and clinical data have already been collected. We are seeking research assistants and trainees who are interested in the clinical and/or technical aspects of this project to assist in the analysis of data. Although much of the image processing is automated with the help of freely available software packages, quality assurance (QA) procedures are necessary in order to assure that results are of high quality. Our lab will provide the necessary training for the RAs to perform the QA procedures. Further, RAs are needed to perform preliminary statistical analysis. All work by RA will be performed under supervision. On the structural MRI data, student RAs will generate and structural surface data 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, amygdala, thalamus, and basal ganglia regions. Cortical structures include all cortical parcellations such as regions within the prefrontal, temporal and parietal cortices as provided by FreeSurfer. RAs will perform group comparisons of brain structures using our surface deformation-based statistical software (written in Matlab). Relationship with clinical measures will be carried out in SPSS, SAS, or R. It is anticipated that each student RA will be responsible for a set of brain structures, going from QA to statistical analysis and reporting. Students will gain a variety of knowledge and skills in image processing, statistical analysis, and cognitive measurements. Students will be exposed to clinical research of adolescent PNES in specific, and research methodology in general. They will also learn to make presentations and scientific reports, and potentially contribute to conference abstracts and journal papers.

 

Time Requirements: Full time during summer, or 8-10 hrs/week for academic year.

 

Applicant Prerequisites: Basic understanding of statistics such as a T test.

 

 

Project title: ASIAN AMERICANS IN THE MIDWEST

Faculty name: Ji-Yeon Yuh

School and Department: Weinberg, History, Asian American Studies

 

Faculty Bio: I am a scholar of Asian diaspora. One of my current projects focuses on Asian Americans in the Midwest, a neglected demographic despite more than a century of diverse and rich history. The goal is to document and publicize this history to a wider audience through oral history research.

 

Project synopsis: This summer project seeks to document the life experiences of Asian refugees and immigrants and second or third generation Asian Americans in the Midwest, groups largely overlooked by scholars. In particular, the summer work seeks to focus on the communities of Chinatown and the Argyle neighborhood in Chicago. Chicago’s Chinatown has a history going back more than a century, while the Argyle neighborhood is home to a post-1965 community of immigrants and refugees from Southeast Asia and China. The project is part of a larger project, Global Chicago Stories, which collects, archives, and curate oral histories of Asian Americans in the Chicago area. The oral histories will be archived at the Asian Diaspora Oral History Repository (ADOHR), generously sponsored by the Northwestern Library.

 

Description of the RA position: Oral history research is very time consuming, and I alone cannot conduct the number of interviews necessary for the project. Additionally, one of the goals is to document these communities for ADOHR, and this requires maximizing both the quality and the quantity of interviews.

 

Position Expectations: I will train the research assistant in oral history interviewing methods and in the background literature on Chicago’s Chinatown and Argyle neighborhood. We will identify narrators to interview and draw up questions and topics for the interviews. Many of the local community organizations are known to me already, and several have promised assistance in locating narrators. The research assistant will then conduct interviews throughout the summer, transcribing and documenting each one for deposit in ADOHR. The RA will be in continuous contact with me at all stages of the work, but will also have much autonomy in the conduct of the research. The RA will be responsible for conducting and transcribing the interviews, and also for writing up short biographical sketches of each narrator. The first stage of the project, to be completed this summer, is the actual interviewing. The second stage is the transcribing, the writing of biographies, and the outlines of community histories. I expect the second stage to take place in the fall, so at this time I am requesting support for the first stage, which consists of oral history training, learning neighborhood and community history, locating narrators, and conducting interviews. I expect that the research assistant will be able to interview about 20 to 25 narrators total. Each interview will require 5 to 8 hours of work, depending on the length of the interview and the amount of prep necessary. The training and the historical prep work will require about 30 to 40 hours.

 

Time Requirements: One position. 25 hours per week for 10 weeks in the summer.

 

Applicant Prerequisites: No prerequisites, although some facility in a Chinese dialect or a Southeast Asian language would be useful.