Open Positions: Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP)


Hiring for Open Undergraduate Research Assistant Positions!!


Student applications for open Academic Year positions open on November 4th, 2019. The deadline for applications will be Monday November 18th, 2019 at 11:59pm. Faculty members are expected to make decisions by December 1st, 2019, and students will need to turn in their payroll paperwork to the Office of Undergraduate Research before end of Fall quarter.

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

All URAPs pay $15 per hour. Since the maximum award for Academic Year URAPs is $2000, this comes to ~133 hours, to be worked between the time the student is entered in the Kronos payroll system and May 29, 2020. Some positions may split the hours between two students (which means you will not be able to earn a full $2000). 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:

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

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

  • After finalizing your resume and tailored cover letter, save the documents as a PDF (see expectations below).
  • Below, click on the green “Apply Here” button and login to the application system using your netID and password
  • On the left hand panel, select “Apply for Open Applications”.
  • Click on the “Office of Undergraduate Research” department to view active positions.
  • Scroll down to find the position you are interested in. They are listed by the short title of the project, and underneath includes the faculty sponsor’s name.
  • Click on the title of the project (in blue) to submit your application.
  • Upload the PDF resume and cover letter. Hit submit.
  • It will take you to a survey, which you HAVE TO COMPLETE OR SUBMISSION IS NOT FINALIZED.
  • The system will automatically generate an email within 15 minutes indicating successful submission. The faculty will also receive an email notifying them of your application.
  • Faculty members hiring will be in touch regarding next steps (interviews, etc) when the application window closes on 5/28/18.


Expectations on Cover Letter and Resume Submission

You are applying for a position that is competitive – take the time to write a strong application. If you have not written a job application before we recommend you review the resources provided by Career Advancement before starting. The following tips should serve as a baseline; Students can receive additional advising on this process from Northwestern Career Advancement (NCA), and they can schedule an appointment through HandShake. 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.We strongly encourage you to download the 2018-2020 Career Guide as a comprehensive resource.


  • 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.


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

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



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




List of Open Positions



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


Faculty Mentor


Project Title

Giuseppe Buscarnera

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Computer simulation of the impact of infrastructure development and climate change on ground instabilities

 Stevie Chancellor

Computer Science

Identifying Dosing Strategies for Alternative Therapies in Opioid Addiction Online Communities

 Aymar Christian

Communication Studies

Open TV Exhibition Data Project

 Cynthia Coburn

Human Development and Social Policy

How do school districts learn?

 Abigail Foerstner


Mirror at Cahokia: Cosmos and Climate

 Jordan Gans-Morse

Political Science

Russian Studies & Comparative Politics

 Keith Gordon

Physical Therapy & Human Movement Sciences

Movement Amplification to Improve Balance

 Ava Greenwell


Scholarly Podcasting for the Journalism Profession

 Netta Gurari

Physical Therapy & Human Movement Sciences

Accuracy of Judging Elbow Torques During a Multi-Joint Task

 Claudia Haase

Human Development and Social Policy

Emotion in Relationships

 Kyle Henry

Radio, TV, Film

Trace of Time - Assistant Editor/Research Assistant

 Katherine Hoffman

Anthropology & MENA Studies

Mirror of the Soul: Language, Islam and Law in French Native Policy of Morocco (1912-1956)

 Teresa Horton


Jobs in the Garden: Does Horticultural Therapy Improve Outcomes in a Job Training Program for Veterans?

 Matthew Johnson


Mapping settlement and landscape across the British Isles and north Atlantic

 Katherine Martinez

Physical Therapy & Human Movement Sciences

Reactive Step Training in Person Post Stroke

 Theresa Moulton

Physical Therapy & Human Movement Sciences

Coding of joint movement in infants with high risk for motor delays and typical development during early life

 Quinn Mulroy

Human Development and Social Policy

Enforcing the Rights Revolution: The Political Development of Social Policies Addressing Racial and Gender Inequality

 Stephen Nelson

Political Science

Billionaires in Politics

 Sally Nuamah

Human Development and Social Policy

The Punishment of Black Women and Girls and its Consequences for Democracy

 Thomas Ogorzalek

Political Science

Chicago Democracy Project

 Spencer Parsons

Radio, TV, Film

Feature film dramaturgy and workshopping: MR. DUST

 Amy Partridge

Gender & Sexuality Studies

Feminist Research Lab: Building mini-collections to support ongoing original and collaborative research using NU archival collections

 Sylvia Perry


Children's perceptions of social groups and social class

 Gregory Phillips II

Medical Social Sciences

The Evaluation, Data Integration, and Technical Assistance (EDIT) Research Program in HIV and Sexual and Gender Minority Health

Yang Qu

Human Development and Social Policy 

Stereotypes of Adolescence



 Andrew Roberts

Political Science

Billionaires in Politics

 Karen Springen


The Path from an Academic Internship to a Meaningful First Job



 Wendy Wall


The Pulter Project: Poet in the Making


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Project title: Computer simulation of ground failure

Faculty name: Giuseppe Buscarnera

School and Department: MCEAS, Civil and Environmental Engineering


Faculty Bio: Giuseppe Buscarnera is an Associate Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at Northwestern University. He received his B.Sc., M.S. and Ph.D all in Civil Engineering from the Politecnico di Milano, Italy. During his doctoral and post-doctoral studies he collaborated with several institutions around the world, such as the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and The University of Sydney. Dr. Buscarnera's research focuses on geomechanics, i.e. the quantification of the mechanical properties of the materials that constitute the Earth. In particular, his work focuses on the physics of porous media and its application to geohazard assessment and subsurface energy technology. In the context of geohazard science, Dr. Buscarnera’s group is committed to develop, test and disseminate open source tools for hazard forecasting, an area increasingly crucial to assess the long-term implications of changes in land use, evolving climate patterns, infrastructure development and resource exploitation, especially when these events can harm to the safety of human communities. Dr. Buscarnera is serving as the PI of various sponsored research projects on these topics and his research in this area has been recognized with several awards, such as the Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation and the ASCE Arthur Casagrande award.


Project synopsis: While infrastructure development is among the key factors for the modernization of the poorest areas of the world, it also poses major environmental challenges because of its potential to damage the ecosystem and deteriorate the resources available for future generations. Among the activities involved in infrastructure development, a key role is played by earth movement, i.e. excavation, transportation and storage of soil for construction purposes. The impact of such operations is enormous and the realization of transportation corridors, water supply pipelines and power generation facilities accounts for a large fraction of this total. As a result, although the benefits of infrastructure development are crucial for the economic growth of a nation, their environmental consequences can be irreversible. Enormous disruptions of the ground surface may lead to unintended effects, especially if they are not planned with consideration of the environmental processes connected with them. This project aims to tackle these challenges by focusing on two length scales at which infrastructures are designed: (i) the scale of a landscape (where decisions related to the land for new infrastructures are taken) and (ii) the scale of individual sites (where decisions about the use of natural resources for construction and terrain stabilization are taken). In particular, the project aims to optimize computational tools to assess surface hazards. Such assessment will be conducted with reference to cases studies in various areas of the world, including North America and South East Asia. Specifically, data relative to extensively monitored, densely populated areas will be used to test the models. Afterwards, the models will be applied to planned transportation corridors in developing countries, where infrastructure development may cause major disruption to the local ecosystem. The long-term goal of the project is to develop tools applicable in numerous areas of the world where a sustainable equilibrium between infrastructure and environment is crucial to increase the quality of life and minimize the risks for local communities.


Description of the RA position: The research assistant for this position is expected to join a diverse research team, contribute to the ongoing research activities and focus on specific goals around which their project will be centered. Participation to group meetings and discussions will be highly encouraged.

Specifically, the student will be responsible for the following activities:

1. Conduct a literature review, as to get acquainted with the topic, its challenges and the methods that are currently available.

2. Become familiar with the software that will be used for the analyses; formulate a plan of work based on the project goals.

3. Collect, visualize and interpret available data for the selected case studies.

4. Conduct computer simulations to investigate the problem of interest. This task will represent the core of the project. Milestones of this work will be to perform analyses for multiple scenarios, interpret the results and compare them with the available data.

5. Provide presentations about the progress of the research activities during group meetings, as well as through a final technical report.


Position Expectations: The selected research assistant will be introduced to strategies for literature search, and will be expected to conduct efficient, systematic and critical reviews and identify relevant publications for the research project. The student will receive training on the typical datasets used for regional hazard assessment, such as geospatial maps, digital elevation models, and satellite data. As a result, development of proficiency in the collection and use of these datasets is expected. The available information will be used in computer codes for data analysis and model simulations. MATLAB will be the preferred platform for the analyses. As a result, proficiency in its use will be highly valued. More in general, the selected student will receive training in the coding and formulation of computer models of spatial processes. Hence, an interest in these subjects is highly beneficial.


Time Requirements: The selected student is expected to work on this project during the Winter and Spring quarter with an average weekly effort of about 5 hours per week. Although the research assistant will be encouraged to organize their schedule flexibly and independently, regular bi-weekly meetings with Dr. Buscarnera will be arranged to discuss the project advances and update the goals of the work as new results are obtained.


Applicant Prerequisites: The Buscarnera group is seeking for a student eager to join a multidisciplinary research team to actively contribute to research in natural hazard science. The work conducted by the selected undergraduate research assistant will involve basic understanding of physics (e.g., mechanics of solids and/or fluids) and mathematics (calculus). Sophomores to seniors in any Department of the McCormick school of Engineering, as well as in several Departments of the Weinberg school of Arts and Sciences, such as Earth and Planetary Sciences, Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy or Chemistry, are invited to apply. Interest in computer simulations or data analysis would be a positive addition.


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Project title: Opioid Addiction and Online Communities

Faculty name: Stevie Chancellor

School and Department: MCEAS, Computer Science


Faculty Bio: I am the CS+X Postdoctoral Fellow in Computer Science. My research focuses on developing human-centered approaches to machine learning and data science to understand online communities and risky mental health behaviors. I use computational techniques like machine learning to understand online communities that engage in dangerous behaviors, like pro-eating disorder, suicide, and addiction. My interest is in developing systems that can (one day) assist those struggling with mental illness in online platforms and make data science more ethical in the process. Broadly, my work applies to areas like human-computer interaction, data science for social good, and applied machine learning.


Project synopsis: The student will actively participate in my research project extending prior work on opioid addiction and Reddit communities. In online communities, those who are addicted to opioids support those seeking recovery, in part by promoting clinically grounded treatments. However, some communities also promote clinically unverified OUD treatments, such as unregulated and untested drugs. Little research exists on which alternative treatments people use, whether these treatments are effective for recovery, or if they cause negative side effects. My prior work identified a list of these substances from Reddit data. This new project explores this line of work by understanding how people take and consume these substances and in what quantities they do so. For example, people abuse Imodium, a common over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medication, and we do not know how much they take to alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms.


Description of the RA position: This project has several phases which I intend for the student to assist with:

Data Gathering and Filtering: I have a dataset from Reddit that is, at this point, 2 years out of date and will need to be regathered. I have a script that the student will modify to gather data from these communities, and then using text analysis, find mentions of substances from the AT list, and sort those into a new dataset.


Dataset Annotation: Working together, the student and I will annotate Reddit posts to create a ground truth dataset of known substances and doing patterns. I will teach the student how to annotate for machine learning models, and we will collaboratively generate an annotation system to accomplish this. This will help us evaluate our accuracy on the next phase of the project.


Medication Dosing Model: The core of the project and the scientific contribution is to identify the patterns of dosing of these substances. The student will build a text processing and machine learning hybrid system to process the text and extract pairs of “substance-dosage amount” concepts from the text. I have several models for the student to begin with, including embedded language models and clinical annotations systems like SNOMED-CT.


My expertise is in large-scale data analysis, applied machine learning, and online health communities. One interesting part of this project is that I am collaborating with a clinician who has expertise in opioid addiction. So, the student will gain experience working with a medical professional who is attuned to opioid addiction, online communities, and technological approaches in this space.

After this work is concluded, I anticipate that we will likely submit this paper for publication in a venue such as CHI (the premier venue in human-computer interaction), ICWSM (premier venue in social media and data mining) or JMIR (a journal for medical internet research). The student will assist in writing this paper and of course be included as a co-author.


Position Expectations: I will be working with the student directly on this project in all aspects. I put students in situations where their skills can shine, providing “early wins” to build confidence in research and enjoyment of the research process. We begin with more straightforward tasks, such as reviewing the literature, data gathering and data annotation that have real benefits in publications. Then, we move together onto the more technically complex and innovative portions of projects – for my work, that is in model construction, data pipeline engineering, and model evaluation.


Time Requirements:  There will be one-on-on, 30 minute weekly meetings for status updates/debugging/course correcting on the research. I am also available to my students via email to solve technical challenges or think through problems.

I also intend to bring the student into the active research development and milestone meetings with my clinical collaborator. The student will practice presenting research material, answering questions, and getting early feedback in these meetings, providing an environment to practice essential research skills.

Last, I will likely run a small “group” meeting for my undergraduate research assistants across this URAP and others, every 2-3 weeks to review progress as a group.


Applicant Prerequisites:  

To screen the students, students should send me their resumes with important information about their coursework, internship or professional experiences, and other information they believe is important.

I will conduct a 30-40 minute, in-person interview discussing the student’s solution to programming problem in python around social media data. I will give the problem to the student 24 hours ahead of time and ask them to complete it to the best of their abilities. The 30 minutes will be spent walking through their solution and having the student verbally explain their thought process to me. In addition to the above screening, I will also look for the following skills for this position:

  • Python programming experience, and experience with pandas, numpy, sk-learn, TensorFlow
  • Coursework or experience in one or more of the following: machine learning; natural language processing, online communities or social media; technology and human interaction; human computer interaction
  • Experience in domain areas outside of computer science is a plus (including linguistics, sociology, psychology, statistics, social policy, etc.
  • Maturity in handling mental illness– students need to be emotionally ready to handle discussions about mental illness and addiction.

Lastly, as a woman in computer science, I recognize the importance of early research opportunities to retain women and underrepresented minorities in the computing field more broadly. I strongly encourage underrepresented groups to apply to this position.


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Project title: OTV Reception Data

Faculty name: AJ Christian

School and Department: SOC, Communication Studies


Faculty Bio: Aymar Jean "AJ" Christian is an associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern University interested in creative industries and cultural studies. His first book, Open TV: Innovation Beyond Hollywood and the Rise of Web Television on New York University Press, argues the web brought innovation to television by opening development to independent producers. His work has been published in numerous academic journals, including The International Journal of Communication, Television & New Media, Cinema Journal, Continuum, and Transformative Works and Cultures. He has juried television and video for the Peabody Awards, Gotham Awards, and Tribeca Film Festival, among others.


Project synopsis: My work asks how new technologies and industry practices shape culture, focusing on the politics of representation as TV transitions from the network era to the networked, or digital, era. To explore the possibility of representing complex identities online and in Hollywood I needed to create my own data set because of systemic inequalities across media sectors.

OTV | Open Television -- -- is a platform distributing TV pilots and series by queer, trans and cis-women and artists of color. This research project investigates how independent organizations can challenge television series development to be more inclusive as it explores the possibilities for community-based arts in the digital age. The OTV platform functions as a television network from the bottom-up, using web distribution to incubate local, emerging artists and propel their careers. OTV 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.

This URAP project focuses on how OTV programs circulate online and in cities, or how programs are exhibited and received. This involves basic audience and textual analysis to determine what themes and frames are most often used and seen as most valuable for representations of historically marginalized communities.


Description of the RA position: One OR two students will be hired; if TWO students are hired, they will split the award amount ($15/hr worked up to $1000/student). Student(s) will be working with a broad of range of data sets related to the exhibition of television and video projects distributed online and in Chicago by my project OTV | Open Television. Primarily students will be coding and organizing data, for example: categorizing websites that embed our projects by target audience; coding the social media profiles of individual OTV projects by post type and style; mapping local, national and global screenings of OTV projects; coding interviews with local and national exhibition partners by theme.


Position Expectations: Students will work with the faculty member and a doctoral student but will work on their own time. A doctoral student will offer basic training after the faculty member provides an overview of each discreet project and task. Deadlines will generally be flexible so long as tasks are concluded within a reasonable time so research can progress. Students will have biweekly meetings with the faculty member to go over work completed and get feedback on their performance. Students will become familiar with basic Excel and the backend of social media websites.


Time Requirements: Students will receive regular feedback through biweekly meetings with the faculty member via video chat or in-person at the faculty’s office. I respect students’ time, allowing for flexibility on deadlines so they are not over-stressed.


Applicant Prerequisites: No prior experience is required as these tasks are less technical and more exercises in basic critical thinking necessary for all undergraduates to have. Students who can show a solid work ethic and who are detail oriented will be preferred. I will be reaching out to listservs from the departments of Radio/TV/Film, Statistics and Communication Studies to reach students interested in creative industries and data. This has proven effective in the past. Candidates will be evaluated based on their interest in the topics, including: television and other arts, social media & other modes of reception, community engagement or marketing, intersectionality (race, gender, sexuality, class, etc.) as it relates to working with data sets.


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Project title: How do school districts learn?

Faculty name: Cynthia Coburn

School and Department: SESP, HDSP


Faculty Bio: I am a sociologist of education who studies policymaking and policy implementation in urban school districts. For the past several years, I have been interested in the relationship between research and policy and practice.


Project synopsis: My goal is to better understand how research ideas make their way into policy (or not) and the factors that support or constrain it. The project proposed here is part of a larger study of instructional decision making in four urban school districts. We are interested in how district leaders use research and other forms of information in their decision making about mathematics and English Language Arts. We are particularly interested in how school district organizational conditions and relationships with external support organizations shape this process. The overall study is of four urban school districts and is mainly focused on analyzing policy making at the school district central office level. The URAP project will focus on two of the four school districts where we have additional interviews with external partners.


Description of the RA position: The URAP project proposed here would investigate how school districts learn from working with outside providers. Increasingly, school districts turn to outside experts to help them with their policy making related to instruction. These outside organizations provide guidance, help design professional development, and sometimes provide interventions with the goal of improving student learning. We want to know when and under what conditions districts are able to productively use the guidance they receive from their external partners? How do they take new ideas and alter their existing ways of doing things? We seek a student to help us answer these questions.


Position Expectations: The student will be involved in two aspects of data analysis for the project. First, we are planning to investigate the ways in which guidance offered by external providers gets incorporated (or not) into district policy and practice, in what form. Second, we plan to analyze the mechanism through which ideas move in and through the district, focusing on the nature of formal and informal interaction between the external providers and district personnel. The first task involves doing content analysis of interview data and district policy documents. The second involves analyzing observational data of meetings between the external partner and district leaders. We have yet to develop the codebook for the second task, so the student will be involved in developing the codebook and calibrating coding with a coding partner. The student will produce a memo presenting the results of their independent analysis in each of the two tasks. They will present the memo to the team to get feedback and inform the overall project. The two data analysis tasks will each take approximately 40 percent of the student’s time. Production of the memos will take approximately 20 percent of the student’s time. The work is collaborative in some phases (learning to code; developing the codebook) and independent in others (independent coding, surfacing key themes and writing analytic memos). The student will need to learn how to do qualitative coding. To learn how to analyze the qualitative data, the student will: 1) read some background research about qualitative data analysis; and 2) work with one of us to learn the coding guide. The student will also do CITI training, as they will be working with human subjects data. They will take part in that training and be included in our IRB for the project.


Time Requirements: The student will participate in bi-weekly meetings between me (the PI), research staff, and two graduate students. Typically, we all bring products related to our work-in-process to these meetings and the student will be expected to do the same, as well as review those products from the rest of us. The student will also meet more regularly with coding partners. Depending upon the analysis, that likely will involve me or the research staff person, but may also involve a graduate student.


Applicant Prerequisites: In addition to advertising the position through the resources of the Office of Undergraduate Research, I will advertise the position through SESP. Specifically, I will ask the advisors for both the Social Policy and Learning and Organizational Change majors to send the position out to students enrolled in the majors. I will also ask faculty members who are currently teaching undergraduates in these majors to share information about the position with their classes. I will also reach out to faculty members in sociology to request that they share information with their undergraduate classes.

I am looking for students who have had some coursework in social policy, learning and organizational change, or sociology. It would be terrific if the student has taken the required field methods course in SESP, but that is not a requirement. I also would consider students who have volunteered, worked, or done their required SESP internship in an education setting (school, nonprofit serving schools, or education policy agency). I am looking for students with genuine curiosity about public schools, strong analytic skills, and the attention to detail that is required for qualitative coding. I am open to hiring students from any year, although I understand and will consider the fact that the goals of the program are more appropriate to freshman and sophomores.

I will request that students apply with a cover letter and resume. I will interview finalists in person. In the past, these interviews have taken about 30 minutes. I will ask students about their interests in education (e.g. what are the key questions that they have about public schooling), the relevant substantive and methodological coursework, any relevant internship or work experiences, prior research experience, and goals for participating in the URAP program. I will select a student that has interest in learning more about public schools, at least some relevant coursework/experiences, and clear desires to develop research skills and ultimately their own research agenda.


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Project title: Mirror at Cahokia: Cosmos and Climate

Faculty name: Abigail Foerstner

School and Department: MSJ, Journalism


Faculty Bio: I teach health, environment and science journalism and multimedia reporting at the undergraduate and graduate level at Medill. I direct the graduate Health, Environment and Science Journalism Specialization as well. I am a Medill alum with a BSJ and MSJ. I wrote for the Chicago Tribune and other publications for more than 30 years and taught at Medill as an adjunct in the 1980s and from 2002-2007. I joined Medill's full-time faculty in 2007. I have written and contributed to several books in science and the visual arts, both areas of constant and continuing reporting in my career. I am currently writing a book on climate and culture, focusing on the ancient American city of Cahokia as a mirror of our times. A 10-story pyramid crowns Cahokia, once a city of 20,000 sprawling at the Mississippi River across from modern-day St. Louis. I join the excavations each summer at the ruins of Cahokia, where dozens of other earthen mounds form cosmological patterns. This boom-to-bust metropolis flourished nearly 1,000 years ago, spurring resplendent arts, massive agricultural production and a religious movement with a cultural reach across much of North America. Like many great cities, it grew to the limits of sustainability and collapsed across periods of social, political and climate upheaval. It is a mirror of our times and what climate can do as we push our modern cities to the limits of sustainability. Unlike the people of Cahokia, we are facing the consequences of forcing our climate into ever more hazardous territory with weather extremes already evident in our own backyard of the Midwest. This book builds on my environmental and science reporting, the urgency to address climate change, and my commitment to mentoring and teaching a new generation of environmental communicators. It seeks to bring to life in an environmental context to a great lost city, the grandest city of ancient North America.


Project synopsis: The Cahokia project interweaves ancient arts, modern archaeology and climate science as ways to evaluate past intersections of culture and climate while looking for clues that inform the present. These are all research interests and reporting strategies developed during my career as a media reporter, researcher, author and teacher.


Description of the RA position: The student researcher will join me as a research assistant for this book, tracking climate patterns and climate clues past and present, following tribal oral histories that trace back to pilgrimages to Cahokia, and looking at the archaeology and data the greater Cahokia area has left behind. Each research activity will serve as a learning experience for the student assistant. The student will participate in interviewing and editing. We also will begin to develop and design a website for the book. The student's research work will be acknowledged in the preface of my book. I will mentor the student's continuing research and potential articles after the position as research assistant is successfully completed.


Position Expectations: I will teach the students skills needed to piece together clues from cultural history, archaeology, oral history and data sets such as tree ring data, a proxy for drought and other climate conditions. The student will receive training at each research step, learning to organize and validate data, explore creative methodologies, fact check, and develop and pursue interviews. Part of each research session will include feedback on previous work completed, a discussion of work to be done, and conversations on issues that arise from the research project, current news, and reports about related research. The student will develop abilities focused on:

--Turning research about the past into sound storytelling

--Organizing research and direct observations in a book

--Strong interviewing strategies

--Analytical skills such as assessing data

--Creative skills for compelling reporting

--Creative skills for visualizing data


Time Requirements: The student researcher can expect to works 6-8 hours a week for 9 weeks each quarter during winter and spring quarters.


Applicant Prerequisites: I am looking for a candidate with a passion for environmental, climate and social justice issues. I will evaluate candidates based on their interest in analyzing climate and culture from a past era to find clues on where climate and culture are taking us now. Candidates who want to learn to take research into narrative storytelling and data into visualizations will find a good fit in this research program.


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Project title: Russian Studies & Comparative Politics

Faculty name: Jordan Gans-Morse

School and Department: WCAS, Political Science


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 project for which I am applying to an URAP grant.


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 students will be hired, and will split the award amount ($15/hr worked up to $1000/student). The students will conduct two tasks. The first will consist of content analysis of articles from political science and comparative politics journals. We will be creating a data set for the years 1977-2017 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 conduct basic analyses using descriptive statistics and help make tables and figures for a journal article.


Position Expectations: 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. To help develop a positive environment, I will at the outset of the project meet individually with each student to learn more about their backgrounds, academic and career goals, and expectations from participation in the URAP program. We will talk explicitly about the ways in which the project can be tailored to support their individual goals.


Time Requirements: Approximately 5-10 hours per week. I will meet with the students on a weekly basis. 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.


Applicant Prerequisites: 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 candidate will be highly attentive to detail and capable of reading and analyzing large amounts of material very rapidly.


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Project title: Movement Amplification

Faculty name: Keith Gordon

School and Department: FSM, 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) understand 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. Currently, Dr. Gordon is engaged in research to try and develop a new rehabilitation robotic device that will be used in a physical therapy to try and improve balance of people recovering from incomplete spinal cord injury.


Project synopsis: We have developed a robotic device that can apply highly controlled forces to a person during walking. We have used this device to study how to create physical therapy intervention for people with incomplete spinal cord injury that facilitate practice and learning of walking balance. We have devised a novel method of challenging balance not currently available in clinics. Our device is capable of amplifying a person’s side-to-side motion during walking. This movement amplification environment increases the challenge to maintain straight-ahead walking in a unique and clinically-relevant way. The current research project will evaluate the effectiveness of walking practice performed in a movement amplification environment on walking balance in individuals with incomplete spinal cord injury. If we find, as hypothesized, that the movement amplification environment is effective for improving walking balance, the results from this study would impact clinical practice and motivate the development of appropriate robotic therapy tools to deliver movement amplification training in clinical setting. The key elements of this project fit with Dr. Gordon’s career interests in designing robotic devices that can help people with neurological or musculoskeletal injuries can use to improve their ability to walk.


Description of the RA position: The student research assistant will be trained to use the 12-camera 3D motion capture acquisition system, force plates, and industry standard biomechanics analysis 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 full body walking kinematics (movements), and ground reaction forces. 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. Finally, the research assistant will modify and utilize custom written Matlab scripts to calculate group statics and summarize performance changes across conditions. In addition the student will participate in a weekly lab meeting and attend relevant bimonthly seminars hosted by the Department of Physical Therapy & Human Movement Sciences. I expect the student to present a component of their research at our laboratory meetings and ultimately to the field at a regional meeting. Through participation in the laboratory, the student will also interact regularly with current graduate students. This informal environment will provide the student with additional opportunities to learn about how a research laboratory operates and how to advance in the field. 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, physical therapy, and careers in medicine. 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.


Position Expectations: My goal is to expose and educate the student about research and help them develop skills that will make them a competitive applicant to PhD programs, or physical therapy/medical school. The student will have many learning opportunities. The student will meet weekly with myself to discuss research goals and progress. In addition, the student and I will discuss relevant literature with the goal that this background reading can help the student understand the importance of their work within the fields of Physical Therapy and Biomedical Engineering. The student will also work closely with members of the lab's research team (graduate students, research engineer, and physical therapist) to collect, analyze and interpret human subject data. The research engineer will train the student to use the equipment. The physical therapist will train the student on aspects of working with human subjects including conduct and ethics. The graduate students will work with the research assistant to develop custom software to analyze the data. Collectively, the lab members work to create a positive mentoring environment through a culture of respect. Our laboratory brings together people with diverse experiences and knowledge. We recognize that this diversity makes us a stronger research team. We value listening to each other and incorporating input from all our lab members to enhance the overall work our group produces.


Time Requirements: 6-8 hours per week. The laboratory is located on the Chicago campus. Students would be expected to be able to travel to the laboratory.


Applicant Prerequisites: The ideal candidate will have career interests related to biomechanical analysis of human movement, human-robot interactions, and/or physical therapy. Candidates will most likely be students from biomedical or mechanical engineering, computer science, or premed. Experience using Matlab and/or LabVIEW is be highly desirable. Previous research experience is not required for this position.

We will evaluate students using the following criteria; 1) career interests in research that align with the pursuits of the laboratory, 2) previous experience using basic programming languages, and 3) interest in continuing to work with our laboratory beyond the summer term. We will give preference to students who have not previously worked in a research setting. We will evaluate applications (transcript and cover letter) and then do in-person interviews with select students.


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Project title: Black Women TV News Managers

Faculty name: Ava Greenwell

School and Department: Medill/ Journalism


Faculty Bio: Ava Thompson Greenwell, Ph.D. has taught video journalism classes at Northwestern University since 1993 and has held several administrative posts, including associate dean. Her research interest focuses on the intersection of race, gender and journalism. She is co-director of Medill’s South Africa Journalism Residency Program and is currently in the final stages of production on a documentary about Chicago’s anti-apartheid movement, for which she received a URAP in 2017. Prior to teaching, she worked as a reporter at WFLA-TV in Tampa, FL; WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, MN; and WEHT-TV in Evansville, IN. She has also done freelance work for WGN-TV, Chicago and WTTW-TV, Chicago Tonight. She has mentored hundreds of students, including some who work in network news. She is writing a book about the experiences of black women television news managers based on her dissertation research.


Project synopsis: According to one study, 40 percent of Americans aged 12 and above said they had listened to a podcast in 2017. Predictions are that the percentage will continue to rise. How have scholars and researchers of journalism studies taking advantage of this growing popularity as a teaching tool? What makes scholarly podcasts engaging to young adult learners? The URAP student will help research and analyze the scholarly podcast landscape while contributing to the formation of a new series of podcasts to accompany a book on the history and experiences of black women television news managers. Student may be involved with producing the podcast episodes during spring 2020.


Description of the RA position: URAP student will help analyze the podcast market focused on academic research. The findings will help frame the purpose of the podcast series in context with other scholarly podcasts in the market. The student will be tasked with finding scholarly podcasts that focus on any of the following categories: women in the journalism profession, African Americans in the journalism profession, black women in journalism, black women in broadcast journalism, black women television news managers, black women in other professions such as law, medicine, education and other women of color in journalism or other professions.  We will focus on the top five most downloaded podcasts to analyze.


Position Expectations: The URAP student will work with other work study students to analyze several episodes of each podcast for content, style, engagement, teachability and length. The student will meet weekly with me to discuss strategy and findings.


Time Requirements:  Student will work 6-7 hours per week identifying appropriate podcasts, listening to selected podcasts and analyzing those podcasts.


Applicant Prerequisites:  Student must be interested in the intersection of race and gender in the journalism profession. Students should demonstrate their interest with a short statement explaining their interest in the topic. If you’ve taken a class (or plan to take a class), attended a conference, made an observation or are just curious, include that rationale in the 2-3 sentence statement.


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Project title: Torque Perceptual Accuracy while Lifting

Faculty name: Netta Gurari

School and Department: FSM, PTHMS


Faculty Bio: Dr. Gurari directs the Robotics and Sensorimotor Control Lab at Northwestern University, which is comprised of a multidisciplinary research team that is investigating how humans perceive somatosensory signals at their upper limbs. This research is executed through behavioral studies and is achieved by integrating tools and knowledge from areas including robotics, cognitive neuroscience, electrophysiology, neuroimaging, and physical therapy. Dr. Gurari brings a unique perspective to this research area given her formal training in and knowledge of robotics, psychophysics testing, neuropathophysiology, sensory substitution, electrophysiology, biophysical signal processing, and clinical care. Dr. Gurari received her B.S.E. degree in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania, received her M.S.E. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University, and completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Robotics, Brain, and Cognitive Sciences unit at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia. Dr. Gurari’s notable achievements include receiving approximately 1.5 million dollars as a PI from seven unique sources of academic funding, conducting research on three continents in three different languages, archiving her findings in engineering-focused and neuroscience-focused publications, and presenting her research globally. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering Dean’s Fellowship. Since 2018, she is the Principal Investigator of a five-year NIH Career Development Award.


Project synopsis: The project described here is part of our lab’s overall aim to understand why individuals may have inaccurate torque perception, particularly post-hemiparetic stroke. Our previous research has demonstrated how accurately individuals match elbow torques about a single joint during a between-arms task, and more recently a single-arm task. However, it remains unclear how accurately individuals can match torques about their elbow during a multi-joint task, which has more implications for daily activities. Therefore, this project will provide valuable information on whether individuals can effectively perceive their elbow torques during everyday tasks that require the lifting of their arm. Results from this project will serve as a foundation for our future endeavors in developing new rehabilitation approaches for individuals post-hemiparetic stroke.


Description of the RA position: The student will work closely with Dr. Netta Gurari and PhD Student, May Cai, in investigating how accurately individuals perceive a torque at a single joint during a multi-joint task. The student will be involved primarily with data collection and analyses. The student may be asked to assist with participant recruitment and manuscript writing. Given the nature of human subject research, the student will gain interpersonal skills through their interactions with participants. Additionally, the student will have an opportunity to become familiarized with the basic technical knowledge of analog and digital data acquisition as the experimental setup uses a mechatronic device with multiple sensors. Time-permitting, the student will be encouraged to assist in the write-up of a manuscript summarizing the work.


Position Expectations: The student will be asked to complete the Institutional Review Board training before interacting with human subjects. The student should have good communication and organization skills and an interest in working with people. The student is encouraged to interact and communicate with Dr. Netta Gurari and May Cai to address questions that arise during the project. The equipment that the student will learn how to use includes torque sensors, EMG electrodes, and the software used for data collection. Additionally, the student will be trained in how to analyze data using the statistical software, R.


Time Requirements: A typical experiment session lasts around 4 hours. Therefore, the student will be expected to come into the office for 4 hours at a time, at least once per week. The student will also meet with the faculty mentor weekly for project updates. Dr. Netta Gurari and May Cai both have an open-door policy so the student can feel comfortable directly approaching them.


Applicant Prerequisites: The ideal student should have taken one or more courses in psychology, physiology, neuroscience, or biomedical engineering. The student should be passionate and willing to work with individuals who have had a stroke. Experience with human behavioral experiments is preferred, but not required.


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Project title: Emotion in Relationships

Faculty name: Claudia Haase

School and Department: SESP, Human Development and Social Policy


Faculty Bio: I am a life-span developmental psychologist. My research program examines age-related changes, sources, and consequences of individual differences in emotion and motivation across the life span in individuals and couples. My work uses multiple methods (i.e., rating dials, behavioral observations, autonomic physiology, genotyping, structural neuroimaging, questionnaires), diverse study designs (e.g., experimental and longitudinal), and single-subjects as well as dyadic approaches. Much of my research has been devoted to understanding how basic paradigms and insights from affective, relationship, and motivation science can be used to understand adaptive development across the life span. More recently, I have started to apply this knowledge to examine psycho- and neuropathology across the life span, including psychopathology in adolescence and young adulthood (i.e., youth at ultra-high risk for the development of psychosis) and neurodegenerative disease in late life (i.e., Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia).


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.


Position Expectations: The student has four major sources of mentorship. First, the student meets regularly with me to discuss their research interests, career goals and how this experience can help them in this direction, and feedback on projects, analyses, and proposals. Second, students work throughout the week with graduate students who train, supervise, and mentor undergraduate students on a day-to-day basis. Third, undergraduate students are highly collaborative in our lab. For instance, there are multiple pairs of students who are working on group projects within the larger ongoing work we do. From these collaborations, students have been accepted to present posters at professional conferences, like the American Psychological Association (APS), Society for Affective Science (SAS), and Midwestern Association for Psychological Science. Finally, we hold weekly lab meetings where students and visitors regularly present on their research projects. From these mentorship networks, students receive continue feedback on their work through both verbal and written feedback on literature reviews, developing research questions, and communicating research concepts. Our lab prioritizes cultivating positive mentoring environments for our students through open lines of communication with myself and graduate students, encouraging collaborations across undergraduate students, and providing clear expectations for undergraduate research assistants. Undergraduate students also work very closely with graduate student mentors who have experience collaborating with undergraduate students and have mentored undergraduates on applying for URGs and senior theses.


Time Requirements: The student will participate in weekly lab meetings and regular meetings with me where we share work and have discussions about research challenges and accomplishments.


Applicant Prerequisites: I review each application with my graduate students. We are particularly interested in students in their freshman or sophomore year who are bright, dedicated, reliable, and interested in the study of emotion, relationships, and developmental psychology.


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Project title: Trace of Time - Research/Edit Assistant

Faculty name: Kyle Henry

School and Department: SOC, Radio, TV, Film


Faculty Bio: Kyle Henry’s feature narrative directing debut Room premiered at both the Sundance and Cannes film festivals and was nominated for two Film Independent Spirit Awards. His feature documentary University Inc., about the corporatization of higher education, and American Cowboy, about a gay rodeo champ, received wide festival play. His most recent film, the partially devised fiction feature Rogers Park, premiered at the 2017 Chicago International Film Festival, then toured theatrically throughout North America, garnering a New York Times Critics’ Pick as well as a 100% Fresh rating on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. He's also the editor of 15 feature fiction and documentary films for other directors.


Project synopsis: I'm looking for an editorial and research assistant on my new personal essay documentary in development, tentatively entitled Trace of Time. The film uses archival footage, animation, documentary shoots and reenactments to construct the life of an ordinary American woman, my mother Elaine Jeannette Henry, throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century. Subdivided into chapters that are paired with major historical events, the film will trace the arc of a life as seen through what she's created and left behind in media traces as she faces her final years as a dementia patient. All of my work deals with individuals, organizations and societies in crisis, and although personal, the current project will explore why losing our connection to our personal histories will potentially only acerbate current cultural crisis if we don't find ways to explore and link these personal histories to major cultural and societal change. I'm currently a Kaplan Institute for the Humanities fellow, and this project is being completed partially as part of that fellowship.


Description of the RA position: The student will be a researcher and collaborator, helping construct working prototypes of various sequence and chapter ideas. Duties include: capturing, digitizing, logging, organizing and arranging a large photo and object archive into both a searchable database and a Premiere project file; working with myself and a graduate student assistant on assigned sequences to edit in Premiere; adding their creative input on developing ideas for project chapters.


Position Expectations: The student will be required to report on progress for each work session via a Goggle Doc log, which I will review weekly and offer additional written feedback. The student will walk away from the project will vital skills on how to tackle long-form creative projects in post-production editing environments. I begin and end each research period with informal lunches with all my assistants to learn more about their individual goals to make sure that they have space to learn and grow with the position in the direction they want to go. Myself and a graduate student assistant will train student researchers. I hired two graduate students and one undergraduate during the Summer 2019, who created many guides and templates that the student will use as reference.


Time Requirements: 6-10hrs/wk. The student will meet weekly for 1 hour with myself and the graduate assistant for discussion and assignments, then work on their own completing these assignments. In between these meetings, myself and the graduate assistant will also be available for additional training on both Premiere and general film editing/research strategies.


Applicant Prerequisites: Required: RTVF 190 Media Construction. Not required, but desirable: RTVF 372 Intro to Editing. Also, the student if necessary will conduct paid remedial training on Premiere techniques with Lynda online learning application.


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Project title: Mirror of the Soul

Faculty name: Katherine Hoffman

School and Department: WCAS, Anthropology & MENA Studies


Faculty Bio: Katherine E. Hoffman is a linguistic, legal, and sociocultural anthropologist who conducts qualitative research (participant observation, interviews, legal research, and discourse analysis) as well as historical archival analysis. An Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Middle East and North African Studies Program, she specializes in the relationship between ethnicity, law, history, political economy, and expressive culture. Her research explores this nexus primarily in North Africa and France from the late 19th c. to the present, particularly as it has been shaped by the processes of French colonialism, antiimperialism, nationalism, and postnationalism. She has published two books, the ethnography We Share Walls: Language, Land and Gender in Berber in the Maghrib (Wiley 2008), the edited volume Berbers and Others (Indiana 2010) and is drafting another, Mirror of the Soul: Language, Islam, and Law in French Native Policy of Morocco (1912 ‐ 1956), in addition to scholarly articles and research reports on customary, state and Islamic law in Morocco, and on song and talk among Moroccan Imazighen. Hoffman’s last fieldwork project in North Africa, Revolution’s Refugees, examined the co-existence of two groups of Imazighen (Berbers) during the uprisings around the so-called Arab Spring and the Libyan Civil War of 2011-2012: Libyan refugees from the Nalut region and their rural Tunisian hosts in the Tataouine and Djerba island areas. More recently, Dr. Hoffman has begun her research project Regimes of Care based in France and the U.S., grounded primarily in interviews with adoptive parents and discourse analysis of legal, administrative, and political texts concerning transnational families created through fostering and adoption. The RA will primarily work on the project Mirror of the Soul.


Project synopsis: Mirror of the Soul is a book manuscript of anthropological and historiographical scholarship that has incrementally taken form over the last decade. The key scholarly intervention the book makes concerns the effects of French empire and the danger of ethnonationalist narratives in multiethnic, multilingual, and legally plural states that erase the meaningful social institutions of minority populations like the Amazigh people of North Africa. For social historians, anthropologists of law and gender, scholars of material culture, and regionalist scholars, the book will offer rich insight into the materiality and legal ideologies of individuals whose life chances were highly gendered in an historical moment of heavy male out-migration and rising religious consciousness, prior to the spread of mass education that led to language shift of Tamazight-speaking populations towards Arabic. For a wider readership, the project provides a lens by which to examine gendered and ethnic inequalities and social justice in the courtroom, relevant not only to contemporary Morocco but to other multiethnic states. The book takes an intellectual risk in positioning customary courts as sites of dynamic group-internal dispute resolution. Scholars of French colonialism and North Africa typically know the May 16, 1930 decree that established the customary courts -- known as the "Berber dahir" -- as an impetus for the increasingly vocal anticolonial movement. Often forgotten in celebrations of Moroccan resistance to the French are those Moroccans who were marginalized by the nationalists' Arabist orientation. Whatever Protectorate authorities intended from "Berber policy" (a question my book explores), court documents show that rural populations – and notably women -- relied on them to issue deeds, register life cycle events, and resolve disputes.


Description of the RA position: Two students will be hired, and will split the award amount ($15/hr worked up to $1000/student). The RAs will assist with analysis of primary archival sources from French colonial Morocco as well  as secondary sources on North African law, gender, and ethnicity. The RAs will also analyze colonial court documents (in French and Arabic) and prepare summaries and charts. They will also collect books and articles from the library and internet, compile bibliographies, proofread, edit, maintain Endnote database, sort, organize and file, and photocopy.  The students will be responsible for procuring materials from the library or interlibrary loan, making scans and photocopies when necessary, and posting research findings to a shared Google drive.


Position Expectations: Bi-weekly meetings, tight organization of tasks, and solid time management skills will be part of the mentoring. I assign materials to RAs that I've authored to help them understand the research and together identify gaps or areas where additional data is needed. I alone will oversee the students.


Time Requirements: Approximately 10 hrs/week; very flexible schedule. The students and I will have bi-weekly meetings, possibly weekly for the first few months. We will together establish clear expectations and break the tasks down into manageable chunks for each two-week section.


Applicant Prerequisites: I will post an ad with the Work-Study office, request that it be delivered on listservs in Anthropology, MENA studies, Legal Studies, and French as soon as project approved. I will also advertise through the URAP staff. Students will be evaluated through in-person interview or skype with mentor only. Decision ASAP. I will ask about research background, papers researched for courses, familiarity with electronic databases, languages, etc. I will be looking to assess individual initiative, evidence of ability to work independently and manage time well, interest in project. Preference for experience or coursework on MENA region and/or Europe, and/or law and anthropology. French and/or Arabic reading skills highly desirable (speaking skills not necessary).


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Project title: JIG

Faculty name: Terry Horton

School and Department: WCAS, Anthropology


Faculty Bio: As a human biologist I am an interdisciplinary scientist. I use the theories and techniques of anthropology, behavioral endocrinology, ecology, evolution, physiology, and psychology to investigate the mechanisms by which organisms, including humans, adapt to their environment.

I use my knowledge and skills to conduct studies that speak directly to the question of how the environment influences human health and well-being. Although much necessary and important research has documented the negative effects of the environment on health (e.g., brownfields, air pollution, lead contamination), researchers have only relatively recently focused on documenting the salutary effects of high quality green and blue spaces to mental and physical health. The current project uses qualitative and quantitative methods to test the hypothesis that access to natural landscapes contributes to improved health, well-being, and resilience of humans and offers a means to overcome trauma.


Project synopsis: The people studied in the current project are military veterans participating in a job training program, the Veterans Internship Program (VIP), at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Military veterans face many challenges when transitioning from active duty to civilian life. Many veterans suffer from trauma-related physical and mental health problems which impair their employment prospects. Even without trauma-related problems, veterans often find it difficult to find a job in the civilian sector. It is often difficult to translate skills learned in the military into civilian counterparts, which may lead to stress and anxiety.

Engaging with nature has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in numerous studies, including recent publications of my own. We hypothesize that the physical and mental health benefits of engaging with nature as part of the VIP will reduce stress and anxiety resulting in improved social networks, coping skills, and self-efficacy. By mapping the components of the CBG-VIP to a conceptual framework for Military to Civilian Workplace Transitions we plan to identify mechanisms, including engagement with nature, that may enhance the reintegration of veterans into civilian life.


Description of the RA position: Two students will be hired, and will split the award amount ($15/hr worked up to $1000/student). The data for this project has been collected. The role of the students in this project will be to use qualitative methods to analyze the transcripts of the interviews conducted with the participants and to integrate the data with quantitative data derived from psychometric surveys and biomarker assays. The students will participate in regular group meetings to learn how to integrate their portion of the project into the larger fabric of the project. They will be taught how to read original research papers and discuss them in a group setting. The students will be trained in the use of the text analysis software Atlas.ti and how to use a coding scheme to identify themes present in the interviews. They will also be trained in how to retrieve data from the Qualtrics Survey platform and use quantitative analysis methods to summarize those results. They will be taught how to prepare a short written report and a poster appropriate for an on campus research presentation. Also, because they will be working with data that constitutes human subjects research, they will take the CITI online training about ethical research and the appropriate use of humans in research.


Position Expectations: The students will be trained by Dr. Horton and Mr. Arseniy Minasov, the laboratory's research coordinator. They will have regularly scheduled meetings at which they receive instruction. They will also be expected to use the Lynda/LinkedIn learning system which provides training for several of the software programs used in the laboratory.


Time Requirements: The time commitment for the project is expected to be 8-10 hours per week; if divided between two students, that amounts to 4-5 hours per week/student for approximately 16 weeks.


Applicant Prerequisites: Students from either anthropology, psychology, or the environmental studies program are encouraged to apply, but applications from students in other majors are welcomed. Successful candidates should be interested in learning how to conduct research on the role of the environment on mental and physical health. Candidates should submit a brief resume and 500 word writing sample describing why they are interested in participating in conducting research in general and participating in this project specifically. Evidence of experience with common computer software (e.g. Microsoft Excel, Word, and Powerpoint), and an interest in developing an independent research project in the future are required.


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Project title: Mapping Landscape

Faculty name: Matthew Johnson

School and Department: WCAS, Anthropology


Faculty Bio: I work on the archaeology and history of Europe and the Atlantic world. I have written six books on a range of themes, including castles, traditional houses, landscape, and an archaeology of capitalism. My best known book is an introduction to archaeological theory. I have also written more widely on interdisciplinary and interpretive approaches, understanding medieval and historical archaeology, and archaeology in its cultural context. I have received a Guggenheim fellowship to write a book on the archaeology of the English in the Atlantic world in the second millennium CE. The proposed research is in connection with the development of visual material, particularly maps, for this book.


Project synopsis: I am writing a ‘big book’ on settlement and landscape in the British Isles and north Atlantic, c.1000-1800CE. This is a five-year project, starting June 2019. The book will move from English settlement in North America, to the landscapes of 17th century England and her neighbors, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, to medieval antecedents in the landscape (towns, roads, rural settlement, buildings such as churches and castles), back to early medieval and Roman origins. Central to the book will be development of a series of maps. These will represent visually processes of landscape formation, and distributions of different settlement types.


Description of the RA position: The production of the maps for this project present theoretical and technical challenges. The maps will need to be informed by debates over ideology, cartography (for example, do they emphasize physical geography, or ethnic/national boundaries? Maritime versus land features? Orientation – seeing the North Atlantic from the north or the south?) Production of these maps will also be a challenging technical exercise. Much relevant data is easily downloadable, for example from Historic England or from the British Ordnance Survey. However, the book emphasizes the British Isles/Atlantic archipelago as a whole, so the data presented will need to span national boundaries, for example between England and Ireland, is order to visually represent and to probe critical links and differences between regions. This is challenging as the administration of records has devolved to Ireland after 1921, and to Wales and Scotland after 1974, so the databases are not easily comparable or downloadable into identical categories. I will work with the student, then, to: a)interrogate the theory and ideology behind map production; b)apply this to the wider arguments of the book, particularly the way ideas of cultural identity are embedded in landscape; and c)work back-and-forth between the technical difficulties of digital map production and wider interpretive questions. The student can work in my second office, a room with three desks also used by my two graduate students. I do not hold regular formal research group meetings, but I will facilitate informal interaction with my two students currently housed there and working on relevant material.


Position Expectations: The selected student will come with prior knowledge of GIS. I will work with the student to a)facilitate their gaining access to relevant databases and archives of material, b)introduce them/extend their knowledge in interpretive issues around maps and their presentation, and c)the background archaeology and history of the British Isles in its landscape context.  The student may find it helpful to take my 319 Material Life and Culture course in Winter Quarter, and will also get some taste of the potentials and challenges of the project by reading this blog posting:


Time Requirements:  We will meet every two weeks during term time to discuss progress and review materials in preparation. The student will develop their GIS and mapmaking skills, but also learn how to address research questions through visual material and reflect back in turn on those questions.


Applicant Prerequisites:  I will ask students to submit a CV, work sample (ideally including maps or other visual material), and short statement of interest. I will shortlist and interview 2-3 students, with reference to the following criteria: Essential attributes: some knowledge of GIS and digital illustration packages; some interest in archaeology and history of British Isles in its Atlantic context Desirable attributes: deeper knowledge and experience of GIS etc, for example its use in projects for other courses; some prior knowledge of archaeology and history of the British Isles; intention to go on to further research; ability to work both independently and as part of a team.


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Project title: Reactive step training

Faculty name: Katherine Martinez

School and Department: FSM, Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences


Faculty Bio: I am an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences and a clinician with a specialization in Neurologic Physical Therapy. My primary responsibilities are teaching in our Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. I have recently completed my PhD and am working on developing my research path by collecting data to seek funding in the future. Balance problems are a common issue for person with neurologic dysfunction and it affects all aspects of their lives. Clinical treatment intervention has focused on proactive balance with little emphasis on reactive postural control, yet reactive protective stepping is a common strategy used in everyday life to maintain upright balance. Persons with neurological dysfunction present with a variety of altered postural responses that impact their functional balance. One common deficit is the decreased ability to rapidly move their feet to catch their body after a perturbation. The focus of my research is on reactive protective stepping responses in person with neurological dysfunction and methods to enhance the effectiveness of their reactive postural control.


Project synopsis: Limited information on perturbation-induced protective stepping shows that persons post stroke tend to step more often with their stronger leg. Evidence from my previous studies has suggested that decreasing the weight on the weaker leg can increase the stepping response with the weaker leg. The purpose of this study is to assess the feasibility of a training paradigm to facilitate stepping with the weaker leg after a perturbation. The ability to step with either leg will enhance the postural response of individuals post stroke by increasing their ability to respond with either leg. We also hypothesize that this training will carry over to the subjects walking ability.


Description of the RA position: 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 session. During pre and post data collections the research assistant will run the motion capture acquisition system and/or the perturbation device. 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 and center of pressure trajectories to evaluate the postural response. During the training sessions the research assistant will be expected to assist in the training protocol and operation of the perturbation device or motion camera system. After each session the student will participate in the post session debrief with faculty mentor and other research assistants. If the student has experience with MatLab they could modify and utilize custom MatLab scripts for further analysis of data. This research experience will provide several valuable and rare learning opportunities for undergraduate students interested 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, 3) apply classroom engineering principles to perform biomechanical analysis of human movement, and 4) work with other disciplines and patient populations.


Position Expectations: The student will be oriented and trained by myself and a research engineer, Tara Cornwell. Ms. Cornwell is supported by the department to assist the DPT faculty with their research. She has a BS in Biomedical Engineering and Global Health and has trained many of the DPT students in use of the lab equipment. Although Ms. Cornwell will be doing most of the initial lab training I will be the primary person responsible for overseeing and supervising the student. I believe working in a team  requires good open communication that is both verbal and non-verbal, therefore I look and listen for both. I typically meet with students formally on a weekly basis, informally daily. I encourage people to ask questions and offer suggestions. I like to learn about student’s background when they are ready to share as it often adds to the comfort level of the relationship. Student will have an opportunity to attend two different lab meetings were research ideas are discussed and preliminary results presented. These meetings include senior researchers as well as research assistances and students. The student will have an opportunity to attend our monthly research seminars as well as seminars at Shirley Ryan Ability Lab and Northwestern Medicine if the topic is of interest to the student.


Time Requirements: 6 to 8 hours per week, once or twice per week. During testing we would like the student to be on the Chicago campus twice a week during the day. Lab meetings typically are 1-1.5hrs and occur weekly in the afternoon.


Applicant Prerequisites: I am looking for a student who is interested in rehabilitation research for people with disabilities. This position will be ideal for students who are interested in pursuing a career in physical therapy, medicine, or biomedical research. We are looking for someone with good attention to details, organized, flexible, reliable, with good communication skills. Ability to explain themselves clearly and concisely, to actively listen and ask questions to address the issues at hand, flexibility in thinking and management of time and task, open to feedback and to contribute ideas. Experience with Matlab would be helpful but not required.


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Project title: Joint movement coding in infants

Faculty name: Theresa Moulton

School and Department: FSM, Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences


Faculty Bio: I am an alumnus of Northwestern and study movement in children and infants - both those with and without brain injuries early in life. My background in physical therapy and biomedical engineering comes together in quantifying movements to learn more about the underlying neuroscience.


Project synopsis: Two dimensional videos can be easily collected in clinic by a variety of disciplines, or even at home by parents using something as simple as a cell phone camera. Children who require a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stay are at higher risk of developmental problems including cerebral palsy. Between 12-16 weeks after the infant's due date, we are able to tell with a high degree of accuracy if the child is at high risk for cerebral palsy, using a video recording and an assessment tool called the General Movement Assessment. This assessment uses a gestalt - or overall impression of motion and the quality of motion viewed at these critical time points. However, there are also other potentially sensitive markers of the integrity of the nervous system in looking at particular motions at individual joints of the body. The area of the central nervous system responsible for fine motions of the hands and feet is often injured in cerebral palsy, so we will be tracking the frequency and duration of several motions related to this brain area. We hypothesize that individuals at risk of cerebral palsy, or who go on to develop cerebral palsy, will have a different movement repertoire compared to those with typical development. We also anticipate that infants with cerebral palsy will couple or combine subsets of these motions in repetitive ways. This project fits into our overall research interests as we are interested in learning more about brain injury in infants and how this affects their movements. This study will help us to narrow the choices of movements to track or evaluate as a marker of nervous system function, and can serve as the earliest test of differences between children with and without cerebral palsy.


Description of the RA position: The student would be a part of the lab team which includes the three professors from the PALS (Pediatric Assessment Laboratory) lab. The student will be able to participate in lab meetings and will have the opportunity to join us for optional trainings and networking events related to the assessment tool we will be using in our study. Specifically the student will be expected to: 1) Maintain ethics training to be a study team member on the IRB. 2) Load videos into V-Note software and view them to identify specific behaviors of the infant in the video. Behaviors will be marked during their occurrence at different joints of the body. 3) Export the timings and durations of these behaviors from V-Note and summarize for analysis.


Position Expectations: Myself and my colleague Colleen Peyton will train and oversee the student. We will provide the student with access to training materials for the software, and a description of each movement to be coded. We will complete examples of coding together, and then regularly review codes that the students as applied. We will also have the student complete CITI training to be a part of the IRB. The student will focus on developing skills in movement observation and manipulation of data from a scientific perspective, and will focus on communication skills and professional interactions within the context of the laboratory setting.


Time Requirements:  We will meet with students on a regular basis throughout the experience, on average bi-weekly. This may occur with greater frequency early in the experience as the student comes up to speed on the goals of the project and the process for completing the work. We are available via email at any time, and can be available for in person meetings at the request of the student if they encounter any difficulties in between set meeting times. On average, the student should expect to spend 5-10 hours/week on this project.


Applicant Prerequisites:  We will recruit students (of any undergraduate background) who are interested in infants, families and development. It would be an advantage to be detail oriented, but all training will occur within the role. We plan to interview students in order to evaluate their interest, background, and to explain their role on our team.


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Project title: Enforcing the Rights Revolution

Faculty name: Quinn Mulroy

School and Department: SESP, Human Development and Social Policy


Faculty Bio: I am a political scientist working in the fields of social policy, law and society, political analysis, and American political development. At its core, my research agenda centers substantively on the study of inequality (racial, economic, and gender) through the lens of the policies, state-society relationships, and political institutions that reinforce and/or challenge its persistence in American politics. Using a mixed set of methodological approaches - including historical analyses of archival materials, ethnographic observation, interviewing, survey experiments, and statistical analysis – I am engaged in several ongoing projects exploring the political development of social policy addressing inequality and the often informal, hidden, and unintended modes of enforcement that are crafted by those who implement it.


Project synopsis: I am interested in hiring a research assistant who will help conduct data analysis for one project in its data-collection and analysis phase, and for one project in its publication preparation stage. Both of these projects are broadly related to themes of inequality, and more specifically, examine the implementation of social policies aimed at addressing inequalities in education, employment, and housing opportunity.

Project 1: “Fighting for eQuality” (hereafter “Project 1”). This analysis, spanning 1973 - 2016, will focus on the entire history of a federal agency, the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), that was charged with disrupting postsecondary educational inequalities through the investment in projects that expand education opportunities to underrepresented groups. This agency had a uniquely flexible statutory authority to behave like a private foundation, allowing the agency to respond to innovative avenues for educational change. FIPSE’s mandate and its unorthodox organizational features provide an apt setting in which to examine, across distinct political eras, changing patterns in government action on this important policy and its relation to the agency’s intended and actual beneficiaries in terms of race and class. This project will contribute to work in the field of policy studies that analyzes the shifting historical relationships between the distribution of policy benefits and changing conceptions of deservingness among underserved students. I am conducting this project with a graduate student coauthor in the Human Development and Social Policy program, Heather McCambly.


Project 2: My forthcoming book, Agents of Litigation: How the American Bureaucracy Leverages Private Legal Power to Make Policy Work (Oxford University Press), explores how administrators in civil rights and environmental agencies – constrained by mid-20th Century legislative compromises denying them adequate administrative powers or resources – developed innovative and entrepreneurial strategies to mobilize private citizens to bring lawsuits against policy violators in the courts. Using in-depth archival analysis of agency, presidential, and congressional materials, this research project seeks to better explain how civil rights protection actually works – and doesn’t work – in the U.S., opening our eyes to the ways in which the American state leverages and mobilizes the private regulatory power of citizens in securing rights.


Description of the RA position: I am seeking the research assistance of an undergraduate student on two separate projects that examine the implementation of policies addressing gender and racial inequality. Through these projects, the student will be trained in qualitative and quantitative data methods, including data collection, development of qualitative coding schemes, use of qualitative and quantitative data management software (NVIVO, Dedoose, and STATA), analysis of archival data, and preparing manuscripts for publication. The student will provide research assistance on two main projects, at two different stages of the research process.

In the first project, we are conducting an in-depth examination of the political history and relevant policy outcomes of a federal education grantmaking agency (FIPSE) from 1973 to the present. We are in the process of compiling a comprehensive corpus of archival congressional and agency documents which will help us provide a historical, qualitative content analysis of the patterns of government action on issues of inequality in higher education. In the second project, a book manuscript that is in its final stages of preparation, I examine how administrators in civil rights and environmental agencies – constrained by mid-20th Century legislative compromises denying them adequate administrative powers or resources – developed innovative and entrepreneurial strategies to mobilize private citizens to bring lawsuits against policy violators in the courts. At its core, this research project, seeks to better explain how rights protection actually works – and doesn’t work – in the U.S.

On Project 1, the student research assistant will aid in data collection and analysis and work with our research team to code archival documents using a collaboratively designed codebook - a process in which the student will play a pivotal role and receive close guidance and attention (~70% of time). The student will also be an active participant in research meetings and will have the opportunity to contribute substantively to discussions of themes, analytical approaches, theory-building, and calibrating coding processes (~10% of time).

On Project 2, the student research assistant will help to prepare a book manuscript for final submission, aiding in the indexing and editing process (~20% of time).


Position Expectations: The student will be working exclusively with archival policy data and as such will not require IRB approval or training. The student will be working intensively in the research database ProQuest Congressional and the coding softwares NVIVO and Dedoose to participate in qualitative content analysis. The student will receive training and mentoring in using the database and NVIVO and Dedoose from the graduate student working on this project, and will apprentice with both myself and the graduate student as they learn both systems. As the student meets with our team on a weekly basis, they will learn about our research design process, the principles underlying archival policy analysis, and will have opportunities to observe and participate in our deliberations about how to expand or constrict the scope of the project.


Time Requirements: The student research assistant will work closely with me (and the graduate student co-author, Heather McCambly, on Project 1) on developing this project and contributing to the early stages of framing, data analysis, and application of theory. On Project 1, we have regular weekly group research meetings at which we discuss our progress, review data collection and coding decisions, address research questions, offer training on new methodological approaches, and allow for conversation on the direction of the project. Given that the student will be engaged in qualitative coding and theory development, s/he will have a good deal of discretion to make important, independent decisions regarding the project. For instances in which the student does not feel fully comfortable making such decisions, our weekly scheduled meetings will provide opportunity to address concerns, questions, or any aspects of the work that the student finds challenging.


Applicant Prerequisites:  The ideal mentee for this project need not yet have extensive qualitative research training; rather, the student should be enthusiastic to learn more about qualitative coding, archival analysis, and developing methodological strategies to trace ideological and partisan patterns of development on inequality policy over time. There is not any required coursework for the position, but given the extensive methodological training that I plan to engage in with the student, candidates in their sophomore or junior years would be preferred - in other words, I am most excited to hire a student with whom I can continue to work (on my research projects or the student’s own independent research projects) after this year. The ideal candidate would also have substantive interest in politics, social policy, and issues in racial and gender inequality as those will be the substantive focus of the project.


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Project title: Billionaires in Politics

Faculty name: Stephen Nelson

School and Department: WCAS, Political Science


Faculty Bio: Stephen Nelson is an Associate Professor of Political Science. He is the author of the award-winning book The Currency of Confidence: How Economic Beliefs Shape the IMF’s Relationship with Its Borrowers (Cornell University Press, 2017) and a number of articles and book chapters. In his book and related article he used information on top-level economic policymakers’ backgrounds to generate an indicator for whether policymakers were likely to hold “neoliberal” economic beliefs or not. Continuing this line of work using personal biographies as a data source, Nelson is working with two Northwestern colleagues (Daniel Krcmaric and Andrew Roberts) on studying the effect of biographical factors (gender, education, occupation) on the behavior of political elites ("Studying Leaders and Elites: The Personal Biography Approach," forthcoming in the Annual Review of Political Science) as well as inequalities in political representation. This project combines these two areas by looking at the extent to which billionaires around the world participate directly in politics by running for or holding public offices and what factors determine their engagement. Surprisingly, these questions have not been systematically investigated before despite their evident importance in a world that is characterized by increasing inequality and the increasing political prominence of ultra-high net worth individuals. We have, with the assistance of a number of Northwestern undergraduates, collected biographical information and evidence of political participation for just under 1,300 billionaires; our goal is to complete the project this academic year by gathering evidence for the remaining 900 billionaires in our database.


Project synopsis: There is increasing suspicion that the very rich have an inordinate influence on politics, but there is relatively little research demonstrating the extent or form of this influence. Our project takes on one aspect of this influence: the direct participation of billionaires in politics. In the first place, we wish to determine how common it is for the very rich to hold offices like president, minister, legislator, governor, or mayor. We then plan to search for patterns in this participation – the most frequent types of office held and the individual-level and country-level determinants of office holding. More specifically, we are interested in whether office-holding by billionaires is more common in some regions than others, whether billionaires in certain industries are more likely to hold office, and whether office-holding is connected to other forms of influence like media ownership. Three faculty members are collaborating on this project. Each of them has an active research agenda which considers the effect of biographical factors on the behavior of elites. Prof. Krcmaric has studied the effect of foreign education on the behavior of executive leaders, Prof. Nelson has considered how the economics education of finance ministers affects their negotiations with the IMF and World Bank, and Prof. Roberts has looked at the effect of biographical traits on the effectiveness of MPs. This project thus extends the work of all three into the behavior of billionaires who may or may not engage directly in politics.


Description of the RA position: The student will gather data about the backgrounds and political activities of billionaires drawn from Forbes’ and Bloomberg's lists of world billionaires. The main piece of evidence they will search for is whether these billionaires sought or held some political office and, if the individual successfully gained office, what position in government did they hold and for how long. They will also gather other contextual information about these billionaires including data on their parents’ backgrounds, educational history, and occupations and their involvement in scandals or social relationships with major politicians and parties. Practically, the student will conduct searches in online databases like Gale’s Biography in Context, Marquis’ Biographies Online, or EBSCO’s Current Biography as well as Wikipedia and other country-specific sources. They will then match the biographical data they find to a set of closed and open-ended categories that we have developed. All of the information found will be documented and entered into a spreadsheet. The faculty working on the project will meet with the student every other week to troubleshoot problems and discuss any conclusion that the student has drawn from their research. Collaborator Andrew Roberts attends lunches twice a week at ISRC which offers another opportunity to discuss politics with the student.


Position Expectations: We plan to meet every other week (or more frequently, if needed) with the student to discuss progress on the project and any problems they encounter. We will also discuss potential analyses and conclusions that follow from their data gathering. Since the project will involve research on a large number of countries around the world and the creation and potentially analysis of an original database, the RA will gain the following skills: some basic knowledge of politics around the globe and the richest people in the world; skills in creating, coding and maintaining a database; experience in the research process – learning how to develop and test hypotheses.

Rather than simple data entry, our project will require the fellow to carefully read and extract information from biographies of a variety of different billionaires across the world. If students are interested, we are open to them writing their own analyses of subsections of the data they gather – e.g., by focusing on billionaires in a specific country or region – which could form the basis of a future honors thesis or independent study. We will provide a positive environment by speaking with the student about how the project relates to their education and career goals and how the research could be used to develop skills that are important for them. We hope that the student will become interested enough in the project to consider using this data for writing their own honor thesis or independent study which they could then publish or present. We are further open to making them a more formal collaborator on the project if they are interested in pursuing graduate study in the social sciences.


Time Requirements: There will be biweekly meetings between the student and faculty as well as frequent email contact.


Applicant Prerequisites: I propose to search for a student who is currently majoring in political science; ideally, this student has prior experience with data collection. If multiple students apply for the project, I will conduct interviews to assess their level of interest and skills as well as the likelihood that this project will lead them to conduct their own research in the future. We have developed protocols in concert with prior research assistants to aid in the data collection effort, which will make the work easier for students without prior experience.


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Project title: The Political Consequences of Punishment

Faculty name: Sally Nuamah

School and Department: SESP, HDSP


Faculty Bio: Dr. Sally A. Nuamah's research sits at the intersections of race, gender, education policy, and political behavior. In particular, she uses quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the political consequences of public policies across the United States as well as in Ghana and South Africa. Her dissertation, and recently completed book manuscript, examines the political effects of mass public school closure on low-income African Americans. Professor Nuamah’s first book, How Girls Achieve (2019), looks across race and gender and illuminates the unequal costs—school closure, sexual harassment, punishment—that poor black girls in the United States, Ghana and South Africa bear while striving to achieve. It then investigates the specific role of schools to combat these abuses and act as conduits of democratic equity. Professor Nuamah’s newest research seeks to build on this work by investigating the impacts of black women and girls’ disproportionate experiences with punishment on their participation in American democracy.


Project synopsis: Black women represent one of America’s most active voting blocs. Yet, black women and girls represent the largest proportion of female prison inmates and the fastest growing population in the juvenile justice system, respectively. My project will investigate the punishment of black women and girls, the public perceptions that likely shape their punishment, and the potential consequences for democracy, making it the most comprehensive interdisciplinary study of these issues to date. This work fits into my overall interest as all of my research is connected by the question of how citizens’ experiences with educational policies shape their relationship with government and democracy. My most recent book, How Girls Achieve, focused on identifying the specific barriers girls of color faced in the classroom. This project builds on this work by connecting those barriers to political outcomes.


Description of the RA position: Two students will be hired, and will split the award amount ($15/hr worked up to $1000/student). The students will have exposure to the entire research process since I am beginning a brand new project. We will train them to identify relevant literature, to conduct annotate bibliographies, to use reference software as well as survey software, specifically mechanical turk. In addition they will be trained to code qualitative data analyses if they stay on the project in the future.


Position Expectations: Students will receive oral and/or written feedback on assignments and/or approach to research/working on a team. The primary goal is for students to develop a substantive understanding of the purpose of research and the skills necessary to support a research project from beginning to end.


Time Requirements:  I have a project lead (A Ph.D. trained researcher) who will teach them specific tasks once a week that they will use to complete work assignments. I will also meet with them as a group to review assignments. Research assistants should expect to work about 10 hours a week and to meet with project lead weekly.


Applicant Prerequisites:  I have hired undergraduate RAs in the past and typically I find that if students work on a project for which they share substantive interests they are more interested in learning the skills necessary to conduct research. My plan is to identify students who have a passion for the topic and a demonstrated willingness to learn about these issues.


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Project title: Chicago Democracy Project

Faculty name: Thomas Ogorzalek

School and Department: WCAS, Political Science


Faculty Bio: Thomas Ogorzalek studies American politics, with an emphasis on urban politics, the politics of race and ethnicity, and American political development. His primary research agenda explores the dynamics of diverse political orders, especially the role of cities in national politics over the course of the 20th century, and the relationship between diversity and governance more broadly. He is also the co-director, with Jaime Dominguez, of the Chicago Democracy Project, a civic engagement tool for linking political analysis with citizens and organizations interested in urban and local politics.


Project synopsis: The Chicago Democracy Project is a research team of faculty and students in the political science department at Northwestern conducting investigations of important topics in Chicago politics and urban politics more generally. This year, we will be engaged in two central activities: analyzing elections results (from the recent past, to provide context to elections in 2018 and 2019, and from this year, after elections in November, February, and April); and analyzing responses to an original public opinion survey research project, the Chicago Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Study (CMANS). These activities will contribute directly to public conversations about these events, as well as to ongoing political science research on policy and political affinities among residents in metropolitan areas. Our results and findings (including those by students) will be periodically posted on our group’s website and through local media outlets. Over the past two years, we have completed assembly of a database of Chicago election results and demographic information. This year, the URAP research assistants will help update that database and conduct original research using the database. Some of these questions will be relatively straightforward analyses of specific factual questions such as the sources of campaign contributions for candidates; others will involve more advanced theoretical reasoning and data processing. The second core activity for the team this year will be to process and analyze responses to the CMANS study, which was collected this autumn from respondents in the Chicago metropolitan area. This work will involve hypothesis testing of quantitative survey responses as well as qualitative coding and interpretation of some open-ended questions. Research based on this survey will be presented at conferences at Urban Affairs Association, journal articles in development, and included in Ogorzalek’s next book (Working Families, Global Cities) and other shorter formats. The RA(s) in this position will be analyzing election and census data to create incorporating demographic Census information into the database, analyzing election results using statistical and GIS software, and writing text interpretations that make those results meaningful to the public. This will require the use of several kinds of software, including Excel and GIS (training will be provided as required), and to use news sources to create narrative summaries of select elections.


Description of the RA position: The student will work closely with Ogorzalek (and Dominguez) to update and add data to the online database, answer reporter queries related to upcoming elections, including work creating maps and figures for news and public circulation. They will also process responses to the CMANS survey, which include a mix of qualitative open-ended and closed-ended survey responses to test hypotheses about political behavior and attitudes.


Position Expectations: The student will complete tutorials I have designed to familiarize them with the relevant software (STATA, R, and GIS). We will also have regular meetings to discuss the research logic informing each step of our projects (question formulation, theoretical reasoning, data gathering and processing, data analysis). Experience and interest in web-based database creation software (eg SQL, Leaflet, Javascript, RShiny) would be a plus.


Time Requirements: We have quasi-weekly team meetings in which we develop and assign tasks for our blog and more long-term research projects. Students are encouraged to generate their own topics of interest, which we help develop as research questions and analyses. Several past examples are available on our project website,


Applicant Prerequisites: I do not have a specific student identified for this potential line of support at the moment.


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Project title: Feature film workshopping

Faculty name: Spencer Parsons

School and Department: SOC, RTVF


Faculty Bio: I am a filmmaker with two award winning feature films, I'LL COME RUNNING (2008) and SATURDAY MORNING MASSACRE (2013), in wide distribution, in addition to making a number of short films that have played at festivals internationally. I received my MFA in Film Production from University of Texas at Austin, where I also taught and served as senior programmer for the Cinematexas International Short Film Festival from 2000-2004. I have served on prize juries at the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, Chicago International Film Festival, and Chicago Underground Film Festival, among others, and I have curated film screenings for the Thessaloniki Film Festival (Greece), L'Alternativa (Spain), Exploding Cinema (UK), Rooftop Films (Brooklyn, NY) and at Northwestern's own Block Cinema. I am planning a new feature film to be shot in Chicagoland in summer of 2020, for which I need research assistance into home care nursing and assistance with incorporating that research into the actors' routines through improvisatory workshop rehearsals and rewriting of the screenplay to incorporate accurate procedures, professional practices, and character background into the shooting process.


Project synopsis: The overall project is a feature length film titled MR. DUST in which the protagonist is a young nurse doing in-home care for a patient in a coma. Some research was already done in order to write the screenplay, but now in production, we will need more specific information and practices, interviewing and potentially shadowing professionals so that we can best train the actors in the film to simulate the job. This resembles my process on my other feature films, in which rehearsal and production preparation require research and active workshops with actors to develop the specifics of their characters and art direct their surroundings. As with my other work, I wish to include docudrama elements integrating the economic, occupational and daily life concerns of the characters seamlessly into imaginative narratives where the audience might not expect to engage with realistic treatment of working practices, and the characters' class- and culture-based concerns. As a film, this is my primary mode of creative practice and the subject of my pedagogy. But it also comports with particular methods in filmmaking that I have developed and continue to refine, to apply to certain of my projects.


Description of the RA position: Research assistant/dramaturg will engage first in both library research into in-home medical care and first-hand interviews (whether alone or accompanying director) with nurses, aides, and/or medical technicians who do in-home care for seriously impaired patients. Research assistant will also attend casting sessions, rehearsals with actors, and assist in planning for physical production of the film that will incorporate the research, including discussions and critique for rewriting the screenplay. Experience in theatrical dramaturgy especially helpful for this job and students working in dramaturgy encouraged to apply, but this is not required, and it is expected that the research assistant will be trained on the job for some duties. Applicant must be reliable, creative, and flexible. Research assistant will meet regularly with director/supervisor, but will be expected to spend half to most time on this job working independently.


Position Expectations: 1. Student can expect to receive feedback regularly, with every meeting. The process will be very hands-on, and we will work together directly quite a lot, first in prep and instruction for research work, and then in reporting research, and working together both on interviews and in the rehearsal process with actors.

2. I aim to give the student substantive responsibility and as much participation in the artistic process as they wish to engage. In many ways, once the student is up to speed with basic responsibilities, my aim will be to treat them as a professional collaborator to the largest degree possible, while understanding that along the way I will have to provide instruction in collaborative practices and the responsibilities that may arise through work on the project.


Time Requirements: I will train and oversee the student in regular meetings, and we will work together on outreach to nurses, technicians and medical professionals before leaving the student to do any of this kind of work on their own between our meetings.


Applicant Prerequisites: I will evaluate resumes and select students for one-on-one interviews. I do not expect much experience, but I do need reliability, flexibility, and genuine interest in both library and first-hand interview-based research with nurses and technicians who do inhome care for seriously impaired patients, as well as interest in the rehearsal process to help impart this information to actors.


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Project title: Feminist Research Lab

Faculty name: Amy Partridge

School and Department: Gender and Sexuality Studies


Faculty Bio: Amy Partridge is an Assoc. Prof. of Instruction in Gender & Sexuality Studies & serves as the Assoc. Dir. of the Program. She received a Ph.D. in Performance Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Gender Studies from Northwestern University. She served as the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) in the Gender & Sexuality Studies (GSS) Program at Northwestern for the last ten years and has been teaching in the GSS Program since 2001. Partridge's teaching and research interests include topics at the intersection of the history of medicine, sexuality studies, feminist science studies, and cultural studies. A former Research Associate at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine in London, her current research focuses on feminist health projects in the U.S. in the 20th & 21st centuries. She is currently working on a book-length project on 1970s-era “socialist feminist” health projects and politics. Prof. Partridge teaches courses on "Public Health & Its Discontents" "Gender, Sexuality & Health Activism," "Female Pleasure: Feminism & the Sexological Tradition," “Sex, Sexuality and Technoscience” and research seminars on “Reproductive Health/Politics/Justice” and “Coalitional Politics: Case Studies from Chicago” as well as freshman seminars on 1970s-era women’s health movement projects in the context of the liberation movements of that time.


Project synopsis: This is a new project that seeks to more fully integrate archival research into undergraduate teaching in GSS and to make the NU archives (particularly the remarkable Femina collection) more accessible to undergraduate students as they formulate research questions for URG-funded summer projects &/or senior thesis projects. In brief, I am hoping to work with two undergraduate research assistants this academic year (and beyond) to curate mini-collections of archival materials housed in Special Collections that can be used to introduce students to archival research. These mini-collections would be organized by topic (e.g. women’s liberation position papers on abortion pre-Roe), project (e.g. CWLU Liberation School courses on “Our Bodies” and “The Politics of Healthcare”), organization (e.g. the Religious Committee for Abortion Rights Women of Color Partnership Project), and key events (e.g. the 1971 Chicago Women’s Health Conference). Student researchers who have taken my courses will be familiar, in general terms, with these topics but I will also provide student researchers with several articles that offer the requisite historical context. Assembling these collections will require some original archival research in Special Collections, but one of the main tasks will be to cull these collections from amongst the archival materials already identified and collected by myself and the several student research assistants with whom I have been working for the last several years. As undergraduate students themselves, the RA’s sense of which documents are most accessible and interesting to students, the historical context needed to make sense of the collection, and the best format for students to access and work with it will be invaluable. This is a multi-year project but the end goal is build an online platform to house these mini-collections to which students in GSS courses contribute content--which might take the form of “finding aids” of additional relevant materials, interpretative essays that situate these documents in an historical context, or analytic essays that offer an interpretation of these materials &/or consider  their relevance to current debates—that build upon each other’s findings across classes, quarters, and projects. To establish, in other words, what I am calling a Feminist Research Lab.


Description of the RA position: Two students will be hired, and will split the award amount ($15/hr worked up to $1000/student). I would meet with the two research assistants weekly for the first month and would devote this first month to explaining the project, offering an overview of the work for the year, and detailing their role in the project. I would also use this time to orient the student researchers to the broad research topic (including reading several articles as part of their research work) and to training them to work in Special Collections. Each student will then begin independent work on a specific mini-collection. The first task will be to pull and scan documents from a range of sources in SPC--e.g. published pamphlets, manuscript collections, articles in serial collections. Then we will collectively review these documents, identify those that will be included in the collection, other documents needed, requisite contextual information and so on. We will meet once every other week to discuss these issues and to identify specific tasks and next steps for each student researcher.


Position Expectations: This work will introduce students to the wide range of archival materials available in Special Collections at NU. Their work in culling mini-collections around a specific case will introduce them as well to several ongoing and related research trajectories that they might take up in their own independent research.


Time Requirements: I would meet with the two students weekly for the first month. Then we will meet once every other week to discuss issues and to identify specific tasks and next steps for each student.


Applicant Prerequisites: In selecting 2 RAs, I will give preference to students who are in their first two years at NU, have not yet had any research experience, and need to work to contribute to their tuition. Ideally, students also have some background knowledge of the general research topics through their GSS coursework &/or some exposure to the archives housed in Special Collections at Northwestern as students through work in “research seminars.” Because this is a multi-year project, I am hoping to hire first years or sophomores who might work on the project over the course of several year.


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Project title: Children's perceptions of social groups

Faculty name: Sylvia Perry

School and Department: WCAS, Psychology


Faculty Bio: My research investigates how individual difference factors interact with situational factors to affect intergroup contexts, educational and healthcare settings, and people’s sense of belonging and psychological well-being. These individual difference factors range from the different ways in which people respond to stressful intergroup contexts (such as interracial interactions) to how people differentially cope with environmental stressors (such as the identity and stereotype threat minorities experience in academic and healthcare settings). With some of my current lines of research I am investigating: (1) whether there are individual differences in people’s awareness of their racially biased tendencies and the consequences of this “awareness”; (2) the situational and individual difference factors that influence parents’ willingness to have, and physiological responses to, race discussions with their children; (3) the impact of medical school racial climate on medical student and patient outcomes.


Project synopsis: In this project we are examining children’s perceptions of different social groups. We are investigating our research questions across various developmental periods (5-10-year olds). We will examine our questions within the context of children's perceptions of different environmental contexts and various desirable objects, like a toy that is owned by another child.


Description of the RA position: The student will be highly involved in the research process. This person will be actively involved in team meetings, participant data collection (at the Museum of Science & Industry), and data cleaning and coding. Their primary role will be to assist with data collection with parents and children as part of a large study designed to assess children's attitudes toward social groups, and their perceptions about social class. As a key member of the research team, they will be involved in weekly meetings to discuss the progress of this project, other work being conducted in the lab (and opportunities to collaborate with graduate students), and professional development (e.g., how to apply to graduate school). In addition, they will assist with data processing, coding, and analysis.


Position Expectations: Training will primarily be provided by Dr. Sylvia Perry and graduate students James Wages and Sirenia Sanchez, as well as the lab’s full-time lab manager, Brandon Davis. Mr. Davis will be overseeing student research assistants on a daily basis and Dr. Perry, Mr. Wages, and Ms. Sanchez will be checking in on a regular basis to ensure that the project is running smoothly. The student can expect to learn about research ethics and protocols, how to conduct experimental psychology research in a laboratory and public settings. We will simultaneously be collecting a study in the lab that involves dyadic interactions between parents and children. As a result, the student will learn how to collect physiological data (i.e., ECG, respiration, and impedance cardiography), how to process physiological data, how to transcribe qualitative data, and how to code nonverbal behavior (among other things).


Time Requirements: The student will receive extensive feedback (on a daily basis) during the initial training phase of the project. Once the project begins we plan to check in approximately once per week, to review how things are going and provide pointers, feedback, etc.


Applicant Prerequisites:  We have a series of questions that we ask all applicants. These questions assess lab "fit" (e.g., whether they are interested in and understand the topic that our lab researchers, their time constraints, etc.).


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Project title: EDIT Program

Faculty name: Gregory Phillips II

School and Department: FSM, Medical Social Sciences


Faculty Bio: Gregory Phillips II, MS, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Social Sciences, and directs the Evaluation, Data Integration, and Technical Assistance (EDIT) Program within the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH). His research focuses on identifying and addressing disparities in health and healthcare among racial, sexual, and gender minority populations at the local and national level, with an emphasis on multilevel drivers of health and community-engaged research methods. He received his doctorate in Epidemiology from The George Washington University in 2012. The EDIT Program is currently welcoming applications from students to contribute to two projects: A collaboration with the Chicago Department of Public Health to evaluate local HIV prevention and care services, and an NIH-funded R01 to identify disparities in sexual and gender minority youth's health at the population level.


Project synopsis: The EDIT Program is a research leader in bridging national health research using large, complex datasets with local, community engaged work to achieve progress towards health equity, with a focus on LGBT health and HIV outcomes among racial, sexual, and gender minority populations. EDIT's currently funded projects speak directly to these goals. The Evaluation Center, funded through contracts with the Chicago Department of Public Health, uses a systems-informed, empowerment-driven approach to support the implementation of HIV prevention and care programs across the Chicagoland area in partnership with community organizations and stakeholders. The second, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance project, leverages national CDC data to identify and explain gaps in health among LGBT youth. Students would have the opportunity to contribute significantly to both programs.


Description of the RA position: The student will participate in all aspects of research associated with their assigned projects and areas of interest/mentorship. Students will be asked to participate actively in research group meetings, including providing critical feedback on scientific strategy, data interpretation, and dissemination. Based on their primary areas of stated interest, students will provide direct support to relevant team members (i.e., a student with interest in data analysis will work more closely with the team's data analyst, whereas a student interested in research design may work more closely with team members preparing grant applications). Specific tasks may include data cleaning or basic to advanced analysis according to student skills, literature review and manuscript drafting, or the preparation of summary presentations on particular topics relating to pending work for all team members.


Position Expectations: Any student selected will have Dr. Phillips as a primary mentor. Depending on the student's particular interests, they will be assigned a supplementary mentor from the EDIT Program team. Students particularly interested in community-based research or program evaluation may receive supplementary mentorship from a Project Coordinator from the Evaluation Center team, whereas students interested in publication experience may work more closely with other Research Assistants primarily responsible for dissemination.


Time Requirements: Students will meet either weekly or biweekly with both mentors to ensure appropriate progress and development.


Applicant Prerequisites: Successful applicants to our program will display the following: 1) An interest in one or more of our program areas of focus: public health, HIV, epidemiology, data science, health disparities and health equity, program evaluation, multilevel influences on individual and population health, and intersectional methods in health research; 2) An interest in collaborative, rigorous, and ethical research practice; 3) An interest in both traditional (academic) and non-traditional (community-based) dissemination methods; 4) Comfort or competency working with the LGBT community, racial/ethnic minority populations, and other marginalized groups; 5) Willingness to learn. Students of any and all research abilities and backgrounds are welcome to apply to work with Dr. Phillips and the EDIT team, although preference may be given to those who express interest in a career in public health or health sciences. EDIT takes seriously a commitment to training skilled researchers of all backgrounds and encourages applications from students of color, sexual and gender minority students, students with disabilities, and students from marginalized ethnic or religious backgrounds.


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Project title: Stereotypes of Adolescence

Faculty name: Yang Qu

School and Department: Human Development and Social Policy


Faculty Bio: I am an assistant professor of Human Development and Social Policy in the School of Education and Social Policy. My research examines how sociocultural contexts shape adolescent development. In this vein, I have two lines of research. First, I investigate the psychological mechanisms underlying cultural differences in adolescents’ academic, social, and emotional development. Second, I examine how parents influence adolescent development, with attention to the implications for adolescents’ learning and psychological adjustment. In both these lines of inquiry, I study children from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds using a variety of methodological approaches.


Project synopsis: In this project, we will examine the differences in stereotypes of adolescence among four ethnic groups (i.e., European Americans, African Americans, Latino Americans, and Asian Americans). Prior research suggests that American parents and children hold a negative view of teens, such that the teens are perceived rebellious and irresponsible. Given that Asian and Latino American cultures are more collectivistic compared to European or African American cultures, Asian American and Latino American youth are more likely to value the importance of close family relationships and feel obligated to their parents. Therefore, it is hypothesized that guided by their cultural values, Asian American and Latino American youth would be more likely to view the teen years as a time of fulfilling family obligations compared to their European and African American counterparts. In addition, we will investigate the role of parents in shaping youth’s stereotypes of adolescence and adjustment. It is hypothesized that parents’ stereotypes of adolescence may influence their youth’s stereotypes over time, such that youth are likely to adopt their parents’ stereotypes. In addition, when parents’ practices contradict with youth’s expectation of teen years (e.g., high parental control vs. youth’s desire to individuate from parents), youth may experience parent-child conflicts and maladaptive adjustment over adolescence


Description of the RA position: One student will be hired via search, to join another RA; the students will split the award amount ($15/hr worked up to $1000/student). In this project, we aim to recruit a total sample of 1600 parent-child dyads (400 from each ethnic group, i.e., White, Black, Latino, Asian; children are middle school students (7th or 8th graders), and parents are the primary caregiver of children) for the longitudinal survey sessions. The project is very new, as it is currently in the IRB review process. Since this project just started, the students will in involve in all the stages of a research study. The students will help put together questionnaires, contact middle schools, contact families, go to middle schools to distribute research materials and collect consent and assent forms, organize data, and write literature reviews.


Position Expectations: The percentage of time devoted to each task is not evenly spread across three quarters. Since the first part of the academic year will focus on data collection, the tasks for the fall quarter and the winter quarter will mainly be recruitment, survey preparation, and going to schools to distribute materials. As we gradually collect data, the later part of the winter quarter and the spring quarter will involve more data analysis and literature search. The student will also join the lab’s meeting, which usually happens once a week for around two to three hours each per session. In the meeting, the research team will share thoughts on the project, discuss accomplished work, and plan the future tasks. Currently, the size of my lab is small, so the students will have an important role to play and will be a valuable asset to the team.


Time Requirements: I will primarily be operating on a regularly scheduled meeting schedule, which usually happens once a week for around two to three hours each per session. In addition, the weekly meetings will also be attended by the graduate students and RAs. This way, the RAs can be exposed to the intricate levels of development that my research is undergoing without necessarily feeling lost since we can elaborate as we go. In this way, the RAs will also be given high accessibility to various tasks, since they can directly volunteer or be assigned by me on various weekly objectives that I think is appropriate to help them gradually acclimate to the environment.


Applicant Prerequisites: I am mainly looking for an additional mentee who is intrigued by cross-cultural developmental psychology research, but who may not have experience in any research before. Additionally, I am also looking for a mentee who is either a First Year or Sophomore, as I intend to establish a long-term mentorship with all of my mentees.


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Project title: Billionaires in Politics

Faculty name: Andrew Roberts

School and Department: WCAS, Political Science


Faculty Bio: Andrew Roberts is an Associate Professor of Political Science. He is currently conducting research on the effect of biographical factors (gender, education, experience) on the behavior of political elites as well as inequalities in political representation. This project combines these two areas by looking at the extent to which global billionaires participate directly in politics by running for or holding public offices and what factors determine their engagement. Surprisingly, these questions have not been investigated before despite their evident importance in a world that is characterized by increasing inequality and the increasing prominence of the very rich. He is conducting this project jointly with two other Northwestern professors, Daniel Krcmaric and Steve Nelson. Together the three have recently published a review article on “Studying Leaders and Elites” in the Annual Review of Political Science.


Project synopsis: There is increasing suspicion that the very rich have an inordinate influence on politics, but there is relatively little research demonstrating the extent or form of this influence. Our project takes on one aspect of this influence: the direct participation of billionaires in politics. In the first place, we wish to determine how common it is for the very rich to hold offices like president, minister, legislator, governor, or mayor. We then plan to search for patterns in this participation – the most frequent types of office held and the individual-level and country-level determinants of office holding. More specifically, we are interested in whether office-holding by billionaires is more common in some regions than others, whether billionaires in certain industries are more likely to hold office, and whether office-holding is connected to other forms of influence like media ownership.

Three faculty members are collaborating on this project. Each of them has an active research agenda which considers the effect of biographical factors on the behavior of elites. Prof. Roberts has published articles on the role of billionaires in East European politics. Prof. Krcmaric has studied the effect of foreign education on the behavior of executive leaders. Prof. Nelson has considered how the economics education of finance ministers affects their negotiations with the IMF and World Bank. This project thus extends the work of all three into the behavior of billionaires who may or may not engage directly in politics. We ultimately plan to turn this project into a book manuscript and multiple journal articles.


Description of the RA position: The student will gather data about the activities of billionaires on Forbes’ list of world billionaires. The main piece of evidence they will search for is whether these billionaires held some political office and if so what sort of office and for how long. They will also gather other contextual information about these billionaires including data on their parents, education, and occupations and their involvement in scandals or social relationships with major politicians and parties.

Practically, the student will conduct searches in online databases like Gale’s Biography in Context, Marquis’ Biographies Online, or EBSCO’s Current Biography as well as Wikipedia and other country-specific sources. They will then match the biographical data they find to a set of closed and open-ended categories that we have developed. All of the information found will be documented and entered into a spreadsheet. At the start of the project, the faculty involved in the project will lead the student through the codebook we have prepared and discuss how each variable is measured. We will then show the student the main databases of biographies and together extract the key information for a handful of billionaires to directly model the research. Previous RAs who have worked on the project have further prepared a video outlining the research process.


Position Expectations: Since the project will involve research in countries around the world and the creation and potentially analysis of an original database, the RA will gain the following skills:

• Some knowledge of politics around the globe and the richest people in the world

• Skills in creating, coding and maintaining a database

• Experience in the research process – learning how to develop and test hypotheses

Rather than simple data entry, our project will require the RA to carefully read and extract information from biographies of a variety of different billionaires across the world. If the student is interested, we are open to them writing their own analyses of subsections of the data they gather – e.g., by focusing on billionaires in a specific country or region – which could form the basis of a future honors thesis or independent study.

We will provide a positive environment by speaking with the student about how the project relates to their education and career goals and how the research could be used to develop skills that are important for them. Andrew Roberts attends lunches twice a week at ISRC which offers another opportunity to discuss politics with the student.

We hope that the student will become interested enough in the project to consider using this data for writing their own honor thesis or independent study which they could then publish or present. We are further open to making them a more formal collaborator on the project if they are interested in pursuing graduate study in the social sciences.


Time Requirements: The student will work for 133 hours over the the remainder of the academic year which translates to approximately 5-10 hours/week. The student may work over breaks as well as during the quarter and all of the work can be conducted from home.


Applicant Prerequisites: I will give priority to students who are currently members of the International Studies Residential College and have not previously been involved in research projects, though others may apply as well. If multiple students apply for the project, I will conduct interviews to assess their level of interest and skills as well as the likelihood that this project will lead them to conduct their own research in the future.


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Project title: The Intern Factor

Faculty name: Karen Springen

School and Department: Journalism


Faculty Bio: I am a journalist who teaches undergraduate and graduate students at Medill and directs the Journalism Residency internship program. Anecdotally, I know the JR program helps many students land incredible first jobs out of college. I'd like to conduct a survey and follow up with in-depth interviews with willing respondents to confirm that this is true.


Project synopsis: Each year I place 150 to 170 or so students in quarter-long full-time internships at media companies like The Wall Street Journal ,Instagram, LinkedIn, People magazine and Smithsonian magazine. Often our Journalism Residency “sites,” as we call them, either hire our students after graduation or give them rave reviews that help them land other jobs. I’d like to do a research project on whether these academic internships are as important as I think they are for finding meaningful employment later. I know where a lot of the former students are now, but, collaborating with the student, I’d like to survey them and interview them in person or by BlueJeans video about how valuable the internship was in terms of figuring out what they wanted to do and then landing the job.


Description of the RA position: I would like the student to work with me to get IRB approval (if needed), to write the questions for an online survey sent to alumni and to conduct many of the in-depth interviews (ideally through the university's BlueJeans video system so we could record them). We would formulate the in-depth interview questions together. Ideally, the student would conduct one to two in-depth interview per week and write a synopsis of the highlights of that interview or interviews. We would meet once a week to review the results and to formulate any new questions and to discuss which respondents to contact next.


Position Expectations: I'd like to meet with the student each week to give advice before the interviews and feedback afterward. The student would learn how to formulate an online survey and then how to conduct in-depth interviews. I plan to meet in person with the student weekly but also always have an open-door policy.


Time Requirements: The $2,000 award works out to 133 hours – so five to 10 hours a week.


Applicant Prerequisites: I would prefer to recruit a Medill journalism student who would start the project with some reporting and writing skills. I'd also prefer to find a first year or sophomore who could potentially remain with the project for longer than just a few quarters.


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Project title: The Pulter Project

Faculty name: Wendy Wall

School and Department: WCAS, English


Faculty Bio: I am a professor in the English Department (Avalon Professor of the Humanities and the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence). My specialty is in early modern English literature and culture, and I have worked extensively on Renaissance women writers, manuscript culture, authorship/textual studies and Shakespeare. I have written 3 books (The Imprint of Gender: Authorship and Publication in the English Renaissance; Staging Domesticity: Household Work and English Identity in Early Modern Drama; and Recipes for Thought: Knowledge and Taste in the Early Modern English Kitchen. My latest project is a collaboratively produced digital edition of a recently discovered manuscript of poems by 17th century female writer. I became interested in how I might test a radical editorial philosophy by creating a digital edition; this would also experiment with a new mode for humanistic collaborative research and usher a new writer into the canon.


Project synopsis: The Pulter Project is an open access site that makes the newly discovered poetry of Hester Pulter available to students, teachers, and general readers. These religious, political, scientific, and personal poems will be important in the canon of English literature soon; they are an important record of early modern women’s intellectual culture. The site is innovative in the digital platforms it uses and in the fact that it introduces readers to multiple, equally authorized versions of each poem (which is a radical departure from conventional editing practice). The project is also innovative in how it is generated: 11 scholars from four continents in the Anglophone world have contributed editions which are peer reviewed by an Editorial Board constituted by eminent scholars. TPP has trained graduate students in four countries (UK, Canada, US, and New Zealand) and is now being used in numerous classrooms throughout the world. The MAD Studio at Northwestern has created a novel customization of a digital tool (versioning machine) and an elegant design which is being presented at conferences for digital innovation.


Description of the RA position: The student will help us to create Phase 2 of The Pulter Project (it launched Nov. 2018, with 60% of Putler's poems online). Phase 2 is oriented to building a pedagogical section for the website, which will involve soliciting and evaluating submissions by teachers (syllabi, assignments, etc.); prepping for a symposium on "teaching Pulter" to be held at Northwestern in May, 2020); and preparing new poems to be included on the site.  


Position Expectations: The student will be trained in how to do accurate research to update the Pulter bibliography (learning how to format and verify) research materials; create a database of actual and potential reviewers for the new submissions; find likely contributors; write communications to potential participants; design and update publicity materials, working on social media, when needed; work with the 3 person tech team to gather updates; proofread the site for consistency; gather and sort feedback to TPP; and help to prepare new poems to be launched.


Time Requirements: After an initial intake interview, I would have a Skype meeting with the student and my collaborator in Canada to go over expectations and goals. I would then have follow up meetings every 2-3 weeks with the student, depending on tasks that need to be explained and training. The student would meet with the tech team in MADs Studio once to go over the digital coding (the student would not be expected to code, but this is important to see the "back end" of the site and we will train the student to code if this is of interest).


Applicant Prerequisites:  Any interested students could send in a short letter of interest (explaining their course of study at Northwestern). I would meet with the student to see if s/he might be a fit (our tech, editorial, and scholarly team would be looking for someone interested in literature, digital tools, public humanities and in learning project management. We seek someone who is detail oriented and curious.


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