Research Internships


The Child Health Study (CHS), Center for Healthy Children

What the study is about:

The primary purpose of the CHS is to learn more about the different ways in which the environment and biology can affect a child’s health. The information we learn will help us to understand more about children, adolescents and their families. We are looking at the ways in which boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 13 have different life experiences based on the different environments they live in and how these experiences shape child development.

How you can become involved:

Research assistant applicants must be self-motivated and reliable. Research assistants will help with data collection, data entry, and coding. Additionally, the assistants will interact with the child and the caregiver on various levels from being the first point of contact for the Center on the day of the visit, escorting families to the Center, facilitating art, science, and nutritional activities revolving around healthy choices as well as helping administer questionnaires on an iPad and paper measures when necessary. Research assistants must be available a few Saturdays per semester for visits. Research assistants must be able to be at the center by 7:30 am on days of scheduled visits.

Eligible undergraduates interested in also gaining medically relevant experience with respect to processing, storing, and transporting biological samples (specifically, blood, urine, saliva), can receive training on these processes as well.

What you need to do to become involved:

Due to the complexity and nature of the study, all members of the research team are required to complete a number of training sessions and clearances and must be able to make a two-semester commitment of 9 hours a week to the study. That includes the following training sessions:

And the following clearances/background checks:

Why become involved:

  • Independent research credit
  • Valuable, cutting edge research experience
  • Opportunity for a senior honors thesis (based on thesis requirements)
  • CMAS and BBH Internship placement (based on internship requirements)

Application Process:

Complete the Undergraduate Research Assistantship application by the following deadlines:  February 1 for Summer; March 1 for Fall; October 1 for Spring

Undergraduate Research Assistantship Application (doc)

The Safe and Healthy Communities Initiative

What the study is about:

The Safe and Healthy Communities Initiative is a comprehensive child sexual abuse (CSA) prevention strategy implemented in counties throughout Pennsylvania. It consists of three evidence-based intervention programs that are delivered to three distinct groups of individuals who are crucial in protecting children: the general adult community, school-aged children, and parents in high-risk families. The project seeks to change knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to CSA prevention, with the distal goal of reducing rates of CSA across intervention counties.

How you can become involved:

Research assistant applicants must be self-motivated and reliable.  Job duties/responsibilities may vary from week to week, but will include assisting research staff with the following tasks: (1) entering survey data into Microsoft Excel and REDCap databases; (2) coding open-ended survey data; (3) preparing surveys for data collection in the field and subsequently tracking and processing surveys upon their return; (4) contributing to scholarly presentations of lab research; (5) retrieving, downloading, and abstracting peer-reviewed articles relevant to the research project.

What you need to do to become involved:

CITI Program Training Course - Protection of Human Research Participants, Social, and Behavioral Human Subject Research Course

Research assistant applicants should be at least a first-semester sophomore, have a GPA of at least 3.0, and be able to make a two-semester commitment of 9 hours a week (with potential for continuation beyond two semesters).

Why become involved:

  • Independent research credit
  • Valuable, cutting edge research experience

Application Process:

Send curriculum vitae and brief statement of interest to safehealthypa@psu.edu

Parent-Child Dynamics Lab

What the study is about:

In Dr. Erika Lunkenheimer's Parent-Child Dynamics Lab, we study the ways that parenting and parent-child interaction patterns influence child development. We use dynamic time series analysis to examine how parents and children coordinate their emotions, behaviors, and physiology, and how this coordination is related to the development of children's self-regulation and behavior problems in school. We also examine how parent-child interaction patterns relate to resilience and risk in the family, such as risk for child maltreatment, and how a better understanding of these patterns can inform the development and improvement of preventive interventions for stressed and overburdened families. Undergraduate Research Assistants will work both independently and as a team to support a broad range of research efforts, such as data collection, processing, and analysis.

How you can become involved:

Potential responsibilities include project preparation, recruiting families for research involvement, conducting study visits, coding behavior and affect in videotaped parent-child interaction tasks, entering questionnaire data, and/or processing physiological (breathing and heart rate) data. Training is provided. Undergraduate Research Assistants attend a regular group meeting which includes professional development topics, presentation of lab research, and discussion of relevant literature.

Application Process:

If you are an undergraduate student who is looking for research experience, the PCD lab may be a good fit if you are interested in gaining research skills in parent-child relationships and developmental psychopathology. To be eligible, students must have a 3.4 GPA or better and be able to commit to a minimum of 6 hours per week during the semester and/or the summer, for at least two semesters. In addition, students must be able to attend a weekly meeting with their supervisor. Students must be highly responsible, reliable, motivated, and dedicated to conducting accurate and high quality work. Good attention to detail and the ability to carefully follow directions (e.g., complicated protocols for data collection) are also important. Finally, it is important to have the capacity to work independently (while having the judgment to know when to ask for assistance).

Please complete the online application available on our website.

Parent-Child Dynamics Lab

Working with the Parents and Children together (PACT) Research Office located at 2001 N. Front Street, Building 2, Suite 222, Harrisburg, PA 17102.

What the study is about:

Dr. Erika Lunkenheimer's Parent-Child Dynamics Lab works with the Parent Regulation, Engagement, Stress, and Health (PRESH) Study is investigating parent stress, parental discipline, and regulatory processes in parents and children, with the goal of better supporting overburdened parents.  We are seeking Research Assistants for our Harrisburg, PA satellite research office to support data collection on this large 5-year study of families with 2-3 year-olds.  Penn State University Park and Penn State Harrisburg students are welcome to apply.  For Penn State University Park students, it would involve travel back and forth to Harrisburg on data collection days. 

How you can become involved:

Duties may involve conducting lab sessions with families, visiting families’ homes, conducting parent interviews, and child care. 

Application Process:

We are seeking hard-working, intrinsically motivated, detail-oriented students who enjoy research. Prior research experience and/or experience with young children is preferred.

Please contact Dr. Erika Lunkenheimer at ezl5238@psu.edu or Catherine Hamby at cmh445@psu.edu for information on the application procedure.

 

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