Undergraduate Research

Serving as a research assistant in a Psychology faculty research laboratory is a valuable opportunity. Research experience allows students to develop a portfolio of valuable skills, such as problem solving, interpersonal awareness, critical evaluation, and general research experience. Such experience is excellent preparation for the job market and graduate school. Research experience is absolutely crucial for students who wish to go to graduate school. In fact, the earlier you start the better – freshman and sophomores are encouraged to get involved. Students may earn university credit for their research assistantships by enrolling in Psych 290, Undergraduate Research Lower Division, and Psych 690, Undergraduate Research Upper Division. Psych 290 and Psych 690 are essentially research apprenticeships with a faculty mentor. Thus, joining a research laboratory is an excellent way to get to know a faculty member better.

Psychology faculty members are committed to developing the intellectual talents of all students. Our commitment is reflected in the outstanding record of Psychology faculty participation in UROP apprenticeships and the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program for low income, and/or first generation, and/or traditionally underrepresented undergraduate students. Our faculty members have also been involved in the American Psychological Association’s Minority Undergraduate Students of Excellence Program which helps undergraduate students gain entry into graduate programs in psychology.

The Department takes great pride in the fact that many of our undergraduates have carried out research under the supervision of Psychology faculty that has resulted in publications in some of the best journals in the field.

How to Find a Position as a Research Assistant

1.   Find a faculty member or members whose research is of most interest to you and most relevant to your career goals.

  • Think about what aspects of psychology really interest you. Read scientific articles in this area to learn more.
  • Check the psychology department website’s list of faculty members and their research interests: http://uwm.edu/psychology/our-people/. Some professors have a lab webpage which describes what they do in more detail. Links to these webpages can be found under each faculty member’s page on the departmental faculty listing.
  • Check the Office of Undergraduate Research webpage for additional listings of research opportunities: https://uwm.edu/our/

2.   Apply to work in the lab(s) that interest you.

  • In general, the best way to apply is to email the faculty member and ask if they have openings.
  • Provide a BRIEF description of your background (e.g., major, year in school) and why you are interested in working in that lab. Do NOT send an email to multiple faculty at once – that way you can state specifically why you want to work in a particular lab. Do your homework before emailing! Read their papers, understand the kind of research they do.
  • Some faculty have information regarding how to apply to work in their lab on their lab web page. Check for this before emailing the faculty. If they provide an application form on their website complete that rather than emailing them.

3.   If no opportunities are available, don’t be afraid to inquire again in a few months, or to ask the faculty member if they may have spots available in future semesters.

4.   If you have further questions feel free to contact the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies, Deborah E Hannula, hannula@uwm.edu.