Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Students may apply to work with faculty as volunteers or for course credit through Psyc397.  Please email faculty directly to inquire about the availability of research opportunities for a particular semester and additional details about the research experience.


Dr. Diane Alonso (Shady Grove Campus)

Merging Cognitive Psychology with Computer Science/Human Computer Interaction to implement best practices in technology, teamwork, and education. Two primary focus areas are (1) studying how to effectively integrate technology into the classroom and (2) exploring mechanisms to promote interdisciplinary, inter-institutional, and interprofessional experiences in education.

Student Activities: Specifically for students who are enrolled in the psychology program at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) campus in Rockville, MD: Internships (PSYC 398), Independent Research in Psychology (PSYC 490) and Honors Thesis Research (PSYC 498 and 499H). For the research courses, qualified students, who have successfully completed PSYC 312 (Research Methods in Psychology II) will design, develop, deploy, and analyze data from an experiment. They will also present their findings at conferences and prepare a manuscript for publication.

Contact: dalonso@umbc.edu


Dr. Sandra Barrueco

BIENESTAR/Wellbeing Lab (research opportunities available for students at both the main campus and at Shady Grove)

Research Interests: Examine and address developmental and mental health difficulties among language-minority, immigrant, and migrant children. Three interrelated investigative foci include 1) methodological improvements in the assessment and early identification of bilingual children, 2) expansion of the theoretical and research bases pertaining to developmental and clinical processes within immigrant children and their families, and 3) creation and examination of multisystemic preventive interventions fostering linguistic and socioemotional functioning.

Student Activities: Active participation in studies, engagement with children, families, communities, and broader systems, data collection, literature reviews, research design statistical analysis, attending lab meetings. Advanced research assistants may be able to develop independent research projects in the lab and may be involved in conference presentations and manuscript preparation. Students who wish to gain research experience in preparation for graduate school are encouraged to apply. Bilingual skills  beneficial, but not required.

Interested in joining as an undergraduate student?  Please complete this form.


Dr. John Borrero

Behavioral applications to response allocation of college undergraduates, persons with intellectual disabilities, and typically developing young children.

Student Activities:  Assisting with laboratory sessions, observing, scoring, and graphing behavioral data, and intensive literature searches to facilitate manuscript preparation.

Undergraduates interested in joining Dr. Borrero’s team must have completed PSYC 210.

Contact: jborrero@umbc.edu


Dr. Anne Brodsky

Resilience and the role of communities, psychological sense of community (PSOC), and culture in creating and resisting societal risks, including community violence, poverty, racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression. The exploration of resilient processes in diverse populations.

Student Activities : Various experiences related to conducting, organizing, coding, and analyzing qualitative data with a focus on culture, gender and community.

Contact: brodsky@umbc.edu


Dr. Mirela Cengher

The overarching theme of my research is the development of effective procedures to enhance learning in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. I am specifically interested in variables that influence language development and other complex skills (e.g., concept formation), as well as functional assessment and treatment of problem behavior. We currently have several ongoing studies with children with ASD. Undergraduate students help with coding data, analyzing data, conducting literature reviews, preparing manuscripts for publication, and preparing presentations for conferences. Several undergraduate students in my lab received undergraduate research awards and completed honors theses.

Requirements for students: students must work in the lab for at least two consecutive semesters to be considered for a research assistant position. During this time, students are expected to work a minimum of 10 hrs a week.

Contact: cengher@umbc.edu


Dr. Charissa Cheah

The impact of culture on socialization processes and the social- emotional, psychological, and physical health and development of children, adolescents, and emerging adults. Research focuses on immigrant, ethnic and/or religious minority groups in the U.S. (e.g., Asian immigrants, Muslim-American adolescents) and cross-cultural comparisons internationally (e.g., China, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Turkey, Italy).

Student Activities : Research design, data collection (interviewing parents, children, adolescents), questionnaire assessments, observations of behaviors, experiments with children), data entry and management, library research, involvement in conference presentations and manuscript publications, and attending research team meetings.

Contact: ccheah@umbc.edu


Dr. Lynnda Dahlquist

Developing effective psychological treatments for the pain and fear children experience during medical treatment; child and family adjustment to chronic illness.

Student Activities:  Testing distraction-based management protocols with children and adults using laboratory pain protocols, recruiting families to participate in questionnaire based studies; administering questionnaires, interfacing with medical staff, transcribing/coding parent-child interaction videotapes, scoring questionnaires, data entry, and library research.

Interested students should e-mail Dr. Dahlquist to arrange for an interview.  Please include your GPA, a resume and a statement of interest.

Contact: dahlquis@umbc.edu


Dr. Erika Fountain

Research Interests: the intersection of developmental and community psychology, law, and public policy; how adolescents and their families navigate the legal system, juvenile plea bargaining, legal decision making, and attorney-client-family relationships; how research informs policy and policy change.
Student Activities: Research assistants can begin developing their research skills by assisting with the development of research protocols, data collection, literature reviews, and manuscript preparation. Advanced research assistants may be able to develop independent research projects in the lab. Students who wish to gain research experience in preparation for graduate school are encouraged to apply.
Contact: efount@umbc.edu


Dr. Molly Franz

Understanding the effects of PTSD and trauma-related psychopathology on survivors’ family relationships; identifying and promoting sources of strength and resilience among individuals coping with trauma-related distress

Student Activities: Recruiting families to participate in studies involving interviews, questionnaires, and daily diary assessment; administering components of study protocol to participants; assisting with literature reviews; data entry, coding and data analysis

Interested students should e-mail Dr. Franz to arrange for an interview.  Please include your unofficial transcript and resume.



Dr. Karrie Godwin

Dr. Godwin’s Child Development Lab is looking for self-motivated students interested in developmental psychology and its application to education and learning. Current topics include: the development of executive functioning and attention regulation and their impact on learning. Undergraduate students’ experience in the lab will enable them to gain important skills to contribute to science and be competitive in applying to graduate school or other future positions.
Student Activities: Students will gain experience in all aspects of the research process including: collecting data with children and adults, creating stimuli for studies, as well as data entry. With appropriate lab experience, students can also pursue advanced opportunities including participating in the lab’s dissemination efforts (e.g., conference presentations and publications) and taking leadership roles on research projects.
Contact: kgodwin@umbc.edu

Dr. Tasneem Khambaty

Examines interrelations among biopsychosocial factors and cardiometabolic health and disease. Specifically, research at the interface of cardiometabolic disease risk (e.g., diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome), aging, cognition, psychosocial and biobehavioral factors, and health disparities. Examines: (1) psychosocial (e.g., depression and anxiety symptoms, subtypes and disorders, socioeconomic status) and cognitive risk factors for the development of diabetes- and dementia-related outcomes, (2) biobehavioral mechanisms that underlie these associations; and (3) psychosocial factors that contribute to racial/ethnic disparities in cardiometabolic disease, focusing on Hispanic/Latino and African American populations.

Study Activities: Active participation in data collection on campus and downtown (Baltimore VA); Data management and entry; literature reviews and presentation of the same; conference presentations and manuscript preparation; attending research team meetings.



Dr. Donald Knight (Shady Grove Campus)

Cultural psychological constructs, including but not limited to: research mentoring of minority doctoral students in professional psychology; minority men, masculinity and father absence issues; and cultural competency/humility in applied clinical work.

Contact: dknigh1@umbc.edu


Dr. Elliot Lasson (Shady Grove Campus)

Generational differences in the workforce, employment interviewing, career progression, performance management, social media and employment; digital technologies and boundaries, personality and integrity assessment.

Student Activities:  academic advisement, career coaching to facilitate internships and job opportunities in I/O and HR, resume advisory, mock interviews, sharing job leads, professional network integration.

Contact: elasson@umbc.edu


Dr. Christopher Murphy

There are no specific course requirements to work with our team, and students are encouraged to apply early in their program of studies (as freshmen or sophomores). Preference is given to Psychology majors and students with a GPA above 3.0.

Opportunities are specific to prevention and treatment of abuse and violence in intimate adult relationships. Example topics include the efficacy of prevention programs for gender-based violence, treatments for individuals who engage in intimate partner abuse, and the role of trauma in abuse perpetration.

Student Activities:  Literature searches, data management, data coding, internship experiences at domestic violence agencies, analysis of archival data from clinical studies.

Contact: chmurphy@umbc.edu


Dr. Nkiru Nnawulezi

Research interests in intimate partner violence; community-based participatory research; survivor empowerment; housing instability; intersectionality; structural interventions. Teaching interests in community psychology; qualitative research methods;  community based participatory research; mixed methods.
Student Activities: Lit reviewing, feminist interviewing, community-based survey development, data management and analysis, manuscript preparation, academic and community data dissemination

Contact: nnawulez@umbc.edu


Dr. Steven Pitts

Evaluation and application of emerging analytical techniques, particularly as pertaining to longitudinal data analysis; risk and protective factors of young adult substance abuse, developmentally limited alcoholism, and intergenerational transmission of substance abusedisorders.

Student Activities: Interviewing participants, data entry and analysis, literature review, aspects of research development and design.

Contact: spitts@umbc.edu


Dr. Raimi Quiton

Biopsychosocial factors that affect pain perception and lead to disparities in chronic pain based on gender, ethnicity, and age. The use of neuroimaging to study the underlying neural mechanisms by which these factors influence pain processing in the brain. Current projects focus on biological factors such as sex and age; psychological factors such as optimism and emotion regulation;and socio cultural factors such as social isolation, ethnic identity, and discrimination. Collaborative projects include studies of the neural mechanisms of chronic migraine and of ethnic disparities in comorbid pain and PTSD.

Student Activities: Research participant recruitment and scheduling, data collection (questionnaires, sensory testing, neuroimaging), data entry and statistical analysis, library research, literature review writing, and opportunity to be involved in independent research projects that may lead to conference presentations and manuscript publications.

Contact: rquiton1@umbc.edu


Dr. Rebecca Schacht

Intersection of trauma exposure and addictive and other forms of health behavior, particularly among members of disadvantaged groups; training in clinical psychology and allied disciplines. Director of the UMBC Psychology Training Clinic

Contact: rschacht@umbc.edu


Dr. David Schultz

Social development in infancy and early family interventions that promote social competence and healthy development. Supporting families in poverty to meet children’s developmental needs.

Student Activities :

1) Student Activities : transcribe and code supervision sessions with home visitors; data entry.

2) requirements: 3.0 GPA

3) please reach out during the pre-registration period before the semester you would like to work.

Contact: dschultz@umbc.edu


Dr. Susan Sonnenschein

Factors that promote academic success for children from different racial/ethnic and SES backgrounds. Current research focuses primarily on young children’s math and literacy development and documents home and school experiences (including parent/teacher practices and beliefs) pertinent for educational success.

Student Activities: Assistance with coding and analyzing data, library research, interviewing parents/ children, assessing children’s competencies. Activities will take place virtually during COVID.

Contact: sonnensc@umbc.edu


Dr. Shuyan Sun

Modeling longitudinal data with complex structures, psychometrics, and meta-analysis. Children’s academic developmentin early school years, the role of school engagement in academic achievement, as well as formal and informal learning environments for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from K-12 to higher education.

Student Activities:  Literature search, recruiting participants, data cleaning, data management, statistical analysis, and conducting independent research projects. Please e-mail Dr. Sun if you love statistics And are interested in analyzing a large data set on the effects of social contexts on child development.

Contact: suns@umbc.edu


Dr. Shari Waldstein

The relation of cardiovascular risk factors and diseases to cognitive function, brain structure, and brain function. Biopsychosocial factors in the development of cardiovascular disease. How psychological factors influence acute, stress-induced cardiovascular responses. Race- and socioeconomic status – related health disparities in the prior associations.

Student Activities: Literature search, data coding, data entry, assisting graduate students, development of independent projects (as available).

Contact: waldstei@umbc.edu


Dr. Lira Yoon

Research Interests: Examines the interaction between cognition and emotion in the context of emotional disorders with three inter-related lines of research: (1) emotional information processing (e.g., interpretation, memory, executive function) in emotional disorders; (2) stress reactivity and recovery incorporating biological (e.g., cortisol, heart rate variability) and subjective measures; and (3) emotion regulation. Also interested in cross-cultural and racial/ethnic differences, focusing on Asian/Pacific Islander (API) populations.

Student Activities: Active participation in data collection, literature reviews, transcribing/coding videotapes, attending lab meetings. Advanced research assistants may be able to develop independent research projects in the lab and may be involved in conference presentations and manuscript preparation. Students who wish to gain research experience in preparation for graduate school are encouraged to apply.

Contact: lyoon@umbc.edu