In our department, Undergraduate Research Assistants (URAs) are students currently enrolled at UVM (typically majoring in Psychological Science) who assist faculty with their ongoing research programs. URAs are an integral part of research at UVM. Becoming a URA is an excellent way to gain hands-on experience in the field of psychology. URA experience looks great on a resume and in graduate school applications, and it helps students develop transferable skills that are useful for a wide variety of career outcomes.

Finding a Position as an Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA)

All URAs need a faculty advisor. The following faculty in Psychological Science currently have active research labs and often supervise undergraduate research assistants:

Faculty Name


Research Interests

Jamie Abaied

Parenting, Coping, Race and Racism

Alexis Brieantalexis.brieant@uvm.eduAdversity, Environmental Stressors, and Youth Development

Keith Burt

Adolescence, Risk, Resilience

Antonio Cepeda-Benito

Smoking Cessation, Body Image, Food Cravings

John Green

Neurobiology, Conditioning, Behavior

Sayamwong (Jom) Hammack

Neurobiology, Stress, Emotion, Resilience

Betsy Hoza

Child ADHD Prevention, Treatment

Amy Hughes Lansing

Youth & Family Health, Biobehavioral Intervention

Dianna (Annie) Murray-Close

Social Development, Aggression

Elizabeth Pinel

I-Sharing, Isolation, Connection, Eating

Matthew Price

Traumatic Stress & Anxiety, Technology

Kelly Rohan

Mood, Seasonal Affective Disorder

Alice Schermerhorn

Family Relationships, Adjustment, Temperament

Erin Shoulberg

Child ADHD, Physical Activity

Timothy Stickle

Child Antisocial/Aggressive Behaviors

Eric Thrailkill

Learning, Behavior Regulation

Travis Todd

Behavior, Neurobiology, Learning

Donna Toufexis

Sex Differences, Stress Responses, Habits

Keep in mind that the availability of URA positions in faculty labs varies widely over time. A lab with multiple ongoing data collections will likely have more need of URAs than a lab that is focusing on project development or data analysis.

We recommend reading about each faculty’s research expertise on our department website (see the links above). Some faculty also have separate lab websites, which should be linked on their faculty webpage. You may also benefit from looking up their most recent published articles to learn more about what their research entails.

Once you identify one or more faculty whose research interests you, check their website to see whether they have a URA application form posted for students to complete. Then send them a brief, polite email that contains the following:

  • Introduce yourself (name, class year at UVM, etc.)
  • State that you are interested in gaining research experience and would like to know if there are any open positions for URAs in the faculty’s research lab.
  • If they have an application form on their website, fill it out and attach it to your email.
  • If they do not have an application form, briefly describe why you think this lab is a good fit for you.

Most faculty ask students to then either fill out an application that is specific to their lab, complete a one-on-one interview, or both. Because we have so many students interested in research, obtaining a URA position can be competitive. It is fine to apply to more than one lab!

How Undergraduate Research Assistantships Work

There are two options for URAs. Students should discuss these options with their faculty advisor to determine the best fit.

Regardless of whether you are registered for credits or volunteering, you must commit to being an engaged and dependable member of the lab.

The specific work that you will do varies widely between research labs. Some examples of common research tasks assigned to URAs include (but are not limited to) data processing and coding, assisting with study development, preparing materials for research studies, recruiting research participants, running data collections, and conducting literature searches on topics related to the lab’s current projects.

  1. Register for a section of PSYS 2995: Undergraduate Research (instructor permission needed). Most students choose this option.
    • Depending on the needs of the lab and student availability, students may register for 1, 2, or 3 credits. 1 credit = 3-4 hours of work per week, 2 credits = 6-8 hours of work per week, 3 credits = 9-12 hours of work per week.
    • PSYS 2995 counts toward the Psychological Science B.S. degree requirements. For B.A. students, PSYS 2995 counts as an elective. Both B.S. and B.A. students will receive a letter grade for the course.
    • Students and faculty mentors will fill out and sign an Undergraduate Research Form. This documents the expectations for what, when, where, and how students will complete their work in the lab. Faculty will also indicate how the work is graded and what types of assignments students must complete in addition to their practical work in the lab (e.g., papers, presentations).
    • Keep in mind that even if it looks like there are seats open, PSYS 2995 is not a traditional course. As noted above, faculty may only have enough research tasks available for a small number of students.
    • PSYS 2995 is a repeatable course. Please note that BA students must not exceed 45 credits in PSYS and BS students must not exceed 50 credits in PSYS.
  2. Volunteer your time
    • Some (but not all) faculty allow students to volunteer their time in the lab rather than register for credits. This is a good option for students who would like to get some exposure to how research is conducted, but who do not have room in their schedule for PSYS 2995.
    • Volunteers typically commit to a certain number of hours of lab work per week, but are not required to complete graded work and will not receive course credit. Volunteering can be listed as research experience on a resume.
    • If you are volunteering, keep in mind that the quality and quantity of your work in the lab is still just as important as if you were being graded.

Can I get paid to do research or fund my own project?

There are funding opportunities for undergraduate research at UVM; they are competitive, but many PSYS majors in the past have successfully applied for funding for their research. Keep in mind that these opportunities require a faculty mentor, and being a URA in a faculty’s lab does not guarantee their availability to mentor an independent research project.

APLE Award (through CAS)

Office of Fellowships, Opportunities, and Undergraduate Research (FOUR)

Still have questions?

Students with further questions about becoming a URA should either check in with their academic advisor in Psychological Science or contact Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Jamie Abaied, at