Research Opportunities Database

Search to find Penn State faculty members looking to fill open undergraduate researcher positions.

A form for faculty members interested in posting an opportunity can be found at Post an Opportunity.

Title Number of opportunities Posted Last Updated
Molecular Neuroscience

Genetic and molecular analysis of neural function and neurodegenerative disease mechanisms.

Faculty: Richard Ordway

4 January 1, 2018 July 24, 2018
Mushroom Phorid Fly Research

We are looking for one or two undergrad Research Assistants to work as part of a team in the Entomology Department (Merkle Lab, Orchard Road). The main focus of these positions will be the screening of registered biopesticide products for efficacy against mushroom flies. Undergrads will be trained in experimental techniques, including bioassays, experimental design, data collection, and analysis. Research assistants will also assist with maintenance of the mushroom fly cultures, and collection of mushroom fly eggs, larvae and pupae from the colony for use in experiments. Research Assistants will be given the opportunity to assist with field studies in Kennet Square (Mushroom capitol of the USA) depending on availability to spend multiple days off campus. These opportunities are available for either Independent Research Credits, or paid wage payroll positions.

Faculty: Nina Jenkins

2 August 27, 2018 July 13, 2018
Neurobiology: Synaptic Transmission

Chemical synaptic transmission serves a crucial function in the nervous system by mediating transmission and integration of information carried by electrical signals in nerve cells. We are taking a forward genetic approach using the model system, Drosophila melanogaster, to investigate the in vivo molecular mechanisms of synaptic transmission.

Faculty: Fumiko Kawasaki

1 January 1, 2018 July 24, 2018
Physiology and ecology of deep sea corals & temporal change in hydrothermal vent communities in the Western Pacific

Currently research in my laboratory is centered around two projects. One is focused on the physiology and ecology of deep-sea corals and the other examining temporal change in hydrothermal vent communities in the Western Pacific. We have a long-term project underway using digital still images to follow the recovery of deep-sea corals that were impacted by the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. In addition, we are conducting laboratory experiments and analysis of corals collected from the sea floor to investigate the responses of corals, and their associated microbes, to oil and dispersant exposure. These later experiments are conducted in collaboration with Dr. Iliana Baums and her laboratory group.

Collaborative projects with other laboratories involve using molecular techniques to examine ecological and phylogenetic questions, and mathematical techniques to model life histories and community interactions. All projects involve data analysis and reporting.

Finally, beginning with our research expedition in April 2016, we are conducting a study to examine temporal changes in a dynamic hydrothermal vent community located in the Western Pacific, between Tonga and Fiji. In this project we will be looking for additional students to assist with image-based community analyses. We are interested in undergraduate students who are willing and able to commit themselves to working with us for at least one year, and at least 10-12 hours a week during that time. We expect students to become reliable and productive members of our research team and participate in laboratory meetings and reading groups as well as work in the laboratory. We have found that lesser levels of commitment prove unsatisfactory for both the students and the research projects leading to frustration for everyone. In return for hard work, students are given training, experience, research credits, and in some cases financial support over the summer. Most of our work is accomplished in the laboratory; however, on average 2 of the most committed undergraduate students participate in research cruises each year.

Faculty: Charles Fisher

4-8 January 1, 2018 July 24, 2018
Quality Talk Research Assistant

The Quality Talk (QT) research team in the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education (EPCSE) is conducting federally funded innovative research within multi-level and interdisciplinary/cross-curricular classroom settings. Quality Talk involves using student-focused argumentation as a tool for building understanding and co-constructing knowledge. Through this authentic discussion process students develop critical thinking skills and deepen their epistemic cognition in addition to enhancing their high-level comprehension of the subject matter. We are looking for highly motivated, goal-oriented, and dependable student volunteers that want to learn about QT and gain valuable research experience. As part of the QT team, the research assistant volunteers can enhance their resume and become better prepared for graduate studies. In addition, they can apply to earn independent research credits. The ideal candidates possess strong communication and analytical skills, attention to detail, and the ability to follow strong research standards when working with confidential data. Previous research experience and familiarity with video coding is a plus, but not required. The research assistant volunteers must commit to a minimum of 2 semesters and 10 hours per week. Responsibilities include but are not limited to video reviewing, naming and coding; data de-identification and organization; assisting with literature researches; proofreading materials; and assisting graduate students as needed. CITI training is required prior to starting (instructions will be provided). If interested, please submit your resume/CV and letter of interest to

Faculty: P. Karen Murphy

undefined January 1, 2018 July 24, 2018
Refactoring CiteSeerX: building a portable database free search engine

We refactor CiteSeerX to make it easier to deploy by keeping all information on the search platform. We also redesign the ingestion code to increase the throughput by a factor of 5.

Faculty: Jian Wu

1 January 1, 2018 July 24, 2018
Rheological Characterization of Crumb Rubber Modified Asphalt Binder

When ground tire rubber (GTR) is added to the asphalt binder, it changes its characteristics and engineering properties. This research will focus on changes in rheological properties of GRT modified binder. Rehological testing includes determination of properties of binder at low, intermediate, and high temperature. Multiple Stress Creep and Recovery, Linear Amplitude Sweep, Rotational Viscosity, Bending Beam, and torsional tests will be used to evaluate the change in properties.

Faculty: Mansour Solaimanian

1 January 1, 2018 July 24, 2018
Root Trait Discovery for Abiotic Stress Tolerance

Apply novel field, greenhouse, and imaging techniques and methods to understand how root anatomy and architecture affects crop growth under drought and low fertility soils. Students will have opportunities to gain experience in laser ablation imaging of root tissues, image analysis, measuring and processing biological samples, and more! Laboratory and/or biology experience is helpful but not necessary.

Roots of the Second Green Revolution

Work with us in the lab, field, and greenhouse to discover root traits that enable crops to grow under drought and with inadequate mineral nutrients. Students will work with graduate student researchers to test new hypotheses, observe and measure plant growth, conduct lab analysis, and analyze and interpret data.

Please contact Dr. Lynch (, and graduate students Chris Strock (, Stephanie Klein (, Catherine Hoover (, and Miranda Niemiec ( if interested.

Faculty: Jay Amicangelo

1-5 January 24, 2018 January 24, 2018
Semiflexible Conjugated Polymers

Conjugated polymers find uses in flexible electronic devices, such as solar cells. This class of polymer has chains that are naturally more rigid than standard flexible-chain polymers. Rigidity means that the polymers entangle more easily but also crystallize and perhaps form nematic phases above their melting point. Together with Professors Enrique Gomez and Scott Milner (both in Chemical Engineering) we aim to develop a better fundamental understanding of semiflexible conjugated polymers, using a combination of computer simulations and experiments.

Faculty: Ralph Colby

3 January 1, 2018 July 24, 2018
Shingles in Asphalt

Disposed roofing shingles are rich in asphalt. So, it is of economical benefit to use shingles in asphalt concrete because of this high binder content. This will also benefit the environment as a demolished construction material is being used back in construction. However, shingle binder is very still and its use in pavement is limited. This research will focus on increasing the amount of shingle that can be used in asphalt using rejuvenators. The tools used to determine the quality of the asphalt concrete containing shingles will be decided based on performance tests to capture various engineering properties.

Faculty: Mansour Solaimanian

1 January 1, 2018 July 24, 2018