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
Develop an Apparatus to Mechanically Test Biological Tissues

We will develop an apparatus to test the mechanical properties of soft tissues at high rates of loading. We will design and then eventually build the device.

Faculty: Reuben Kraft

1 January 1, 2018 July 2, 2018
Development of Gender and Racial Stereotyping, Consequences of Stereotyping, Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities (especially Spatial Tasks), Computers in Education

I am a social and developmental psychologist who specializes in the study of gender and other aspects of social cognition and the development of stereotyping. My studies have involved children, adolescents, and adults. Students who participate in my research projects are usually introduced to several aspects of research. First, the students participate in the development of research materials and pilot testing of procedures. One semester's group, for example, worked with me to select pictures for use in a study on memory for gender-stereotyped information. Second, the students have judged subjects' memory responses or stories for gender-stereotyped content, or have scored performances on spatial tasks. Third, the students learn how to use computers and statistics, including SPSS, in research. Finally, the students receive some experience in doing library research and literature reviews. More advanced students can design and conduct their own studies.

Faculty: Margaret L. Signorella

1 - 5 per year January 1, 2018 January 18, 2018
Ecology of mosquitoes in woodland settings as related to West Nile virus transmission in ruffed grouse

The Veterinary Entomology Laboratory is looking for undergraduate research students interested in zoonotic disease transmission. Ruffed grouse populations in Pennsylvania are susceptible to West Nile virus, but little of the ecology of the mosquito and habitat is known. The student would be assisting in data collection and able to develop their own project in relation to woodland habitats and mosquito transmission of West Nile virus. For more information on VEL, please visit http://www.machtingerlab.com

Faculty: Erika Machtinger

2 January 1, 2018 July 5, 2018
Ecology of Plant-Insect Interactions

We are interested in interactions between plants and plant-feeding insects. Plants may be rooted to the ground, but they are far from helpless victims and use a remarkable array of tactics to defend themselves from insects and other attackers. We study different aspects of plant-insect interactions, using a combination of laboratory and field work with both agriculturally important crop plants and native plant species. We are interested in the defensive pathways triggered by different types of plant-feeding insects including the ability of plants to recruit bodyguards (e.g., predatory insects) that can kill feeding insects. We are also interested in how insect species find their preferred host-plant species and whether this preference is influenced by other insect species. Our research tools tend to include behavioral bioassays, feeding trials, and analyses of plant chemistry. The ultimate goal of our lab is to better understand how populations of plant-feeding insects are regulated so that we may develop ecologically sound insect pest management tactics.

Faculty: John Tooker

2 January 1, 2018 January 18, 2018
Engineering Leadership Development

Engineering Leadership Program seeks a passionate research assistant with excellent attention to detail to join our research team to support rigorous research and program evaluation. We are investigating on the engineering undergraduate students' leadership attributes such as self-awareness, global-view, ethical-awareness, creativity and teamwork skills, and their leadership competency. In addition, we are working on the case study project of Big 10 universities' engineering education programs and activities.

Faculty: Jay Amicangelo

2 August 1, 2018 July 19, 2018
Environmental monitoring through digital photography

This independent study is a long-term citizen science “Picture Post” to take regular panoramic photos at
four places on campus to document environmental changes taking place due to construction and other campus uses over time. This environmental baseline of images will serve as the foundation for continuous monitoring of our campus environment and as a foundation for undergraduate research projects for years to come. This Picture Post project was also specifically mentioned in the recently-completed campus strategic plan and allows students to monitor and be stewards of our campus lands.

Faculty: Laura Guertin

1-2 January 1, 2018 January 18, 2018
Environmental stress and how children and families adapt to it

Our work in this lab focuses on environmental stress and how children and families adapt to it. We are particularly interested in discovering sources of resiliency in children and their families and using this information to build programs to strengthen children and families who face stress. We focus on coping, self-regulation, and family support in our basic and applied research studies. Students can receive independent study credit (generally, one hour of credit is given for every three hours of work per week) or can volunteer.

Faculty: Martha Wadsworth

6 January 1, 2018 January 18, 2018
Epigenetic studies in plants

assisting theoretical biologists in Mackenzie Lab with genome data and epigenomic modeling. Projects integrate phenotype data, gene expression data, and epigenetic data to identify gene networks underlying plant memory.

Faculty: Sally Mackenzie

2-4 January 1, 2018 January 18, 2018
Evolution of the nervous system

We are looking for highly motivated undergraduates interested in neurobiology to contribute to a variety of projects centering on the evolution of neuronal structure and signaling pathways. Successful applicants will learn a variety of skills such as molecular cloning, transgenic animal production, live cell imaging, electrophysiology and quantitative data analysis. The lab has a strong track record for student publication and lab alumni have gone on to graduate/professional school in the biomedical field.

Faculty: Timothy Jegla

4 January 1, 2018 January 18, 2018
Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics

Dr. Tanya Renner and members of her laboratory explore evolutionary patterns and processes that drive functional diversification. We are particularly interested in how multi-species interactions (plant-insect and insect-predator) shape diversity on a genome-wide scale and influence form and function. Our research combines applied molecular biology with next-generation sequencing, bioinformatics, and phylogenetics. We use plants and insects as models to study adaptation and current projects focus on the evolution of chemical and structural defenses.

The research program focuses on three integrated components: (1) an examination of the underlying genetics both linking and separating chemical defense and nutrient acquisition in plants, (2) investigations of plant structural defense mechanisms and adaptations for insect capture, and (3) studies of chemical defense and detection in insects. Topics we are investigating:

  • Co-option and molecular diversity of enzymes used in plant carnivory.
  • Plant form and function, including morphological adaptations for insect capture.
  • Evolutionary mechanisms behind insect defense, host preference and detection.

Faculty: Tanya Renner

2-3 June 21, 2018 June 21, 2018