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
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

Mentor: 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.

Mentor: 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.

Mentor: 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.

Mentor: 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.

Mentor: 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.

Mentor: Mansour Solaimanian

1 January 1, 2018 July 24, 2018

Project SIESTA (Study of Infants’ Emergent Sleep Trajectories)is a longitudinal study of (1) linkages between infant sleep quality during the first two years and infant socioemotional development (e.g., quality of infant-parent attachments, infant behavior problems and behavioral competencies); (2) how parenting of infants at bedtime and night time (from video-recordings), beginning at 1 month of age through 24 months, affects the development of infant sleep quality over time.

Mentor: Douglas Teti

Variable, depending on the semester January 1, 2018 July 24, 2018
Sleep, Social Information processing and child neglect and parenting

Current studies in the lab focus on sleep and its impact on parenting and social and neuro-cognition and child outcomes, aging out of foster care and homelessness and adult development, and the use of gaming technology to intervene to prevent childhood injury. The diversity of projects in the lab allows for a wide range of experiences for undergraduate research assistants. RAs learn about cognitive and neurocognitive tests, mother-child interaction patterns, and measurement of sleep and links to health. Undergraduate assistants may be trained to score standardized behavioral rating scales, enter data, conduct literature searches, and gain experience with statistical software. Exceptional students may participate in home visits with study participants. In addition, bi-weekly lab meetings provide a forum to discuss theory and clinical applications of the research and policy, to address any questions that arise from work in the lab, and provide career guidance.

Mentor: Sandra Azar

2-4 January 1, 2018 July 24, 2018
Smart Portable devices development

Hacking your smart device to help engineering education is
what this project is about. Integration of low cost sensors in
combination with existing sensors in smart portable devices to design
and develop experiments for student use in and out of the classroom.
You must be very handy and must have programming knowledge.

Mentor: Rungun Nathan

1 or 2 January 1, 2018 July 24, 2018
Social Behavior in Insects

We are looking for highly responsible and reliable undergraduate students to assist in several projects about social behavior in insects. We combine behavioral, physiological, chemical and genetic aspects to study the complex behaviors social insects exhibit. Students will be exposed to variety of scientific methods and will have the opportunity to work with live insects such as bumble bees. Students will be assigned to work with a graduate student and training will be given.


Mentor: Etya Amsalem

1-2 July 10, 2018 July 12, 2018