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
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
Computational Astrophysics

I mainly study massive star winds that are driven by radiation. However, it involves significant amount of numerical computation, visualization and analysis of data. However, I am seeking student involvements in a wide range of other topics that require numerical computations/computer modeling. For example, supernovae, accretion disks, solar winds, planetary magnetospheres (like Jupiter) etc. I have experience with a number of different astrophysical numerical codes such as Zeus-MP, FLASH, PLUTO, AMRVAC. Most of them use Fortran, but PLUTO uses C programming language. These codes are very versatile and I will be happy to guide any interested student in learning and applying these tools. An ideal student will be familiar with Unix/Linux type of computer operating system, know scientific programming language (Fortran, C, C++), or other script languages (Perl, Python etc). Having a strong calculus background will also be helpful.

Faculty: Asif ud-Doula

1-4 January 1, 2018 July 18, 2018
Context and Development Lab (CDL) – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Description of Research: Research interests in the lab involve understanding how context shapes adolescents' development and how race, ethnicity, and other cultural attributes interact with contextual characteristics to influence adolescent outcomes. Past projects in the lab (FAN-C: Families, Adolescents, and Neighborhoods in Context; PLACES/LUGARES) have explored the roles of different contexts such as residential neighborhood, school, family, etc. on African American and Latino adolescent's academic outcomes as well as other beliefs (e.g., educational attainment and cultural values and behaviors (e.g., deviance, substance use). Our current projects are ENLACES/TIES, a collaborative project with Dr. Mayra Bamaca designed to explore family, peer, and neighborhood influences on youth behaviors, as well as a qualitative data analysis project analyzing parent and youth focus groups for major themes related to parenting and neighborhood and race/ethnicity-related experiences.

Opportunities for undergraduates in this lab include assisting with data collection (e.g., preparing research materials, interacting with adolescents, entering and coding data) and analysis (e.g., running descriptive statistics and simple analyses, preparing data manuals, conducting literature searches, and completing annotated bibliographies). Students are also trained in working with qualitative data - a unique experience in the Psychology department at Penn State! Other lab tasks may be assigned as needed. Publication and honors thesis research possibilities exist.

Method of Compensation: Research assistants may apply for PSY 494 or HDFS 496 course credit or work on a volunteer basis. Participation provides valuable experience, training in important research-related skills, and a reference base for those considering graduate studies.

Requirements/Qualifications: Because of the nature and training involved with the study, we ask for a minimum overall GPA of 3.3 and a minimum commitment of at least 2 semesters. Students are required to spend 10 hours per week involved in lab-related activities, including a 1.5 hour weekly lab/coding meeting which research assistants are required to attend.

Bilingualism (i.e., Spanish) is strongly desired but not required.

Summer opportunities are available.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Context and Development lab, please complete the Undergraduate Research Application (available online: and email it to Dr. Witherspoon, OR, with the subject: Context and Development Lab Undergraduate RA application.

Faculty: Dawn Witherspoon

10 July 16, 2018 July 17, 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
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.


Faculty: Etya Amsalem

1-2 July 10, 2018 July 12, 2018
Machine Learning and Big Data

Exploration of the automated discovery of knowledge within data using a combination of information extraction, natural language processing, and machine learning methods such as deep learning.

Faculty: C Lee Giles

a few January 1, 2018 July 11, 2018
Deep Learning

Recurrent deep learning methods are changing what we can do in artificial intelligence. We are exploring problems in text, coding, and sequence understanding.

Faculty: C Lee Giles

TBD January 1, 2018 July 11, 2018
Gene Regulation and Cancer Enzymes

Our laboratory is interested in how genes are turned off or on since such regulation is altered in cancer cells. Our goal is to determine how gene regulation complexes work using both biochemical and structural biology approaches. A focus of the lab is to determine the three-dimensional structure of epigenetic and chromatin complexes by X-ray crystallography and cryoelectron microscopy. Current undergraduate projects include (a) coexpression of protein complexes in E. coli and insect cells, (b) affinity purification of proteins, and (c) characterizing chromatin enzymes through chromatin enzyme activity and nucleosome binding assays.

A recent undergraduate driven project is our DNA ladder project to provide a simple and inexpensive source of DNA molecular weight markers to the molecular biology community.

Undergraduates who work in our lab gain valuable experience using cutting-edge technologies to study important biomedical problems. Our philosophy is to encourage undergraduates to learn new techniques while developing critical thinking and troubleshooting skills.

Faculty: Song Tan

4 January 1, 2018 July 11, 2018
Health Disparities & Physical Activity Research (HDPAR) Lab

The lab is accepting applications for the 2018-2019 academic year (fall, spring, summer).

Undergraduate interns will gain a mentored experience in research related activities, including organizing and processing research data, conducting literature reviews and writing scientific publications, recruiting research participants, assisting with data collection activities and health assessments, and more.

Faculty: Scherezade Mama

2 January 1, 2018 July 10, 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

Faculty: Erika Machtinger

2 January 1, 2018 July 5, 2018