Professor Spotlights and Research Resources

Professor Spotlight Newsletters

Professor Spotlight Compilation Video

A special thanks to Eman Tarif for editing and compiling this Professor Spotlight Compilation Video!

Campus Programs that Facilitate Research Involvement

Campus Resources to Facilitate Research Involvement -- Honors

Recommended Courses

When speaking with professors, we noticed a common theme: coding, calculus, statistics and experimental psychology knowledge were required skills in many of the cognitive science research labs. Below, we have created a list of classes that can help you gain necessary skills to be successful in most labs, as well as some “teach your own” tips. We would like to emphasize this is a student made resource to summarize commonly heard information, these classes are not required by the Department of Cognitive Sciences, nor the Professors.

A Day in the Life of a Research Assistant

Learn about the experiences and advice from recent Research Assistants and see if research is right for you!

How to Contact Professors about Research Opportunities

Advice from Professor

“Have a look at the Professor’s website and read a couple of articles to see what you find interesting. Almost all professors are very delighted to have students who are genuinely interested in their research and motivated. In terms of reaching out to Professors for research, include a couple of paragraphs, what you are interested in and why, and relevant skills in your email.”

“If you are interested in working with a Professor go to their website, find 3 recent published papers, look and see which are the most interesting to you, and read them and try to understand them. In your email, include what you are interested in.”

“Definitely try emailing the Professor you are interested in working with, and do not get discouraged if you do not hear back immediately. If you do not hear back after a while, try checking in. If you get the opportunity to talk to the Professor, make sure that you understand why you want to join the lab, treat the conversation like an interview, and explain how you can contribute to the lab.”

“Make sure that you have a strong interest in the research conducted in the lab and to include a resume or cover letter when emailing Professors.”

Advice from Students

“Each lab has its own set of skills and expectations for student research assistants. Typically, lab pages will have a ‘Join us’ or ‘Opportunities to Get Involved’ that will contain this information. Keep this in mind when you are writing your resume so that you can highlight skills that align with the lab and consider whether this lab is a good fit for you.”

“Going into office hours is another potential way to talk to Professors about research, if you are genuinely interested in the topic they are studying.”

“If you are interested in getting involved in research, visit different lab websites and see which research topics pique your interest. Once you have narrowed down which labs you would like to join, email the Professor with your resume. Make sure to keep your email concise because Professors are very busy.”

“Read research papers before contacting Professors! You don’t have to understand everything (e.g., the Results section). For dipping your toes into the literature, key sections to read are the Abstract, Introduction, and Discussion sections. Make sure that you understand the big idea of the study.”

“Do not join a lab just so that it is an extra accomplishment to put on your resume, especially since you will be spending a good amount of time (sometimes up to 15 hours/week) working as a research assistant. I would highly recommend emailing a Professor if you are seriously interested in doing research so that this will be an interesting and rewarding experience. Make sure to emphasize this interest in your email, but also do not make it too long.”

Resources

UCI School of Social Sciences Social Sciences Academic Resource Center (SSARC)

One of the many services that SSARC offers for UCI students is connecting students to faculty-mentored research opportunities! Take advantage of the SSARC one-on-one consultations. SSARC advisors can help with editing your email and resume for reaching out to Professors about research opportunities. SSARC also offers events throughout the school year to inform students on a variety of topics ranging from tips for choosing a research topic and writing resumes.

UCI Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

UROP advisors help mentor students reach out to faculty and learn more about UROP opportunities at UCI. Check out UROP’s Drop-In Hours to ask a UROP advisor about any research-related questions you may have! UROP also offers workshops, including ones on how to get involved in research.

UCI Center for Excellence in Writing & Communication

The UCI Writing Center offers Writing Specialist Appointments, Peer Tutoring, and Email Consultations to help you with brainstorming ideas or getting in-depth feedback for any kind of writing you are working on.

Template Emails for Contacting Labs

The Cognitive Science Association Administrative Committee has created a page containing email templates for contacting Professors about lab positions as well as websites with information, please see below .

Campus Programs that Facilitate Research Involvement

The Cognitive Science Association Opportunities Committee has created a page containing UCI Campus Programs that can support students in initiating and continuing their research endeavors, see above.

Email Guides and Templates

Sample Email 1

Dear Dr. ______________,

My name is ______ and I am a (year) majoring in ______. I was looking at your webpage and I found ______ research project to be very interesting because of ______. I was wondering if we could schedule a time to talk about your research and any opportunities or potential positions in your lab.

(Research topic) interests me because of _____ and _____. I am available (times) and would be happy to stop by your office hours as well. If there is any information that you would like from me, I would be happy to provide it. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

(name)

Sample Email 2

Dear Dr./Professor (name),

My name is (name) and I am a (class year) majoring in (major). I am writing to ask about opportunities for undergraduate research in your lab for the upcoming (term). I looked over your webpage and was really interested in your research around (research topic). I was especially interested in your article “(Article Title),” because it (additional relevant information about the article).

Would it be possible to schedule a day and time to meet and further discuss (research topic) and my possible involvement in the research? My available times are (dates and times). I’ve also attached a copy of my CV/Resume below. Please let me know if you would like me to provide any additional information. I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely,

(name)

(contact information)

Cognitive Sciences Labs and Research Opportunities

Searching for opportunities to become involved in a lab? Here, you can find everything you need to know: professors and lab websites, their research focus, lab openings, how to apply, the skills required, and any supplementary materials requested by the professor.

Aaron Bornstein

Computational Cognitive Neuroscience Lab

Research Focus: Roles of episodic and working memory in decisions for reward, perceptual inference, addiction, and intertemporal choice

Alyssa Brewer

Lab for Visual Neuroscience

Research Focus: Visual neuroscience, human cortical organization and function, cortical plasticity

Nadia Chernyak

Development of Social Cognition Lab

Research Focus: Cognitive development, social cognition, prosocial behavior, moral cognition, agency and free will, conceptual development, reasoning

Jeffrey Krichmar

Cognitive Anteater Robotics Laboratory

Research Focus: Computational neuroscience, robotics

Emily Grossman

Visual Perception and Neuroimaging Lab

Research Focus: Neural basis of visual perception, biological motion perception

Micheal Lee

Bayesian Cognitive Modeling Lab

Research Focus: Modeling human decision making, collective cognition and the wisdom of the crowd, modeling memory with clinical applications, Bayesian statistical methods

Mimi Liljeholm

Learning & Decision Neuroscience Laboratory

Research Focus: Reinforcement learning, structure learning, neuroimaging, reasoning, decision making, addiction, social cognition, psychopathology

Ramesh Srinivasan

Human Neuroscience Lab

Research Focus: Cognitive neuroscience, decision making, motor learning, and modeling EEG signals, perception, attention consciousness, brain dynamics

Megan Peters

Cognitive & Neural Computation Lab

Research Focus: Perception, metacognition, consciousness, modeling

Barbara Sarnecka

Cognitive Development Lab

Research Focus: Developmental social cognition, exploration, decision making, early math learning

Ginny Richards

Hearing Lab

Research Focus: Auditory perception and psychophysics

Lisa Pearl

Computation of Language Laboratory

Research Focus: Language development, computational & mathematical modeling, natural language processing, computational sociolinguistics

Micheal D'Zmura

Cognitive NeuroSystems Lab

Research Focus: Vision, hearing and EEG studies of speech and attention

Joachim Vandekerckhove

Cognition and Individual Differences Lab

Research Focus: Modeling of cognition and individual differences, Bayesian statistics, and implementation and deployment of useful computational algorithms

Charles E. (Ted) Wright

Chubb-Wright Lab

Research Focus: Camoflauge, texture discrimination, Hick's law, speed-accuracy tradeoff