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Student Research Academy

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About the Student Research Academy

If you’re a BYU junior or senior in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences and are a member of a group that is typically under-represented in graduate school (e.g., low income, first generation), we want you to apply to the FHSS Student Research Academy!

As an Academy student, you’ll work with a faculty member who is interested in building a mentoring relationship with you as you participate in their research project. You’ll also benefit from a structured Academy experience where you meet regularly with other Academy students and faculty for additional support as you prepare for graduate school and a career in academia or research. We believe participating in the FHSS Student Research Academy will provide experiences to help you make educated decisions about your future and put your best foot forward when applying for graduate school.

Benefits of the Student Research Academy:

  • Receive a total of $1,000 scholarship ($500 in Fall semester and $500 in Winter semester)
  • Be hired as a paid research assistant to work with a faculty member (on average 5–10 hours per week at $13.5 per hour)
  • As part of this paid position, participate in the research process and gain valuable experience in data collection, analysis, and visualization as you work with a faculty mentor
  • Prepare for graduate school as you attend a 1-credit Academy class in Fall and a poster presentation at the Mary Lou Fulton Mentored Student Research Conference in Winter semester
    — you’ll connect with resources for GRE prep, for resume or CV creation, and for applying to and preparing for graduate programs
    — you will learn how to prepare presenting a research project at the Mary Lou Fulton Mentored Student Research Conference
  • Add to your resume or CV as you present your research in a poster at the Mary Lou Fulton Mentored Student Research Conference in April
  • Enjoy an annual banquet to celebrate Academy students and highlight their research presentations

It’s easy to apply — here’s how:

  1. Identify research you want to be involved in or a professor you would like to work with. Carefully consider which projects listed below might best fit your interests. If you are already working with a faculty member on research, that’s great — you may still apply, just specify that you’d like to continue to work with that faculty member while in the program. If you need help connecting to a faculty member or research project, see below for a list of available faculty and research by department.
  2. Fill out and submit the application by May 31, noting at least two faculty members with whom you would be interested in working.
  3. Once accepted, enroll in the 1-credit FHSS Student Research Academy course (FHSS 251R in Fall and Winter semesters). Times of available Academy classes are found in the application.

Application Deadline: May 31, 2024

Professors who have partnered with the Student Research Academy
Anthropology
Economics
Family Life
Geography
History
Political Science
Psychology
Social Work
Sociology

James Allison

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Archaeology in the western U.S.; Computer modeling in archaeologyNone

Jacob Hickman

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Visual anthropology (ethnographic film, photography, and sound); morality, sovereignty movements, migration, Southeast Asia, Hmong diasporaNone

Greg Thompson

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Language and education; Korean culture and psychosocial concepts of social awareness; Political polarization in the U.S.; Latinx language practices vis a vis schooling; disadvantaged communities in the U.S.None

Lars Lefgren

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Education, crime, and statistical methodsB average in econ classes and concurrent enrollment in (or completed) Econ 388

Christian vom Lehn

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Macroeconomics and Labor EconomicsMentees must have completed Econ 378, Econ 380, Econ 381, and Econ 388 with a B- or better. I have a strong preference for completing Econ 398 as well (most of my current/past RAs have completed this course as well).

Emily Leslie

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Criminal justiceEcon 388 (or Python experience) preferred

C. Arden Pope, III

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Air pollution and healthNone

Jaren Pope

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Environmental Economics, Urban Economics, Behavioral EconomicsNo prerequisits, but bi-weekly meetings and written report of work done in advance

Joe Price

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Economic History + Machine LearningEcon 388 (or Python experience) preferred

Olga Stoddard

Research Interests:Requirements:
Gender and racial discrimination, labor economicsPrefer if they have had Econ 388

Riley Wilson

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Migration, Safety Net Programs, Government programs directed to low-income households, labor market decisions.Completed Econ 388 and Econ 380

Roy Bean

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Evaluation of research quality/quantity focusing on ethnic/racial minoritiesThey should be grad school bound or at least open to the idea

Andrea Kinghorn Busby

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Research Interests:Requirements:
I research how social inequality relates to children's development. This includes (1) how parents teach their children about economic inequality and how that relates to children's attitudes and behaviors towards others. In this area of research, I run the Festivals Project with Dr. Ashley Fraser where we look intersectionally at how parents teach their children about race and socioeconomic status together. My other area of research (2) examines how neighborhoods shape children's development (including neighborhood violence and neighborhood wealth and poverty). In these two areas of research I have a variety of tasks for mentees depending on their experience, skills, desire, and motivation. These tasks include research design, writing, and data analysis.Students should expect to attend weekly meetings. Students should have already taken or commit to take these classes while they are working with me: SFL 290 and SFL 305 (or equivalent courses in your major). Students will participate in the Fulton poster conference.

Dean Busby

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Sexuality, Couple RelationshipsNone

Sarah Coyne

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Body image, social mediaNo prerequisites, but expected to attend a weekly meeting, usually Mondays at 4pm.

Jeff Dew

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Money and family life. Marital deception. Any interesting marriage-related question really.That they have had an intro stats and methods class

Ashley Fraser

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Hope, empathy, prosocial behavior, race and racism, economic inequalityNone

Ashley Larsen Gibby

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Research Interests:Requirements:
I have two that are separate: 1) gender ideology/gender attitudes, 2) adoptionIt is helpful for my mentees to either take SFL 305 or do a data bootcamp with me in the summer. But I can work with them if that's not the case.

Alex Jensen

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Sibling relationships; autismNone

Chelom Leavitt

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Sexuality, mindfulnessSome stats knowledge would be helpful

Ashley LeBaron-Black

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Money management in couple relationships; teaching kids about moneyHave taken a research methods class, an upper-level writing class, and a statistics class

Nathan Leonhardt

Research Interests:Requirements:
I focus on expanding our understanding of high quality relationships. Some of the specific areas I focus on are sexuality, religion, and virtue.Preferably have taken a basic statistics and research methods course, but not required

Larry Nelson

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Flourishing and floundering in the transition to adulthoodNone

Peter Reschke

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Research Interests:Requirements:
My research focuses on how young children learn about emotions and how to respond to them. Such emotion competence is vital for healthy social adjustment and functioning.None

Daye Son

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Dr. Son’s research focuses on adolescent development within parent-child contexts. Central to her research is examining (a) bi-directionality in parent-youth relationships and (b) sociocultural factors that shape these dynamics. Her current work employs longitudinal quantitative methods to analyze parent-youth interactions in U.S. Latinx families.None

Jocelyn Wikle

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Family policySuccessfully completed a college-level writing course. Would need to commit to at least 5 hours each week.

Jeremy Yorgason

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Young couples managing type 1 diabetes, or older couples managing chronic illnessA desire to learn how to conduct research

Mat Bekker

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Tree-ring science, including applications in historical archaeology and climatologyJust an interest in learning and willingness to pay attention to detail

Dave Simpson

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Current funded research includes an examination of the role dogs play in college student anxiety, stress, and depression. Other topics: Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) including canine and equine therapy; hazards and disasters in Utah; and Planning approaches to regional issuesWillingness to complete HIPPA and IRB training modules

Jay Buckley

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Research Interests:Requirements:
I am researching topics related to the American West: Mexican and Latino sheepherders in Utah; Africans and Indigenous fur trappers and traders; etc.Seeking motivated students willing to work.

Ignacio Garcia

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Latino issues and historical writingNone

David-James Gonzales

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Latine/x politics and social movements; US immigration policy and race.None

Leslie Hadfield

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Pioneers in AfricaA History or History and Social Science Teaching Major would be ideal

Jeff Hardy

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Prisons globally from 1919 to 1939Strong preference for history or sociology majors

Amy Harris

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Early 19th century British labor and household structures. History of genealogical practices in 18th century England. Specifically looking at how the poor and the wealthy often had different reasons for remembering/recording their family history, but there are places where they used them in similar ways.Ability to read 19th and late 18th century handwriting. Or at least the willingness to learn

Christopher Jones

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Early American History, Family History and Genealogy, History of Religion in America, History of Slavery and the Slave Trade, Latter-day Saint HistoryNone

Kirk Larsen

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Research Interests:Requirements:
East Asian foreign relations; history; imperialismNone

Matthew Mason

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Research Interests:Requirements:
The politics of slavery in 18th- and 19th-century Britain and the United StatesI would be more interested in mentoring them in their own research, as is the norm in History, than having them help with mine

Aaron Skabelund

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Modern Japanese history generally, hunting in the Japanese empire specifically, and memory of the colonization of HokkaidoNone

Joseph Stuart


Research interests:Requirements:
African American history, particularly of the relationship between race, masculinity, civil rights, and religion in twentieth-century Black Freedom Movements; Black families and kinships across the African diaspora.None

Lisa Argyle

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Political Discussion, Political Psychology, Public OpinionSome background in quantitative data, surveys, or experiments would be useful, but is not required

Celeste Beesley

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Political impacts of economic insecurity or the war in UkraineNone

Ethan Busby

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Extremism, political psychology, survey research, and experimentsResponsiveness! But no formal coursework requirements

Adam Dynes

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Research Interests:Requirements:
I like to study how elected officials in the US represent their constituents and what factors influence how they do this. A lot of my work (including most of the projects I have right now) on these topics focus on politicians in cities and towns, but I've done research on this topic on Congress, state legislatures, and (with a project in process) K-12 school boards. Several of my recent and ongoing projects examine how electoral institutions (like whether a city has nonpartisan elections or holds them at weird times of the year) impact how well elected officials line up with their constituents in terms of their partisanship, policy views, gender, and/or race/ethnicity.For political science majors, I need them to have at least taken POLI 200. I would prefer if they have also taken POLI 328, but it's okay if they haven't but will be taking it in the fall. For non political science majors, they need to have taken a course on research design and one on statistical analyses.

Darren Hawkins

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Public support for democracy and improving government decision-making in development, especially in Latin AmericaPoli 200 and an interest in statistics and my topics

Kirk Hawkins

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Polarization, PopulismThey should have taken POLI 150 or POLI 110

Chris Krewson

Research Interests:Requirements:
I am interested in how people think about judges and judging, including how political events shape people's views of the judiciary. I am working on a project that analyzes the extent to which the public has been socialized into accepting judicial norms that may conflict with other political values, including support for judicial independence, respect for past decisions, and the like.Skilled in R and text analysis

David Romney

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Conspiracy theories and state media in the Arab Middle East
  • For students interested in doing coding and statistical analysis work, POLI 328 or equivalent courses—e.g. ECON 378/388, or any course that introduces students to statistical analysis and/or statistical programming skills. NOTE: No Arabic language necessary!
  • For students interested in analyzing the Arabic content, completion of the Arabic-language study abroad required.

Darin Self

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Democracy and Authoritarianism
None

Wendy Birmingham

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Health PsychologyNone

Kara Duraccio

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Research Interests:Requirements:
I have focused my research efforts on (a) uncovering risk factors for insufficient sleep in youth, (b) understanding the mental, behavioral, and physical health consequences of obtaining insufficient sleep, (c) developing innovative methods for measuring and manipulating diet, physical activity, and sleep outcomes, and (d) creating effective pediatric obesity interventions.I prefer they have taken a research-design class

Sam Hardy

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Religious conversion, deconversion, reconversionIdeally one-year commitment

Chad Jensen

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Pediatric psychology including obesity, diabetes, and sleep health promotionNone

Daniel Kay

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Research Interests:Requirements:
SleepNone

Brock Kirwan

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Cognitive neuroscience of memory and decision makingI prefer they have taken research methods, stats, and writing courses

Michael Larson

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Research Interests:Requirements:
EEG and cognitive control functionsStudent needs to be reliable and willing to go to the University Parkway Center (UPC) building for data collection

Tricia Merkley

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Brain injury and neuropsychologyThey should be able to commit weekly to at least 10 hours/week of work for at least 1 year

Jared Nielsen

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Research Interests:Requirements:
In my lab, we are interested in answering questions about the organization of the brain and how neurological and psychiatric illnesses disrupt its organization. To answer these questions, we use a variety of analytical techniques to extract quantitative information from MRI scans. We currently have projects that investigate how the brain is affected in patients with autism, OCD, and mood and anxiety disorders. Our hope is that the information we learn as scientists will inform and improve the way clinicians diagnose and treat their patients.Just an excitement to do research!

Ben Ogles

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Psychotherapy Research and Psychotherapy TrainingNeed to be available for lab meeting each week

Bob Ridge

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Media effects on affect, behavior, and cognitionThey should have taken the Psychology department methods core and Psych 350

Chelsea Romney

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Classroom interventions for learning and inclusionNone

Sandie Sephton

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Mechanisms of the effects of mindfulness and meditation on clinical health outcomes; Human-animal interaction as an ameliorative factor for stress; Circadian disruption as a tumor promoter.Dr. Sephton's lab welcomes self-identified minority students of diverse cultural and experiential backgrounds. This may include (but is not limited to) racial and ethnic minority students, international students, neurodiverse students, those who have experienced traumatic circumstances; sexual and gender minorities, and/or those who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Patrick Steffen

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Biofeedback, stress and resiliencePsych 307 and 308

Jared Warren

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Applied Positive Psychology; current/recent projects on mindfulness, self-compassion, gratitude, purpose, awe1) They need to have taken or be concurrently enrolled in Psych 349: Intro to Positive Psychology, and 2) They need to be available to attend our lab meetings on Fridays at 10:00am.

Niwako Yamawaki

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Violence against women; help seekingNone

Juan Valladares

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Interracial interactions, intergroup contact, and cultural pschology.None

Cole Hooley

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Mental health services; dissemination and implementation science; system science methods. I have a variety of projects going on right now in these domains. Most of them are focused on how we can get mental health services to all those who need it in Utah.None

Gordon Limb

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Native American children and familiesHave at least basic stats and research skills

Sherinah Saasa

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Broadly focuses on exclusionary mechanisms and factors that facilitate negative socio-economic and health outcomes for African immigrants in the United States and low- income children in sub-Saharan Africa. My current projects include examining (1) COVID-19 impacts on economic, social and psychological well-being of immigrant populations in the United States and, (2) educational disparities and mental health needs of disadvantaged children in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Desire to learn
  • Hard working and dedicated
  • No prior research experience needed

Michael Cope

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Community sociology, with an emphasis on understanding the unique challenges faced by rural populations.I desire to be actively engaged in the research process.

Eric Dahlin

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Innovation, organizations, developmentNone

Mikaela Dufur

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Child social capital; family structure; sportNone

Melissa S. Jones

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Adverse childhood experiences, crime, healthWork on analyzing data and collecting articles for literature review

Jane Lilly Lopez

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Citizenship, migration, and belongingNone

Hayley Pierce

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Research Interests:Requirements:
Well-being of women and childrenNone

Scott Sanders

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Research Interests:Requirements:
International development, labor and production networks, monitoring and evaluationsNone

Research Academy Frequently Asked Questions

  • The FHSS Student Research Academy is a program that combines research experience opportunities with professionalization and preparation to apply for and succeed in graduate school. The program is designed to support students from groups that are typically under-represented in graduate school and will provide you with experiences to help you make educated decisions about your future and put your best foot forward when applying for graduate school.

  • Students who are junior or senior and members of one or more groups that are typically under-represented in graduate school (e.g., low income, first generation) are encouraged to apply to the program. If you are not sure if you belong to such a group, please apply and share with us why you believe your background and experience qualify. In addition, only students who are majoring or minoring in a program hosted in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences are eligible to apply.

  • Applications are due on June 4th in any given year.

  • Yes, as long as you are able to enroll in a total of 1-credit Academy class (FHSS 251R) in both Fall (0.5 credit) and Winter (0.5 credit) semesters. However, preference will be given to new applicants.

  • No. The Research Academy will provide you with opportunities and experiences that will be applicable in work and academic settings. However, preference will be given to those who plan to pursue post-graduate careers.

  • The Research Academy lasts for fall and winter semesters of an academic year (e.g. Fall 2023 and Winter 2024). Students in the Research Academy should be enrolled in a total of 1-credit Academy class (FHSS 251R) in both Fall (0.5 credit) and Winter (0.5 credit) semesters during the year they participate in the program.

  • No, only students who can participate for both Fall and Winter semesters are eligible to apply.

  • The Research Academy is a two-semester commitment and participants need to be on campus for both Fall and Winter semesters.

  • If you are planning to apply for graduate school during your senior year, it could be beneficial to participate in the Research Academy as a junior. But all advanced undergraduates can benefit from the program, regardless of their projected graduation date.

  • Yes, you can apply if you are getting close to your junior year.

  • No. However, some professors may require you to complete certain classes. See the list of professors and their requirements in the section above.

  • No. In your application, you will indicate up to three professors listed in the section above with whom you would like to work.* You will be matched with a professor after you are accepted into the program.

    *Carefully consider the projects/topics each faculty member has listed to decide which professors are the best fit for your interests. If you are already working with a faculty member on research, that’s great! You may still apply for the Research Academy, just specify in your application that you would like to continue to work with that faculty member while in the program. If you are not yet working with a faculty member, that’s great, too! All of the faculty members listed below have expressed an interest in working with Research Academy students.

  • See previous question.

  • No.

  • Research Academy participants receive a total of $1000 scholarship ($500 for each fall and winter semester) and are also hired as a paid research assistant to work with a faculty member (work between 5 ~10 hours per week at $13 per hour).

  • Students who are majoring or minoring in a program hosted in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences (FHSS) qualify for the program, though preference is given to students with declared FHSS majors.

  • In the 1-credit course, you will receive professionalization guidance (e.g. designing your resume/CV; tips on making the most of your experiences as a mentee) and tools to prepare for graduate school (e.g. resources for GRE prep and tips on applying to and preparing for graduate school) during Fall semester. During Winter semester, you will prepare to present a research project you work with your mentor at Fulton Mentored Student Research Conference.

  • Every research assistant position will differ, but you should gain hands-on experience collecting and/or analyzing original data and receive regular mentorship from your faculty advisor.

  • Click the button below to find out.

  • There are openings for about 40 students to participate in the Research Academy every year.

  • That depends on your mentor.

  • We prefer you to be a full-time student, but part-time students can apply.