Current Research Opportunities

The following labs are currently accepting applications from undergraduates interested in research assistant positions. Guidelines for applying can vary between labs, so check below before proceeding. Interested students are encouraged to contact faculty members directly via email.

Behavior, Emotions, and Relationships (BEAR) Lab


Principal Investigator: Dr. Elizabeth Kiel

Research interests: My research focuses on understanding the etiology of childhood anxiety disorders within a developmental psychopathology framework. My work has aimed to clarify how early fearful/inhibited temperament predicts risk for anxiety-spectrum problems, with a particular focus on emotion processes (awareness, reactivity, regulation) involved in transactional influences occurring between anxiety-prone children and their parents. Much of this work has focused on early childhood, from toddlerhood to early school-age, which is a fascinating time for the emergence of children’s independent behavior and emotion regulation and an important developmental period for the influence of parents. I use multi-method assessments, including observation of temperament, parenting, and emotion processes; surveys; and psychophysiological techniques, such as analyzing both children’s and parents’ hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity, as well as maternal cardiac and EEG activity, when children encounter novel, uncertain situations. 

To apply: Interested students should contact Dr. Elizabeth Kiel (

Culture, Affect, and Relationships (CARE) Lab

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Principal Investigator: Dr. Vaishali Raval

Research interests: We are a group committed to understanding family influences on youth well-being across the developmental spectrum (i.e., from childhood to emerging adulthood) within their local cultural contexts. Existing knowledge across fields of psychology is based on research conducted with White middle-class groups in Western countries, which represent less than five percent of the world’s population (Arnett, 2008). A knowledge base derived from this small and selective segment of the World’ s population is not universally applicable. In collaboration with students and colleagues from Miami University and around the world, our lab aims to fill this gap with research involving individuals living in Asia, as well as diverse racial and ethnic groups within USA. Current research involves contributing to culturally grounded understanding of psychopathology (e.g., "What is the experience of depression like for a teen in India?"), examining culturally salient factors that contribute to mental health problems such as depression, and suicidality, training of mental health professionals, and developing contextually relevant interventions to reduce the burden of psychological difficulties. 

To apply: Please contact Dr. Raval ( and complete the CARE Lab undergraduate research assistant application.

Computational Cognition Lab

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Principal Investigator: Dr. Joseph Johnson

Research interests: We are interested in how computational processes in the brain produce cognitive activity such as choices and other decision-making behaviors. We have looked at situations from monetary choices to health outcomes to sports playmakers to police shooter decisions, and are interested in variables such as stress and various incentives, goals, and task demands. A key innovation of our work is the wide range of methods such as eye-tracking, cursor-tracking, and physiological methods we use to reveal insights to processes such as attention and choice. We also use formal simulation and mathematical models to make predictions about the behavioral results from our studies.

To apply: Interested students should contact Dr. Joseph Johnson (

Family Relationships and Mood (FRAM) Lab

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Principal Investigator: Dr. Aaron Luebbe

Research interests: We study emotional disorders from a developmental psychopathology framework rooted in Bronfenbrenner's ecological model of development. Our research investigates emotional experience, emotion recognition, reactivity, and regulation in parents and adolescents. We currently focus heavily on the role of positive emotion processes. Our hope is that by understanding the complex interaction of transactional emotion functioning, biological functioning, and interpersonal relationships we can better understand the causes of youth psychopathology and subsequently add novel components to help improve empirically-supported treatments for youth internalizing disorders. 

To apply: Interested students should contact Dr. Aaron Luebbe (

Harris Parent Child Interaction Lab

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Principal Investigator: Dr. Yvette Harris 

Research interests: My research program reflects my interest in two board areas. My first area, developed as a graduate student at the University of Florida, explores the association between parenting behaviors and preschool and school-age cognitive and academic performance. I employ a Vygotskian/IPS theoretical framework which allows me to examine teaching and learning transactions among diverse maternal child dyads across several cognitive type tasks. A subset of my research in the past few years has examined the particular teaching-learning interactions of African American mothers and children and emotion regulation in Latina mothers and children. A significant percentage of the research in this area has been done in collaboration with Miami University undergraduate and graduate students. 

To apply: Please send Dr. Yvette Harris ( an email that includes the following information: GPA, year at Miami, majors, professional interests, and post-graduation plans.

Hunger Lab

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Principal Investigator: Dr. Jeffrey Hunger

Research interests: Research in my lab uses insights from social psychology to understand and ultimately improve the health of those encountering stigma (e.g. higher body weight individuals, racial and sexual minorities). We often examine the consequences of stigma through the theoretical lens of social identity threat. We take a diverse approach to health and well-being, including outcomes such as acute physiological indicators of stress (e.g. cardiovascular reactivity), health behaviors (e.g. disordered eating), mental health (e.g. depression), and social well-being (e.g. loneliness).

To apply: Interested students should contact Dr. Jeffrey Hunger (

Learning, Memory, and Emotion Lab

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Principal Investigator: Dr. Jennifer Quinn

Research interests: In the Learning, Memory & Emotion Lab, we are interested in how both associative and non-associative emotional memories are formed, retrieved, and used to guide future behavior.  Specifically, we investigate how the brain initially stores and subsequently stabilizes, updates, and forgets long-term memories. We explore parallel brain systems that often represent differential aspects of the same experience.  In addition, we look at how early adverse experience (e.g., chronic or acute stress) impacts subsequent processing of threat and reward. Our research employs behavioral, neuroanatomical, neurochemical and molecular techniques in addressing our questions.  We use both rats and mice in aversive and appetitive conditioning procedures. Our lab involves graduate and undergraduate students in collaborative and independent projects. 

To apply: Interested students should contact Dr. Jennifer Quinn (

Mechanisms Affecting Relationships, Stress, and Health (MARSH) Lab

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Principal Investigator: Dr. Allison Farrell

Research interests: In my lab, we study the mechanistic pathways explaining how close relationships, particularly parent-child and romantic relationships, affect stress and physical health. Out relationships with others can help buffer us from stress when they're going smoothly, but low-quality relationships can also create stress, and both sides have implications for physical health. Specifically, I am interested in how stress, and relationships affect the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and inflammatory processes. Through multi-method studies utilizing observational, self-report, and biological measures, I aim to uncover how close relationships get "under the skin" and stay with us throughout our lifespan in order to inform translational research.

To apply: Please send an email to Dr. Allison Farrell ( with the subject line “Potential RA” and provide in the body major, GPA, class year and one sentence describing why you are interested in working in the lab.

McMurray Lab

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Principal Investigator: Dr. Matthew McMurray

Research interests: My research interests focus broadly on the neurocircuitry of decision-making and on how early exposure to drugs of abuse, especially during adolescence, causes long term alterations in decision-making and its underlying neurocircuitry. Most individuals have their first experience with drugs (including alcohol) during adolescence, and because drugs directly alter the neurocircuitry that controls decision making and reward, drug use during this particularly vulnerable period is likely to have long term repercussions on behavior. Thus, initial drug use often occurs at one of the most vulnerable developmental periods, while simultaneously altering the trajectory of decision-making processes necessary for normal development. To study these topics, my research concentrates on the intersection of 1) behavioral paradigms of animal (rat) decision-making; 2) neurophysiology; 3) pharmacology and toxicology; 4) neurogenetics; and 5) the dynamic nature of these issues across development.

To apply: Please submit an application on the lab webpage.

Medical Decision Making Lab

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Principal Investigator: Dr. Christopher Wolfe

Research interests: Our cognitive psychology lab studies issues related to how people make medical decisions. This includes basic research on judgment and decision making applied to medical contexts. It also includes related areas of reasoning and comprehension. Since anyone can get sick with a serious illness such as cancer, everyday people must be able to understand complex medical information. Thus some of our work involves psychological research on medical texts and discourse. Today many people seek medical information online, thus we are systematically exploring various aspects of the medical information environment. Effectively presenting quantitative medical data necessitates understanding numeracy and theory-based approaches to data visualization. We also study the spread of medical misinformation and the effectiveness of counterarguments.  

To apply: If you are interested in exploring the idea of becoming an undergraduate research assistant e-mail Dr. Wolfe ( to set up an interview.


MUSCRAT Lab logo

Principal Investigator: Dr. Paul Flaspohler

Research interests: As a clinical-community psychologist, I work to integrate teaching, research, and service through modeling and involving students in self-evaluation, through community and school-based research projects, and through teaching about using research and evaluation in the service of communities and schools. I am proud of my reputation as a professor who challenges his students, demands quality work, and nurtures students’ abilities to think critically, apply psychological theories and methods, and find meaningful opportunities for engagement in research and action.

To apply: Interested students should contact Dr. Paul Flaspohler (

Pets Attitudes Self & Stereotypes (PASS) Lab

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Principal Investigator: Dr. Allen McConnell

Research interests: Our research examines (1) how relationships with family and pets affect health and well-being, (2) how people decode others’ nonverbal displays, and (3) how self-nature representations influence pro-environmental action.

To apply: Interested students should visit the PASS Lab website for information and application details.

Reward and Addictive Disorders Lab


Principal Investigator: Dr. Anna Radke

Research interests: In the Reward and Addictive Disorders (RAD) Lab, we use animal models to study motivational brain circuits on a systems level. Our goal is to understand how these neural circuits function in a healthy state as well as to uncover adaptations that contribute to maladaptive behaviors such as addiction. 

To apply: Please fill out the RAD Lab online application. The availability of positions varies, but applicants are typically interviewed at the end of each semester.

Social Experiences Lab

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Principal Investigator: Dr. Heather Claypool

Research interests: My research focuses primarily on the consequences of social belonging and social ostracism. Research in my lab has shown that social ostracism can engender a range of responses, including a heightened ability to discriminate between others’ real and “fake” smiles, to individuate others during impression formation, and to feel pain. Other current work focuses on how feelings of belonging shape our attitudes toward groups.

To apply: Interested students should contact Dr. Heather Claypool (

Smart Postural Control and Coordination (SPoCC) Lab

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Principal Investigator: Dr. Leonard J. Smart

Research interests: Our research involves examining factors that influence how perception and action are coordinated to allow for successful regulation of behavior. In particular, we are interested in how functional relationships between perception and action are regained (adaptation) and the cost of not being able to do so (motion sickness) in natural and virtual settings. Our research bridges interests in motor control, perception, and Human Factors.  

To apply: Email Dr. Smart ( and Nate Von Drasek Smith (

Thought Language and Culture (TLC) Lab

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Principal Investigator: Dr. Vrinda Kalia

Research interests: How do we learn to control our thoughts and emotions to achieve our goals? My research program is geared to unpack the relation between cognitive control and emotion control. I am particularly interested in the contextual forces (i.e. family, culture, language environment, stress) that shape the development of emotion regulation and executive processes. In the last few years, I have studied bilingual populations in India and the US. Some of my recent work has examined differences in executive functions in early and late bilinguals and the relation between language and the development of executive functions in monolingual and bilingual children. Although my research interests are developmental, my research is interdisciplinary; intersecting educational psychology, cultural psychology, and cognitive psychology. My lab uses a combination of behavioral and physiological (i.e. EEG and fNIRS) techniques to address research questions.

To apply: Interested students should contact Dr. Vrinda Kalia (