Resources for Undergraduate Research Assistants

We’re so glad that you’re here! We have tons of undergraduate research assistants working in the lab and we are almost always growing our team. Here is some advice about how to get involved and insight into undergraduate work in our lab.

There are a number of ways to get involved in our lab!
  1. You can volunteer! This is a great way to see if research is for you and if you like our lab environment. We need a commitment of 8-10 hours a week for at least 1 semester (though we prefer a full year). We usually interview once or twice a semester, and we will reach out to you if you have been selected for an interview!

We are not currently looking for new undergraduate research assistants. If you would like to be contacted when future applications re-open, please fill out  this form.   (Note: you must be a current UNC student to fill out this form).

  1. You can do PSYC/NSCI 395! This is a great way to get a more in-depth experience in the lab. To do PSYC/NSCI 395, you need to have already taken PSYC 101 or NSCI 175 and two additional PSYC or NSCI courses (one of them has to be at 200-level or above). For more information on eligibility for PSYC/NSCI 395, please visit department website here.
    • Spots are limited to five per semester. You must volunteer in the CIRCLE lab for at least one semester before you can do PSYC/NSCI 395.
    • PSYC/NSCI 395 students in the lab must be available to attend lab meetings. Our lab meeting time typically takes place on Fridays from 9:30am-11:00am. During lab meetings, you will interact with Dr. Sheridan, who leads lab meeting, in addition to all CIRCLE lab members.
    • PSYC/NSCI 395 students must have a post-doc or graduate student mentor. The students will work directly with this person on their projects and will meet with them weekly in the context of that work.
      • If you have already been in the lab, you can talk directly with a post doc or graduate student about being your PSYC 395 mentor.
  1. You can do work study! Occasionally we have some work-study positions you can apply for. As they become available, you will be able to find our job advertisement in the JobX system.
    • Spots are limited. It is easiest to do work-study if you have already volunteered in the lab for a semester.
    • Note: We are not currently offering work-study positions
Undergraduate research assistants in our lab have various growing opportunities they can engage in!

In addition to learning more about adversity exposure in childhood and brain development, common tasks in our lab include contributing to participant recruitment and communications, assisting with participant visits, completing data entry and data management, quality-checking brain images, preparing study materials, conducting literature reviews and more.

Testimonials from our Undergraduates:
Kayla Brown, Class of 2023
Why did you join the Circle Lab?
“I joined the Circle Lab so that I could practice the skills and information that I started to learn in my introductory psych classes. I also wanted to experience what it was like to work under a lab that is actively conducting research on participants that I hope to work with post-undergrad. I also learned about the lab during the psych and neuro fest and immediately applied.”
What do you enjoy about being in a lab?
“I enjoy the mentorship and lab bonding experiences and the many opportunities that happen during and after the lab! Everyone a part of this lab is so willing to help and be resourceful which has been beneficial for not only me but also to my fellow lab peers.”
Do you have an example of a project or event you’ve participated in the lab and the skills you’ve gained from it?
“Currently, I am a coder for the Parent and Child Interaction for the Whale Project and have been participating in this project since the start of last year. This project has helped me be more observant of parent and child interactions and how cultural differences can display different parental warmth.”
What are you doing in the lab that is setting you up for what you want to do in the future?
“In the future, I aspire to become a clinical psychologist and by being a part of this lab I am able to practice skills necessary to get a Post Bacc job and eventually into a clinical grad program.”
If you could give your freshman or sophomore self a piece of advice about research, what would it be?
“If I could give my freshman self a piece of advice about research is to always apply! Just because you feel that there is someone better than you that should not deter you from grasping an opportunity. Also, there will be times where your journey is not perfect to finding a particular career path right away. That is fine! The best way to manage is to try and join a lab to find what interests you and expand your interests.”

Olivia Thomas, Class of 2022
Why did you join the Circle Lab?

I joined the CIRCLE Lab sophomore year because I had heard a lot about the research that undergrads could get involved in and it seemed like a really interesting and great opportunity! I also knew I wanted to do something in the medical field, so I wanted to join a lab that tied in my major (neuroscience) and medicine at the same time to get exposure to multiple fields.
What do you enjoy about being in a lab?
I enjoy the other students that work in the lab and all the graduate students, Post Docs, and PIs! I have met so many great people that are both friends
and mentors, and they really care about your success in the lab and life in general. They want to make sure you’re enjoying your research while offering advice for plans after graduation and a space to talk about anything else
going on in your life.
Do you have an example of a project or event you’ve participated in the lab and the skills you’ve gained from it?
I did NSCI 395 (independent research) last semester and it was a great experience. I had an awesome mentor who was a graduate student and I got
to help organize data from a study that she had been working on. This taught me how to take general organization skills and tie that in with data analysis,
which was something completely new to me. By the end of the semester, I had written a paper on it and gave a presentation about my work in our lab
meeting. It felt great to share what all I had learned and accomplished!
What are you doing in the lab that is setting you up for what you want to do in the future?
I have done a lot of communication-oriented projects in the lab (reaching out to local businesses, schools, etc.), which I think is a skill that everyone should have. Being able to communicate professionally will be key in any field, and I
feel so much more confident in that with my work in the lab. I also think reading neuroscience publications and understanding the findings is a great skill to have if you want to go into medicine! I plan to go to PA school and would love to work in neurology, so I know research articles will be a key part of success in order to learn and keep up with the constantly changing field.
If you could give your freshman or sophomore self a piece of advice about research, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to lots of labs! I probably emailed 15-20 labs and got responses from 3-4 about open positions. Even if they don’t have specific postings listed on their website, they might be looking for someone to add to the team in the near future. The UNC OUR Database is also a great place to look for research positions and you can filter them based on your interests!

In addition to lab meetings, we also have weekly undergraduate meetings!

This meeting is solely for undergraduate research assistants, led by post-bacc research staff, to better support their professional development as well as to provide a space for them to connect with fellow research assistants and post-bacc research staff. Because we tailor programming for these weekly undergraduate meetings to undergraduates’ needs and wants that they have expressed, all undergraduate research assistants in our lab are highly encouraged to attend them regularly and maximize this support resource.

Are you Graduating soon and looking for post-bacc research positions to advance your research skills?

A compiled list of post-bacc job boards can be downloaded here.