Apply to be an Undergraduate RA
For VCU undergraduate students seeking to go to graduate school and/or a research career, it is important to attain research experience. For faculty like me who are running multiple studies, it is important to have undergraduate research assistants (RAs) who can assist me and my doctoral students in this research. This can end up being a wonderful opportunity for you, me, and my current lab members. What makes this the most positive experience is a strong personal and professional fit between what we are doing in the lab and what you are passionate about.
If you are interested in being an RA for my lab, we require a minimum of a 3 hr/week commitment over the course of the semester, although we prefer a 6 hr/week commitment. And if you can commit to multiple semesters (e.g., fall and summer), that is a plus as well. You can register for course credit if you like for volunteering in my lab and you will receive 1 credit per 3 hr/week you do over the semester, up to a maximum of 3 credits at a time. That scenario would involve volunteering for 9 hrs/week across the full semester. You also do not need to register for credit to volunteer in my lab–that is just an option for you if you need the course credit. You also do not need to be registered as a VCU student. I have RAs volunteer all the time who have already graduated and who are interested in accruing additional research experience before applying to graduate school.
In my lab, undergraduate RAs perform a number of very diverse tasks across many of my different research projects. This usually includes some degree of data collection, data entry, data coding, and literature reviews. For students who are able to stay in my lab for more than a year, you may have the opportunity to move to more complex tasks such as study conceptualization, data analysis, and manuscript writing. RAs should be prepared to do much of the behind-the-scenes tasks before having opportunities to take more leadership roles. RAs are expected to attend my lab meetings on Monday evenings from 5-6pm on campus, although I sometimes make exceptions if students have mandatory classes or work hours that conflict with the lab meetings. Typically, RAs are assigned to work with a specific doctoral student who is their day-to-day supervisor. The lab works on a project-by-project basis, and RAs will be placed on individual projects. As such, I only take on RAs if I or one of my doctoral students needs work completed for specific projects.
People who are interested in applying to my lab must meet the following requirements: (a) sincere interest in one of my primary or secondary areas of research, (b) regularly checks and responds to emails within 24 hours, (c) dependability and conscientiousness, (d) interest in going to graduate school in psychology, social work, medical school, public health, or another related discipline, (e) commitment to diversity and social justice, and (f) GPA of 3.0 or above, or compelling evidence of upward movement in grades over time and leadership experience.
If after reading this description, you are still interested in becoming an RA, you should email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and include: (a) basic information on who you are (i.e., name, major, year, GPA, etc.); (b) a description of what research of mine you are interested in; (c) a brief paragraph on why you are applying to work in my lab and what you might want to do for your career (obviously, tentatively at this point); and (d) a copy of your CV or resume. I will get back to you if there are current openings in my lab and, if so, will likely arrange to talk more with you in person.