School Mental Health Project/Center for Mental Health in Schools

Faculty Sponsor: 
Adelman, Howard
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Howard Adelman
Phone: 
825-1225
Description of Research Project: 
The project pursues theory, research, practice and training related to addressing mental health and psychosocial concerns through school-based interventions. To these ends, the Center works closely with school districts, state agencies, and organizations and colleagues across the country, providing support, materials and technical assistance.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Students will assist in Center operations, working on a variety of activities including: library research, materials preparation, and data management. No prior research experience is needed, just a willingness to learn. 6 hour/week minimum committment

Reducing Health Risk Behavior and Improving Adolescent Health

Faculty Sponsor: 
Asarnow, Joan
Department: 
Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
Contact Name: 
Vaiddehi Bansal
Room Number: 
300 Medical Plaza, Suite 1524
Phone: 
818-794-4962
Description of Research Project: 
The aim of our study is to evaluate interventions for reducing health risk behaviors in adolescents with depressive symptoms. Health risk behaviors, such as smoking, drug and alcohol use, and unhealthy diet and exercise patterns contribute to significant disability, morbidity and mortality. Effective interventions for reducing health risk behavior in adolescents are important for preventing negative health consequences and improving both health and mental health outcomes. We are exploring the use of cognitive-behavioral health education interventions aimed at reducing health risk behaviors and promoting and maintaining positive health behaviors. Prior experience working with children and adolescents is desirable, though not essential. Training will be provided. This is an excellent opportunity for students interested in applying to graduate or medical schools.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Students will have the opportunity to learn and gain experience in research involving youth and adolescents. Students will assist in screening of potential subjects, preparation of study materials, and data entry/analysis. We require a 3 quarter commitment.

The language environment of early childhood classrooms

Faculty Sponsor: 
Bailey, Alison
Department: 
Education
Contact Name: 
Anne Blackstock-Bernstein
Description of Research Project: 
The goal of this study is to understand low-income children’s language experiences in Head Start preschool classrooms. How do children’s language experiences differ as a function of child-level characteristics, such as temperament and language proficiency? For this mixed-methods study, we are collecting data through the use of classroom observations, child assessments, parent surveys, and teacher focus groups. It is a great opportunity for RAs who are interested in working with children and want to be involved in multiple phases of a research project.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
We are looking for 3 research assistants to help with all aspects of the project. Spanish fluency is strongly preferred, but non-Spanish speakers should still apply. Applicants should be motivated and detail-oriented, as you’ll be an integral part of this research project. We are looking for a time commitment of at least 8 hours/week, and RAs are expected to commit to at least 3 consecutive quarters. Research assistants will be trained to conduct one-on-one language assessments with children (using the preLAS 2000, which uses games and toys to learn about children’s oral language skills) as well as how to use standardized protocols to conduct classroom observations. In addition to collecting data, RAs will attend weekly lab meetings as well as assist with data entry, management, analysis, and transcription (depending on student interest and background). Because most of your time will be spent in classrooms with children, experience working/playing with children is a plus. It is also preferable for RAs to have access to transportation, because data collection will happen at Head Start sites off-campus. If you are interested, please email Anne Blackstock-Bernstein at annebb@ucla.edu with a cover letter describing your goals and interest in the project, resume/CV, and an unofficial transcript. We look forward to hearing from you!

Examining the influence of out-of-school input on the lexical development of early-elementary students in a French-English two-way immersion program

Faculty Sponsor: 
Bailey, Alison
Department: 
Education
Contact Name: 
Ryan, Eve
Description of Research Project: 
This study will examine the lexical trajectory in French and English of K-1 students enrolled in a TWI program over one calendar year that includes the summer break. Such results will be interpreted in light of the amount and nature of the language input received outside of school, as reported in parental surveys. The purpose of this research is to more fully elucidate the relationship between out of school language input and vocabulary development for students enrolled in a bilingual program.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Looking for one RA who is fluent in French. Responsibilities include: helping collect data, managing data, transcribing language samples in French and English

Enhancing Learning Through Cognitive Psychology

Faculty Sponsor: 
Bjork, Elizabeth
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Erin Sparck
Description of Research Project: 
The primary goal of this research is to promote learning and memory performance within educational contexts through the investigation of principles in cognitive psychology. One of the many topics currently under investigation are situations in which new formats of multiple-choice tests are used after studying some to-be-learned information. We believe that multiple-choice initial testing is more beneficial than is cued-recall initial testing (and can be designed to be even more effective) because multiple-choice initial tests direct attention more broadly-- not just to information pertaining to the question, but also to information pertaining to the alternatives, which is helpful on a final test. We are trying to figure out how to engage people in effective learning strategies on these tests naturalistically.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Research assistants will minimally be expected to run participants, help with data entry/coding and basic experiment design, read background articles, as well as attend lab meetings. If desired, research assistants may get involved in their own unique research project, which is a great experience for those potentially interested in graduate school.

Designing Workplaces, Schools, and Standardized Tests to Reduce Social Disparities

Faculty Sponsor: 
Brannon, Tiffany
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Tiffany Brannon
Room Number: 
4528D
Description of Research Project: 
The goal of this research is to understand the processes that allow culturally inclusive efforts to become successful interventions that improve a variety of social outcomes. Specifically, this research examines the prediction that culturally inclusive efforts— those that aim to reduce prejudice and recognize pride associated with negatively stereotyped identities— can enhance academic outcomes (e.g., achievement, persistence, identification) and intergroup outcomes (e.g., implicit attitudes, multicultural interests). This research examines this predication in the context of workplace and school settings (including standardized testing).
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Students will have the opportunity to actively participate in various tasks with the goal of learning and cultivating the development of research skills related to conducting literature reviews, helping to design study stimuli, serving as a study experimenter, entering data and coding data.

Memory for Important Information

Faculty Sponsor: 
Castel, Alan
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Catherine Middlebrooks
Description of Research Project: 
How do we remember valuable information? Which factors contribute to successful memory for important information at a later time, and which can hinder such remembering? This line of research focuses on value-directed remembering--our ability to selectively attend to important information at the expense of less important information when remembering everything is unlikely/impossible--and addresses aspects of learning, memory, attention, and metacognition. This includes the strategic control over memory and processes of attention; how item importance influences memory and metamemory; how factors known to compromise attention, in general, impact value-based learning; how expectations learning and retrieval conditions influence the study of important information and subsequent retrieval; and so forth.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Research assistants are responsible for collecting data, which includes scheduling participants via SONA and administering a variety of computer-based tasks. Some of these tasks require greater RA-participant interaction in addition to the computer component. RAs are expected to commit to at least 3 consecutive academic quarters and provide a minimum of 8 hours per week of lab work. Applicants should be responsible, punctual, and detail-oriented. Prior experience as a research assistant is preferred, though not required. If interested, please include a copy of your CV, a list of previous psychology courses taken, and the contact information of 1-2 people who could provide a reference upon request in your initial email.

Treating Underserved Children & Youth with Anxiety Disorders

Faculty Sponsor: 
Chavira, Denise
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Dr. Denise Chavira
Description of Research Project: 
The CALMA (Culture and Anxiety Lab for Mental Health Advances) is a research lab that focuses on increasing knowledge that will improve the mental health of children with anxiety disorders. We are particularly interested in conducting research with underserved groups such as low-income, Latino, and rural communities. In general, the lab is currently studying factors that facilitate and inhibit appropriate utilization of mental health services, as well as ways to improve both the detection and treatment of mental health problems in community settings, such as pediatric primary care. The integration of mental health interventions into medical settings represents a viable means of improving access and the quality of care for children with a variety of emotional disorders. Additionally, the use of novel modes of treatment delivery such as telephone based, parent-mediated, interventions, provides another means to extend mental health treatment to underserved groups such as children in rural and low-income neighborhoods. Given the multiple contextual factors that influence the etiology of child anxiety, our research team is also examining how family environment and cultural factors such as acculturative stress, immigration, and conceptualizations of psychological problems influence anxiety and depression in US and foreign born Latino families. These efforts will further inform educational efforts and potential adaptations of existing evidence-based practices to better meet the needs of underserved youth.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Research Assistants are expected to commit to at least 2 consecutive academic quarters, provide a minimum of 6 hours a week of lab work, and attend weekly lab meetings. Research Assistant duties include: readings to better understand child anxiety disorders, listening to a set of diagnostic interviews and therapy sessions, data entry and database management, transcription of qualitative interviews conducted with parents of anxious children, recruitment of families, and translation of research materials (if fluent in Spanish). All research assistants will also be expected to read lab related articles and lead a discussion at lab meeting, conduct literature reviews as needed, maintain general organization and filing for research lab, and other tasks needed by the project.

Optimizing Exposure Therapy

Faculty Sponsor: 
Craske, Michelle
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Vivian Byeon
Description of Research Project: 
The goal of the study is to examine the effectiveness of two different types of therapy for individuals with panic disorder or social anxiety disorder.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
There are two main tasks that research assistants will do: 1) Research assistants will conduct lab assessments with anxious clients from the community. You will learn how to interact with participants, how to conduct a standardized assessment procedure, and how to attach electrodes to monitor psychophysiological measures (e.g., heart rate, skin conductance, electromyography). 2) Research assistants will enter data via SPSS. No prior experience with research, psychophysiology or SPSS is required. The study requires a minimum commitment through the end of Spring Quarter 2017, up to eight hours a week, including summer 2016. This is an excellent opportunity for students who are interested in applying to graduate school for psychology to get training and experience in psychological research. Please email the following to Vivian Byeon, research coordinator, at vbyeon@psych.ucla.edu: cover letter stating your goals/interests in psychology, resume, and an academic transcript (can be unofficial)

Enhancing Research for Anxiety Disorders

Faculty Sponsor: 
Craske, Michelle
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Aurora Oftedal
Description of Research Project: 
Hiring Summer/Fall 2016 to work through Summer, 2017. The goal of the study is to investigate a method of enhancing treatment for anxiety disorders.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
There are two main tasks that research assistants will do: 1) Research assistants will conduct lab assessments with UCLA undergraduate participants. You will learn how to interact with participants, how to conduct a standardized assessment procedure, and how to attach electrodes to monitor psycho-physiological measures (e.g., heart rate, skin conductance, electromyography). 2) Research assistants will extract psycho-physiological data from its waveform format and convert it into a meaningful numerical format that can be statistically analyzed. No prior experience with psycho physiology is required. Hiring will occur Summer to early Fall, 2016 (but please send your application sooner if you are ready). The study requires a minimum commitment through the end of Summer, 2017, up to eight hours a week, including summer 2017. This is an excellent opportunity for students who are interested in applying to graduate school for psychology to get training and experience in psychological research. Please submit the following to Aurora Oftedal, research coordinator, at auroraoftedal@ucla.edu: • cover letter stating your goals/interests in psychology • resume • academic transcript (can be unofficial)

Infants at Risk for Autism, a Longitudinal Study

Faculty Sponsor: 
Dapretto, Mirella
Department: 
Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
Contact Name: 
Lisa Jackson
Phone: 
(310) 825-3478
Description of Research Project: 
As part of the UCLA Autism Center of Excellence (funded by the National Institute of Health), we are studying early brain development in infants at high and low risk for autism spectrum disorders. This study involves non-invasive MRI, EEG, eye-tracking, behavioral assessments and qualitative interviews in order to identify signs of autism in the first year of life. Participating infants in this study are seen at at 1.5, 3, 6, 9, 12, 18 and 36 months of age.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Students will have the opportunity to code behavioral assessments, transcribe qualitative interviews, enter data and help with overall lab operations. Students will help prepare for visits with families, and may help interact with the families, especially when childcare is needed. Motivated students will have the chance to observe behavioral assessments and EEG sessions, and will help to write up behavioral reports that will be sent to the families in our study. Additionally, students will engage with scientific literature surrounding autism spectrum disorders and child development. A two quarter commitment is preferred. Please apply by email, stating briefly why you are interested in the lab, and attach a copy of your resume or CV.

Pediatric and Adult Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders and ADHD

Faculty Sponsor: 
Del'Homme, Melissa
Department: 
Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
Contact Name: 
Jenny Cowen, PhD
Room Number: 
Med Plaza 300
Phone: 
310-825-6170
Description of Research Project: 
Our multidisciplinary team conducts several pediatric and adult treatment studies to investigate and treat a wide range of psychiatric disorders. Our broad interests are reflected by the many of clinical trials we conduct including treating ADHD and severe mood dysregulation in children and adolescents with an innovative non-medication approach, examining the efficacy of several medications on different symptoms of autism spectrum disorders including repetitive, hyperactive, and social withdrawal behaviors. The RA will have ample opportunity to interact with children and adults ages 5-35 with autism spectrum disorders and ADHD. Our lab offers a unique union of psychiatry and psychology for those students who are interested in learning about research in these fields!
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
We are looking for detail-oriented, enthusiastic, hard-working, organized, sociable, and independent students who are interested in learning about the research process and psychiatric disorders! The RA will be trained to administer vital signs including heart rate, blood pressure, height and weight, and EKG. The RA will also help facilitate study participant blood draws, process blood and urine, ship biological materials (after training), assist in preparing for and running study visits, data entry and management, developing participant recruitment strategies, as well as administrative/clerical tasks. Students who have shown dedication, interest and commitment to our projects in the past have created posters, helped to design databases, and have been connected with researchers in other areas of their interest. Students with experience in graphic design will have the opportunity to be creative and lead development of recruitment materials and manage the evolving group website and content. We would like at least a 2 quarter commitment from any interested students. Please attach a resume and class schedule to your email application.

thinkSMART: an executive function intervention for adolescents

Faculty Sponsor: 
Ellis, Alissa, Ph.D.
Department: 
Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
Contact Name: 
Alex Sturm
Description of Research Project: 
The thinkSMART program is a behaviorally-based skills training that focuses on time management/time awareness, task initiation/task completion, organization, planning/prioritizing, emotion regulation, and mindfulness. The program is for 12-15 year olds with executive dysfunction. Although a diagnosis is not required, many youth participating have ADHD, anxiety, mood, or other neurological disorders. The thinkSMART program is based on an empirically supported group treatment for adult ADHD and has been adapted for this educational program to be acceptable and appropriate for a broad population of youth with executive dysfunction. It is a unique skills-based program incorporating parent and child, and involving in-class education, skills training and exercises, mindfulness training, and homework activities. The development of strong executive functions is improved with daily practice and reminders of skill use, and parents are included in order to support their child’s understanding and use of the skills.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
The program is made up of a small, enthusiastic team looking for an individual who is very independent, self-directed, creative, detail-oriented, organized, and interested in clinical research! The research assistant will assist in all aspects of program maintenance and research development. The RA will help to design our research database, prepare materials for each group, keep record of families interested in program participation, respond to inquiries, and prepare weekly skills reminder emails that are tailored to each group. The RA will also help with research fidelity - scoring assessments completed by parents and children and help to design and maintain the research database. The RA will help to create more program materials as needed under the guidance of the program director. The student will also have the opportunity to learn the intervention through attendance at one of the program sessions. Groups are held during the evenings on Monday and Thursdays, so student must be able to attend one of the sessions.

Biobehavioral Research in Children with Life-threatening Illnesses

Faculty Sponsor: 
Evan, Elana E.
Department: 
Pediatrics
Contact Name: 
Elana E. Evan, PhD
Room Number: 
22-464 MDCC
Phone: 
310-206-1771
Description of Research Project: 
The Children's Comfort Care Program at the UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital is home to an active biobehavioral research lab focusing on the care of children with serious illnesses. These are just a few examples of a variety of exciting, open projects with volunteer opportunities: Pediatric Symptom Communication Study: The goal of this study is to understand children's experiences of physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms during serious illness and determine the extent to which parents and children agree about the symptom experience; Communication Intervention: Help facilitate the implementation of a communication intervention for children with serious illnesses and their parents; Healthcare Provider Education: Assist during educational presentations and the distribution of information materials to healthcare staff who work with seriously ill children; provide support to track progress and efficacy of educational interventions for healthcare providers
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
"RESEARCH ASSISTANTS will be needed to: code qualitative interviews conduct literature reviews enter data assist in data management participate in related research and program development tasks ELIGIBILITY: completed Pysch 100B or an equivalent research methods course must be responsible & detail-oriented submit a resume must work well independently & with a team volunteer at least 8-10 hrs/wk "

Flash animations to depict social relationships

Faculty Sponsor: 
Fiske, Alan
Department: 
Anthropology
Contact Name: 
Alan Fiske
Room Number: 
Haines 324b
Phone: 
310 265-9193
Description of Research Project: 
I have an exciting research opportunity for one or two undergraduates who are proficient with Macromedia Flash and interested in pioneering new methods for exploring how people perceive social relations. We have completed 17 studies on how people in very diverse cultures perceive simple spatial arrays of circles. People consistently and readily interpret particular spatial configurations as depiciting specific types of elementary social relationships. Now we want to test hypotheses about the social interpretations of moving circles.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
The student(s) responsibility will be to program simple Flash animations to depict basic forms of social relationships. Then the programmers and other researchers will pilot-test the animations to see how people interpret them. The animations will consist of circles moving in fairly simple scripted ways. We anticipate trying out 20 or 30 animations, eliminating some based on pilot testing, revising others, and so on until we have a set that work well. Solid experience programming in Flash is a prerequisite. Ideally, student programmers will continue with this research for 2 or 3 quarters.

Social Skills Training for Children

Faculty Sponsor: 
Frankel, Fred
Department: 
Child Psychiatry
Contact Name: 
Vanessa Magula
Room Number: 
Semel Institute
Phone: 
310-825-0142
Description of Research Project: 
Our project seeks to assess effectiveness of parent assisted social skills training with children (ages 7-12) who have established deficits in making and/or keeping friends (including children with Autism Spectrum Disorders or ADHD). Each week we instruct them on important elements of socialization (i.e., conversational skills; peer entry and exiting strategies; handling teasing, bullying, and rejection; changing bad reputations; choosing peers wisely; handling arguments and disagreements; and having appropriate get-togethers with peers). Separate parent and child sessions are conducted concurrently for each week. Parents are taught how to assist their children in making and keeping friends by providing performance feedback through coaching during weekly in vivo socialization homework assignments. Kids are taught important social skills through didactic instruction, role-plays, and behavioral rehearsal during real play activities.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
The RA is needed to assist with our social skills interventions on Wednesday evenings. Research assistants will assist with preparing materials for intervention, conducting research fidelity during the group, assisting with behavior management, and providing performance feedback to children and teens through coaching during real play activities. In addition during the week the RA will assist with completing initial intake assessments with families--including helping administer/score assessments and keeping an up-to-date research database. We require a 2 quarter commitment. Must be available a couple of afternoons during the week as well as Wednesdays 5:15pm-8:15pm.

Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program

Faculty Sponsor: 
Freeman, Stephanny
Department: 
Child Psychiatry
Contact Name: 
Freeman, Stephanny
Room Number: 
Semel Institute 78-222
Description of Research Project: 
The Early Childhood Partial Hospitalization Program is a short-term integrated day treatment program for young children who have been diagnosed with, or may have, autism, developmental disabilities, and behavior disorders. The program uses a comprehensive
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
The position is entry-level and is focused heavily on data and database management (i.e., data collection, entering, checking, backing up, etc.). There is also opportunity to work within a project that requires filming in one of the therapeutic classrooms, and training in coding and identifying specific social behaviors. As an RA, you must be able to work independently (once fully trained), must be able to communicate via various modalities with the coordinator (e.g., email, notes, etc.), must be organized and thoughtful, and have some basic computer skills. Please note that there is no clinical (i.e., working directly with children and treatment) component to this position. We require 7 hours per week and strongly recommend two consecutive quarters (given the intensive training).

The Effects of Long-term Exposure to a Hostile Environment on Adolescence during Development

Faculty Sponsor: 
Fuligni, Andrew
Department: 
Psychology
Contact Name: 
Luis Martinez
Description of Research Project: 
At the end of the quarter a 5 page paper will be due. The paper will be on the effects of long-term exposure to a hostile environment on adolescence during development and it will include 3 peer-reviewed research articles which will have been read and critically analyzed.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
The student will be investing a minimum of 8 hours a week in the lab and his duties will include: checking data, entering data, filing in a systematic and accurate manner, preparing research materials, copies, and labeling.

Acts of Kindness Intervention

Faculty Sponsor: 
Fuligni, Andrew
Department: 
Psychology/Psychiatry
Contact Name: 
Danny Rahal
Description of Research Project: 
A study of the effects of completing kind acts on adolescent mental and physiological health. Participants will complete two in-person lab sessions and receive text messages instructing them to complete kind acts over the course of four weeks.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Tracking participant responses, scheduling text messages for teen participants, and following up with non-responsive participants on weekdays; meeting and consenting the participant, walking with participants for a blood draw, and setting up ECG under supervision during lab visits on weekend mornings.

Evaluating Substance Abuse Treatment Outcomes

Faculty Sponsor: 
Glasner-Edwards, Suzette
Department: 
Psychiatry
Contact Name: 
Suzette Glasner-Edwards
Room Number: 
Integrated Substance Abuse Programs
Phone: 
310-267-5206
Description of Research Project: 
In a series of clinical research projects, we are (1) developing new psychosocial and pharmacological treatments for substance abusers with concurrent mental illness; and (2) investigating clinical outcomes of patients enrolled in these, and other substance abuse treatment programs throughout California. In conducting these studies, we work closely with a variety of community substance abuse treatment programs in Los Angeles county as well as the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs.
Description of Student Responsibilities: 
Students will be involved in various aspects of the project, including data collection in substance abusing adults and youth ages 12-20, preparation of materials for submission to Institutional Review Boards of the Human Subjects Protection Committee of UCLA and the California state government, data entry and management, conducting literature searches, performing treatment program site visits, attending weekly staff meetings, scheduling of interviews with treatment providers, providing research support for presentations and papers, and assisting the Principal Investigator and Project Director in maintaining quality control in data collection.. These projects are ongoing and there are opportunities for extended involvement throughout the year.

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