Undergrad Assistants

Looking for Research Opportunities in Our Lab?

Talitha trains a new research assistant on one of our EMG studies.
Talitha trains a new research assistant on one of our studies.

Each quarter we have between 6 and 10 undergraduate research assistants in the lab. We cannot do our work without help from smart and dedicated undergraduates helping us prepare and execute our studies.We are always looking for new people. If you are interested in working in the lab, simply email us. Before doing so, please pay attention to these guidelines:

The Email

You can email us anytime and inquire about research opportunities in the next quarter, but we won’t really start responding until after the 5th of 6th week (we won’t know who’s returning until just about the time enrollment opens up). We suggest not emailing us until then. When emailing, please:
  1. Attach a copy of your transcript (unofficial) from all colleges you’ve attended. We are particularly looking for which courses you’ve taken, what grades you received, and your GPA (preferably for each quarter). Usually you can just copy this from the UCSC portal.
  2. Please mention if you have taken any courses from Dr. Seymour
  3. Please mention if you have worked in any other research lab..if so, with which professor(s)?


The Deal

  1. If you are a current undergrad, you must take Psych 194B to work in the lab. You can work in the lab as a volunteer, but only after at least 1 quarter of 194B, and usually only for students who have demonstrated reliable and diligent work.
  2. If you have a GPA lower than 3.4, you will not likely be selected to work in the lab. HOWEVER, If your GPA is low, but only because of issues in your first couple quarters of college, we may make an exception. Thus, if there is a clear trend in your transcript showing some dramatic change in your recent courses, go ahead and apply even if your GPA is between 3.0 and 3.4. If your GPA is lower than a 3.0, you will not be able to work in the lab, although we encourage you to apply later if your GPA increases. Being a research assistant in our lab is a solid amount of work — we are uneasy about students taking on such a responsibility if they should probably be using that extra time boosting their GPA.
  3. You must agree to work 15 hours (the department actually makes you sign to this, it’s not our rule) in the lab and have at least 10 free during prime research hours (from 9-5 M-F).
  4. If you are selected to work in the lab, there will still be one additional hoop: We will choose one or two weekly meetings that as many people as possible can attend. If you cannot attend our required meetings, you will not be able to work in the lab that quarter.
  5. You must be super reliable, check email frequently, be able to follow instructions well, not miss more than 2 of our lab meetings, and be able to communicate with us via email and in lab meetings. If any of this appears to be lacking, you may be dropped from 194B and asked to leave the lab (this is very rare, but it does happen).
  6. Most of our studies involve computers or some other electronic hardware in some way and are usually somewhat technical. If you are computer-phobic or have very little experience with them, you may find working in the lab quite challenging.
  7. 194B is not a free A. Your grade will reflect the quality of your work in the lab.
  8. There may be a short reading list that will be expected to cover.
  9. You will occasionally be asked to read and summarize research articles.
  10. You may be asked to write a brief paper towards the end of the quarter.

Senior Thesis

If you are interested in doing a senior thesis, currently have a B+, A-, or A average GPA, and have some ideas about projects that fit within my research program, setup a time to meet with Dr. Seymour about it. A senior thesis is a lot of work for both you and your supervisor. You must already have done a great job as a research assistant in the lab for at least 1 quarter (sometimes 2), have some ideas about what you want to do, and are willing to commit to two additional quarters for the 199. If this sounds like you, let us know.

Undergraduates with Programming Skill

You would be surprised at how many cool things can be done to advance cognitive science by those interested in both computers/computation/ai and psychology. If you can program in some standard computer language (Visual Basic, Real Basic, Pascal, C, C++, Java, Python, Processing, LISP, or whatever), have an interest in either building tools to help psychologists do their work, or have an interest in simulating human behavior (sorta like AI but the goal is to simulate exactly how humans approach a task), then we need you!!

An example of some research questions you could help with: Videogame Strategy — we want to look at how individual differences lead different strategies in videogames. We need someone to either code up a simple game, or tweak code from an existing game. Simulating Human Performance — If you know C++, we have an entire research program in which we simulate human behavior using a “computational cognitive architecture”. We need help representing the tasks we’ve had human do (like driving, flying airplanes, playing connect 4 or Tetris) in C++ so that our virtual human can interact with it. Once you do that, you would be free to help us program the virtual human (it’s a lot more fun than C++ and only requires simple IF-THEN rules — it’s more psychology than programming). If you have experience programming with the Python programming language, especially if you’re done anything with PyGame or Pyglet, we have several cool projects you could help us with!

If any of this sounds interesting, please contact Dr. Seymour. You would need to enroll in a psychology course, but there is some flexibility as to which one you’d get credit for. 194B is one possibility, but we can discuss this.

If you have any other questions, contact Dr. Seymour.
Posted in Participate.