Research Opportunities Spring 2020

Welcome to the Doris Bergen Center for Human Development, Learning and Technologies (CHDLT) Undergraduate Research Assistant matching webpage. The CHDLT’s goal is to promote interdisciplinary research among Miami University faculty members and students. The purpose of this webpage is to improve the ability of faculty to find eager students wanting to gain research experience and to give students the ability to seek out faculty members they may or may not be familiar with.

Being an Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA) is a great opportunity for students to gain experience and skills valued by employers, graduate schools and medical schools. The role of the URA varies depending on the faculty members’ needs which is dependent on their research interests. Below is a list of faculty members accepting inquiries from interested students. Please copy and paste the email link provided to contact the faculty member. When contacting a faculty member, please include your name, year, major, and say that you are responding to the CHDLT Research Opportunities page, as well as any additional items the faculty member requests.

I am actively seeking undergraduate research assistants

kristy brannDr. Kristy Brann (Educational Psychology)


Please include: A resume and a paragraph on research/career interests

Research Interests: School mental health systems and teacher school mental health literacy

suzane klattDr. Suzanne Klatt (Family Social Work and Director of the Mindfulness and Contemplative Inquiry Center)


Please Include: Name, Year, and Major

Research Interests: Since 1996 my specialty and research is broadly connected to mindfulness and contemplative inquiry, often applied in community, anti-oppressive, using contemplative methods, and in the context of various themes (trauma, pedagogy, particular points across the lifespan, program development, best practices, etc.). Join me!

Vaishali Raval Dr. Vaishali Raval (Psychology)


Please include: GPA

Research Interests: Our lab is interested in understanding parent-child relationships, emotions, and child and adolescent mental health in international populations and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. Knowledge in psychology is primary 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). We know relatively little about parenting practices and mental health in other groups, and our lab aims to fill this gap.

I would consider a student as an undergraduate assistant

Veronica R. BarriosDr. Veronica Barrios (Family Science and Social Work)


Please include: Name, year, major, gpa, research interests, and how you see your research interest relating to my research

Research Interests: My research focuses primarily on the disclosure of sexual violence through a intersectional qualitative lens. I have current projects on creating an interview guide for clinical practitioners to facilitate disclosure for survivors of sexual violence; disclosure of sexual violence between siblings; and sex workers' experiences with childhood trauma. I also works on training and evaluation projects with community organizations such as Women Helping Women.

Kathrine KuvalankaDr. Kathrine Kuvalanka (Family Science and Social Work)


Please include: A brief explanation of why they are interested in joining the Trans*Kids Project as a student researcher and/or any experience they have with LGBTQ individuals or communities.

Research Interests: The Trans*Kids Project is a longitudinal study of 50 families with transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) children from across the U.S. A goal of the project is to help inform individuals and communities about how to better support TGD youth and their families. Student researchers assist with data management and analysis and other research-related tasks.

Ally MurphyDr. Ally Murphy (Family Science and Social Work)


Please include: A resume

Research Interests: I am currently working on Promoting Resilient-Single Parent Families project, I will be needing 2 undergraduate assistants in the Summer. Other research interests: Family-at-Risks, Resiliency, Adverse Childhood Adversity to Cognitive Development, Trauma-Informed.

Racheal RothrockDr. Racheal Rothrock (Teacher Education)


Please include: A brief statement (~100 words) on what your research interests are and any details on plans if they have advanced to that stage.

Research Interests: My research takes up issues of equity and socio-spatial justice within education. My work has specifically taken up the notion of "community" in connection to teachers' beliefs and practices. I draw from critical and postmodern theoretical frameworks to think about inequities in education and schooling across disciplines and at different levels (e.g. K-12 classroom, K-12 school, higher education, etc.) through sociological and geographic lenses.

Nathaniel BryanDr. Nathaniel Bryan (Teacher Education)


Please include: Name, year, major

Research Interests: Black boys and male teachers in early childhood education; urban education; culturally relevant pedagogy; and critical race theory

Valarie UbbesDr. Valerie A. Ubbes (Kinesiology and Health)


Please include: GPA, Resume, Career Plans

Research Interests: The eBook for Oral Health Literacy is a free, online curriculum of picture stories showing children demonstrating positive oral health habits with family, friends, and health professionals. Each photograph is supported by written and oral scripts to promote healthy habits for brushing and flossing teeth along with improved nutrition. Please visit my website.

Our goal is to boost oral health and literacy in one-minute intervals through an interactive eBook that reads to children. We have 17 chapters, 20 vocabulary spotlights, and 4 educational newsletters for teachers and parents to help amplify the campaign reach to children. Bookmarks with a digital QR code are handed out to children in their "toothbrush bags" when they finish their dental check-ups with pediatric dentists in private practice and/or school-based health clinics. The bookmark connects children to a digital story on the way home in the car or school bus -- and then they can read a different story with their parents before bed each night.

We are also open to school classroom interventions for elementary children and have had field tests going on with student teachers and nutrition educators in local schools. Research indicates that the most common chronic childhood disease is dental cavities (tooth infections). Our own research shows that students with the lowest literacy behaviors report fewer health behaviors (e.g., regular dental check-ups). Therefore, we address reading and health in tandem through our eBook for Oral Health Literacy.

Trace PollDr. Trace Poll (Speech and Language Pathology)


Please include: A short ~150 word personal statement about your interest in the topic

Research Interests: My research focuses on improving assessment of adolescents and young adults who are at risk for developmental language disorders (DLD).  Of particular interest is improving assessment practices to profile the social communication abilities of adolescents transitioning to work, independent living, and post-secondary education.  I also explore differentiating characteristics of adults with DLD in order to inform more accurate assessment.  I enjoy working with students who share my interests language, applications of linguistics to clinical practice, and contributing to better outcomes for adolescents with disabilities.

Dawna (Cricket) Meehan Dr. Dawna (Cricket) Meehan (Psychology)


Please include: Your interest in school mental health ~150 words

Research Interests: Examining the mental health and school success of children and adolescents through the promotion of school mental health programs and services

April SmithDr. April Smith (Psychology)


Please include: This application form in your email (insert file supplied by Dr. Smith).

Research Interests: The ultimate goal of my research program is to reduce suicide-related morbidity and mortality, particularly among individuals with eating disorders. My most recent work, which includes a meta-analysis (Smith et al., in press; Smith et al., in press), examines whether eating disorders are longitudinal predictors of suicidality. This work highlights the crucial need for methodologically rigorous research to more conclusively determine the nature of the association between eating disorders and suicidality, as well as the timing of the mortality risk. My work also investigates factors that may make individuals susceptible to both disordered eating and suicidal behavior—such as interoceptive deficits. Interoception refers to being aware of emotional and physical sensations in the body (e.g., hunger, cold, heart rate, anxiety). People with interoceptive deficits are literally “out of touch” with their bodies. This disconnect from the body may facilitate self-injury. Our research supports this supposition, and suggests that interoceptive deficits not only differentiate those who think about suicide from those who engage in suicidal behavior, but may also provide information about who is at imminent risk for suicidal behavior (Forest et al., 2015; Smith et al., 2017). Finally, I am very interested in translating my research to intervention platforms that are inexpensive and widely accessible. To that end I am working to develop accessible (i.e., computer and smartphone based) interventions for disordered eating.

Aarom LuebbeDr. Aaron Luebbe (Psychology)


Please include: Name, year, major, minimum GPA of 2.75

Research Interests: The Family Relationships and Mood lab studies how emotion processes, family relationships, and biological responses to stress interact to put adolescents at risk for depression and anxiety. RAs assist with data entry and management, behavioral coding (i.e., watching videos and assigning scores), data collection, and other lab tasks. A select group of students interested in neuroscience assist with collection of data using Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy.

Jeffrey HungerDr. Jeffrey Hunger (Psychology)


Please include: A resume

Research Interests: In my lab we study the mental and physical health consequences of being a member of a stigmatized group (e.g., racial and sexual minorities, higher weight individuals)