Undergraduate Research Opportunities

HDFS faculty welcome the participation of undergraduate students in their research. Interested students should contact faculty directly to learn about the focus of the various research projects and available opportunities for participation. Involvement in undergraduate research is a great way to strengthen your application for graduate school.

 

Internship Details

Study Concentration Credits Contact
Alabama Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education (AHMRE) Project

The AHMRE Project is an applied research project that implements relationship education programs with adult couples and evaluates program effectiveness. The AHMRE project welcomes undergraduates interested in undergraduate research assistantships or practicum. Opportunities include collecting, entering, and managing data, as well as recruiting for and observing classes in the community. Internships are also available that offer the full experience of community-based relationship programs and research methods.

Any HDFS 1-3 Julianne McGill
Alabama Youth Relationship Education (AYRE) Project

AYRE is an applied research project that implements relationship education programs for youth in high schools and evaluates the comparative effectiveness of two program implementation models. AYRE welcomes undergraduates from any major as service-learning students interested in facilitating relationship education in high schools, as well as undergraduate research assistants interested in collecting, entering, and managing program participant data. Internships are also available during fall and spring semesters that offer the full experience of community-based relationship programs and research methods.

Any HDFS 1-3 Vanessa Finnegan
Staying Connected: A Father Engagement Program

Staying Connected is a father-focused parent interventions with Head Start fathers. Dr. Akande is collecting parenting data from fathers with children in Head Start programs through individual interviews and focus groups.

Fatherhood 2 - 4 Katrina Akande, Ph.D.
Preservation of Local African American History

The focus of the research project is to assist with researching, writing, and presenting the forgotten history of African Americans interred in historic cemeteries.

3 Robert Bubb, Ph.D.
Child Sleep, Health, & Development Lab

Our research focuses on examining the effects of stress (e.g., poverty, marital aggression) on adolescents’ and young adults’ sleep patterns, mental and physical health, physiological regulation and cognitive functioning. Internships and volunteer opportunities available.

Any Major/
Concentration
2-3 Mona El-Sheikh, Ph.D.
Bridget Wingo (Lab Manager)
Social Development Lab

The Social Development Lab examines the peer relationships of children and adolescents with a focus on how those relationships influence socioemotional health and school adjustment. Currently, students in the lab will help with analysis and writing papers from existing data sets, particularly from the Friendship Hero Project, an evaluation of a clinical intervention to increase positive bystander behavior (i.e., defending) in response to bullying.

Elementary age 1 - 4 Wendy Troop-Gordon, Ph.D.
Marriage and Family Therapy Center Clinical Research

AUMFT is an applied research project that evaluates the effectiveness of systemic therapy services at the main center and two satellite offices for individuals, couples, and families receiving treatment. AUMFT is excited to train undergraduates interested in observational coding of therapist behaviors. Additionally, undergraduates collect, enter, and manage data related to client outcomes, and create clinical effectiveness reports. Internships are also available that connect students to all aspects of the therapy process, auditing therapist paperwork, and receiving client intakes, which are related to evaluating clinical outcomes for couples and families.

Any HDFS
concentration
2 - 6 Scott A. Ketring, Ph.D.
Military REACH

The Military REACH team welcomes undergraduate students as research assistants and interns. The purpose of this project is to translate research on military families into implications and useful tools. Policy makers at the Department of Defense, military leadership, helping professionals, and military families use our work to inform their decisions and practices with regard to military families.

Any HDFS
concentration
1 - 3 Mallory Lucier-Greer, Ph.D.
Neighborhood Resources and Early Childhood Development

The main goal of the study is to provide an understanding of the complex interplay between neighborhood risk and resources and children’s socioemotional, cognitive, and language skills across racial/ethnic groups. By utilizing a broad range of neighborhood factors, the study aims to create a neighborhood disadvantage index and examine how neighborhood risk and protective factors are associated with paternal and maternal mental health, parenting, and children's socio-emotional and cognitive development. The study also aims to identify high-risk neighborhoods and underserved areas of Alabama using Geographical Information Systems, and disseminate the results to programs and services to make resources available to those who could benefit most.

Any CHS students 2 - 4 Elif Dede Yildirim
Relationships and Health Lab

The Relationships and Health Lab focuses on the nexus of couple relationships and health behaviors and outcomes in couples with chronic illnesses (Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc.). We are an interdisciplinary team consisting of people from many departments around campus, including nutrition, exercise science, pharmacy, and nursing. We are interested in studying how couple relationship processes in couples with chronic illnesses may help to improve engagement in healthy behaviors (such as diet, exercise, mindfulness, etc.) through improving emotional and mental health. Conversely, we are also interested in understanding how health and wellness (or lack of) influence relationship processes.
relationshipsandhealthlab.weebly.com

Health Concentration 1-3 Josh Novak, PhD, LMFT
The Alabama Department of Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention (ADCANP)
Strengthening Families Through Fathers (SFTF)

In partnership with the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR), the Children’s Trust Fund awarded federal dollars to community-based fatherhood programs. The SFTF study explores fatherhood program specific services successfully support the development of protective factors with fatherhood program participants with the goal of strengthening children and families in Alabama. As a member of the research team, you will enhance your knowledge of social science research that can be applied to coursework and develop database management skills while working with statistical software. You will also be able to network and build relationships with peers, graduate students, and faculty in HDFS.

Any HDFS 1-3 Donna Roland
The Alabama Department of Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention (ADCANP)
The Children’s Trust Fund (CTF)

The Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (ADCANP) is the state lead agency designated to prevent child abuse and neglect and is explicitly focused on educating Alabama communities in the Strengthening Families™ framework. ADCANP oversees 150 plus community-based prevention programs focused on reducing risk factors for child maltreatment. The ADCANP/CTF Evaluation project welcomes undergraduate students from any major who are interested in learning more about the processes of program evaluation such as collecting and entering program participant data and an overview of research methods used to analyze data. We offer undergraduate research and internship opportunities. As a member of the research team, you will enhance your knowledge of social science research that can be applied to coursework and develop database management skills while working with statistical software. You will also be able to network and build relationships with peers, graduate students, and faculty in HDFS.

Any HDFS 1-3 Donna Roland
The Alabama Department of Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention (ADCANP)
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Evaluation Project

In partnership with the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR), the Children’s Trust Fund awarded federal TANF dollars to community-based fatherhood programs. The TANF study explores if fatherhood program specific services successfully support the development of protective factors with fatherhood program participants with the goal of strengthening children and families in Alabama. The ADCANP/TANF Evaluation project welcomes undergraduate students from any major who are interested in learning more about the processes of program evaluation such as collecting and entering program participant data and an overview of research methods used to analyze data. We offer undergraduate research and internship opportunities. As a member of the research team, you will enhance your knowledge of social science research that can be applied to coursework and develop database management skills while working with statistical software. You will also be able to network and build relationships with peers, graduate students, and faculty in HDFS.

Any HDFS 1-3 Donna Roland
RESTORE Research Lab

RESTORE stands for “Research and Education with Sex Trafficking Survivors on Resilience and Empowerment.” This team conducts quantitative and qualitative research on the unique needs and experiences of sex trafficking survivors to improve the quality of person-centered recovery resources available to survivors and their family members.

Adult survivors 1 - 4 Lauren M. Ruhlmann, Ph.D.
Adolescent and Young Adult Development Lab

Dr. Samek’s lab is currently focused on collecting data from students as they transition into and out of college. We collect data on their substance use, personality, family, peer, and romantic relationships, as well as other related topics.

Adolescents Minimum of 3 Diana Samek, Ph.D.
Enhancing Social-emotional Developing through Emotion Coaching Parenting Education (Tuning in to Kids)

In 2019, 31 facilitators were certified to offer TiK in Alabama, becoming the 3rd state to offer this research-based program. We are currently engage in an action research program and are seeking undergraduate and graduate students interested in a community-based outreach education with parents.

Any HDFS 1-3 Silvia Vilches, Ph.D.
Just in Time National Parenting Outreach (Digital)

The JITP project (jitp.info) is a very successful national digital outreach parenting education newsletter with over a decade of market research. This project is moving into an active research and development phase, exploring parents’ use of digital media, and how to use analytics to promote evidence-based parenting information for public benefit.

CADS/HDFS 1-3 Silvia Vilches, Ph.D.
Strengthening Families Study

This community-based research study, now in data analysis stage, explores how community programs successfully support the development of protective factors and prevent child abuse and neglect in Alabama. The results will identify ways that services and supports can be enhanced to promote child development and family functioning.
SaPHIRE – Starting Physical Health Intervention Really Early! This pilot project will involve teachers and parents at six smaller and larger child care centers in Alabama to understand ways of encouraging physical activity among pre-school age children in outdoor play settings. Pending ethics review, data collection will start in the fall of 2021.

Parenting 1-4 Silvia Vilches, Ph.D.
Auburn University Early Learning Center

The Auburn University Early Learning Center is an accredited laboratory preschool serving children ages 3, 4 and 5 years old in half day sessions. Children attend from 8:30-11:30 or from 12:30-3:30. The center, begun in 1926, has been continuously accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children since 1986.

Early Childhood Development 2 - 6 Sharon Wilbanks