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RA Positions in Faculty Labs

In addition to teaching and other duties, most tenure-line faculty in the Psychology Department have active research labs focused on specific topics within psychology (e.g.  Romantic Relationships, Stress, Autism) in which they are continuously collecting data, analyzing it, and preparing it for publication. Being a Research Assistant (RA) in a faculty member’s research lab is one of the best ways to get research and applied experience while in school – not to mention, it looks great on your resume and on your applications to graduate school! 

Although working as an RA in a research lab is a time intensive and demanding role that requires a high degree of responsibility and professionalism, it can be a great way to get a strong letter of recommendation or job reference from a faculty member too while also working in a team, learning more about research methods and building skills that can be applied to a variety of different careers. Often, you can also get Psych 499 credit (which counts as a psychology elective) in exchange for your work in a faculty member's lab (for more information regarding PSYC 498/499, please visit FAQS ABOUT INDEPENDENT STUDY (498) AND INDEPENDENT RESEARCH (499) ). 

Faculty Name Research Area(s) Job Information How To Apply
Dr. Nancy Caine Comparative Psychology

Openings: Dr. Caine is not accepting new RA's at this time.

Position Details: Research assistants participate in: development of research ideas; preparation of stimuli; data collection in both the lab and field; coding videos; data analysis and interpretation.

Requirements: RAs will have completed all lower division course work and PSYC 360 with grades of B or better. Willingness to work outside in hot or cold weather is essential. RAs must be reliable, detail-oriented, and self-motivated, and must have a real interest in the study of animal behavior from an evolutionary perspective. Students who are simply looking for lab experience and are not truly interested in animal behavior research will not be good candidates.


I will talk with you in order to determine if there is potential for a good match between your goals/interests and the goals and activities of the Caine lab. Please note that I may not be able to include undergraduate research assistants until the COVID situation is better resolved.

Eligible students should contact me to begin a conversation.  In that email, please confirm that you have in fact met the requirements listed in the left column. Also, tell me when you expect to graduate and what your career goals are.  I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.   email Dr. Caine 
Dr. Dustin Calvillo Cognitive Psychology

Openings: Several openings for Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 

Position Details: Research assistants assist in developing research ideas; creating stimuli; collecting data in the laboratory; coding, entering, and analyzing data; and preparing abstracts and manuscripts. Students attend weekly lab meetings and schedule additional lab hours based on their availability. 

Requirements: Requirements include interest in cognitive psychology research and commitment to work in the lab for two consecutive semesters.

Interested students should email Dr. Calvillo to request an application.
Dr. Haylee DeLuca Bishop Developmental Psychology

Openings: Ongoing - applications reviewed in the last 5 weeks of the semester for openings in the next semester. 

Position Details: Research assistants are given the opportunity to help develop and conduct research projects. This includes conducting literature reviews, engaging in guided readings, developing research questions and identifying ways to test hypotheses, recruiting participants, cleaning and analyzing data, writing up results, attending lab meetings, and other tasks as needed.

Requirements: Minimum requirements include an interest in developmental psychology, availability to work for 10 hours per week, a commitment for at least two semesters, and a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

 How to apply: Go to and click on the CRAYA Lab tab; Complete the lab application and email it to Dr. DeLuca Bishop at


Dr. Gerardo M. Gonzalez Clinical Psychology

Opening Date: August 2019

Openings: Ongoing

Position Details: 1-2 Research Assistants

Learn animation application skills (content, scene creation, testing, evaluation, data collection, data analyses, write-up results)

Requirements: Students must be able to meet for a one-hour weekly lab meeting and commitment to a minimum of 5 hours per week.

Email Dr. Gonzalez
Dr. Lisa V. Graves  

Openings: Closed

Position Details: Student researchers will develop and apply skills in: neuropsychological testing; literature search/review; secondary data analysis; collection, management/reduction, and analysis of prospective data; connection and collaboration with the community; and preparation of conference presentations and manuscripts. 


  • Strong interest in the neuropsychology of aging, Alzheimer’s disease, and related dementias in diverse populations
  • Interest in pursuing graduate studies in neuropsychology
  • Commitment of 10 hours per week for at least 2 consecutive semesters
  • Willingness to complete intensive training in neuropsychological testing during the first semester
  • Prior completion of PSYC 220 (statistics) and PSYC 230 (research methods) with a B or better
  • Current or prior enrollment in PSYC 465 (neuropsychology)
Email Dr. Graves expressing your interest in joining her research lab.
Dr. Nate Carnes Social Psychology | Political Psychology | Evolutionary Psychology

Openings: No current openings

Start Date:  Dr. Carnes is on leave

Position Details: You will work as a collaborator in research on politics, morality, and social justice. Experimental Research Assistants will attend lab meetings, workshop study materials, and be an experimenter in human subject research (including fun behavioral economic games). Machine Learning Research Assistants will attend lab meetings and write code to scrape, process, or analyze big data. There are optional opportunities for all students to engage in guided readings, learn new skills, and earn authorship on papers by writing content for Method or Results sections.

Requirements: Available for 5 - 10 hours per week. There are no course requirements, but completion of PSYC 220 and 230 is preferred. Machine Learning Research Assistants must have some background in computer science (e.g., programming in Python).

Email Dr. Carnes ( explaining what research topic you are interested in and why you want to join the lab; please also report your GPA and class year.


Dr. Sharon Hamill Developmental Psychology

 Openings: No current openings

Position Details: Train to become a mentor in the Youth Resiliency Project. This project requires that we work in local middle schools and high schools with youth who have experienced trauma and toxic stress. Students will assist with the development of materials, program evaluation activities, presenting data at conferences and writing manuscripts.

Requirements: Students must be able to meet for a one-hour weekly lab meeting and commitment to a minimum of 5 hours per week.

No openings 
Dr. Alex Huynh Social Psychology

Openings: Limited openings, but accepting applications for Fall 2023

Position details:  Students will take part in the development of research ideas, recruiting participants, designing surveys, and completing literature searches. Students will also be responsible for data entry and data management (e.g., data cleaning through excel/spss). See for the type of research done in this research lab. Lab meetings are held every other week for 1-hr and you will be expected to attend

Requirements: Ability to volunteer 5-10 hours a week. There are no strict requirements, but students who have completed Psyc 220 (statistics), 230 (research methods) and 332 (social psychology) are preferred. Previous research lab experience is also a plus. You must be motivated, dependable, professional, and detail-oriented.

 Email: explaining why you’re interested in joining the lab. If you have a grade transcript or CV, that would also be appreciated in the email. 
Dr. Sasha Kimel Social Psychology |  Cultural Psychology

 Openings: Please email Dr. Kimel regarding the possibility of openings in the Culture and Intergroup Relations Lab

Position Details: Research assistants in the lab are often given the opportunity to help conduct several different research projects a semester and also tend to be involved in a variety of different tasks. RAs are often involved in participant recruitment, running experiments, providing feedback on study designs, coding and analyzing data, graphic design and/or design editing, conducting literature searches, and assisting with the writing of IRB and grant applications. Advanced students also sometimes design their own studies or help write manuscripts for publication.

Requirements: You do not need to have previous research experience! Rather, it is critical that you are self-motivated, have high attention to detail, are responsible and have timely email communication. Strong preference will be given to RAs who are able to commit to working in the lab for at least a year.... Advanced Stats is a plus!


 To apply, please email Dr. Kimel a copy of your resume or CV along with a short note about your interest in the lab. 
Dr. Janice Phung Developmental Psychology

Openings: Openings for Summer and academic year; please email to inquire

Position Details: Undergraduate research assistants will hold many responsibilities, including but not limited to the following tasks: Participant recruitment and enrollment, connect with community organizations, data management (e.g., data processing, data entry, data cleaning), assisting graduate students with collecting data from children, adolescents, and adults (at the university lab space and/or traveling to home visits in the regions surrounding San Marcos), coding behavior obtained from video-recordings, conducting literature searches, participation in lab meetings, presenting on research conducted. All RA's will be trained and supervised regularly.

Minimum Requirements: Commit to a minimum of 5 hours (up to 10 hours maximum) per week for a minimum of 6 months (12 month commitment preferred).

Desired/Preferred Qualifications: Experience and comfort working with people with disabilities and/or youth and families; ability to speak, read, and write Spanish proficiently; Driver's license and reliable vehicle and a willingness to travel locally to regions surrounding San Marcos to conduct home visits with families).



Application: Go to the Lab website: Under "Prospective Students," download an "RA Application." Email your completed application to


Dr. Kim Pulvers Clinical Psychology  | Health

Opening Date: Ongoing

Position Details: Survey, interview, and behavioral measures to understand demand for cannabis and tobacco, subsequent use, and behavioral health; deliver intervention modifying knowledge, perceptions, and behavior to reduce tobacco, e-cigarette, and cannabis waste

Requirements: Rigorous attention to detail and strong organizational skills, critical thinking/problem solving, interpersonal skills, and fast responsivity to email communication.

Must commit at least ten hours per week and two semesters and have completed Research Methods.

Go to Dr. Pulvers’ Faculty Site and click on the Prospective Students tab. Complete the lab application and email it to Dr. Pulvers at

Dr. Kimberly Vanderbilt Developmental Psychology | Social Psychology

Opening Date: Ongoing (with start dates in Summer, Spring/Fall)

Position Details: Travel to off-campus children's museum to interview children for our studies, and interact with families. Interviews are typically conducted at the end of each semester, for the summer or following semester. Applications accepted on a rolling basis.

Requirements: Experience working/interacting with children (formal or informal), availability from 10a-12p, at least 1 day a week, Mon-Sat.

Go to Dr. Vanderbilt's Faculty Site, go to the "ROCKSTAR lab" tab, download and complete the application OR email 
Dr. Allison Jobin Developmental Psychology | Clinical Psychology

Openings: Ongoing

Position Details: Research conducted in the SPARCC Lab is focused on treatment for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families and the delivery of effective evidence-based practices in community settings. Student researchers assist with literature reviews, participant recruitment and enrollment, data collection/entry, behavioral coding, and related tasks. 

Requirements: Minimum requirements include the ability to work 8-10 hours/week with a commitment of at least 2 semesters and an interest in services supporting children with ASD, their families, and community providers. Preference for students with the following: match between student interest/goals and that of the research lab, professionalism, attention to detail, motivation, accountability, and openness to learning and feedback.


Complete an online application, and also reach out to lab to express your interest. I will reach out you following completion of these steps. 



Dr. Aleksandria Perez Grabow Clinical Psychology | Counseling Psychology

Openings: Ongoing

 Position Details: Participant recruitment and enrollment, data management (e.g., data entry, data cleaning through Excel/SPSS, monitoring electronic data collection), collecting data from children, adolescents, and adults, coding responses, literature searches, participation in lab meetings, and presenting on research conducted.

Requirements: Ability to work 10 hours per week and a commitment for a least two semesters. Applicants with the following qualities will be given the highest consideration: interest/match between student goals and goals of the research lab, professionalism (e.g., communication skills, responsibility, timeliness), motivation and openness to learning and feedback, curiosity, and a demonstrated commitment to the lab.

Interested students can download and complete the application on the CSUSM Trauma Healing Lab Website. Please email the completed application to 

Dr. Grabow's Faculty Site

Dr. Carrick Williams Visual Cognition

Openings: Ongoing

Position Details: The Visual Cognition and Tracking Lab examines how vision, attention, and memory all work together in processing the visual world (e.g., objects and scenes). RAs in the lab will: Discuss and develop research ideas; Run experiments in visual cognition; process and analyze data; participate in laboratory meetings.

Requirements: 3.0 GPA minimum and previously passed PSYC 362 with a B or better. Ability to work 10 hours per week. Motivated and interested in cognitive psychology. Committed to work in the lab for at least 2 semesters.

Email Dr. Williams to request an application.
Dr. Yu Zhang Developmental Psychology

Openings: Ongoing

Position Details:
The Child Learning and Cognition (CLC) Lab, led by Dr. Yu Zhang, conducts research on children's and adolescents' learning through naturalistic observations, lab experiments, and surveys. As a Research Assistant, your role will involve contributing to literature reviews, developing stimuli for observations and experiments, creating surveys using Qualtrics, assisting in participant recruitment, handling data collection/entry, engaging in behavioral coding, and managing data.

We offer on-the-job training and provide opportunities for professional development. As a Research Assistant, you will acquire essential skills that align with your future career goals in various fields, including education, healthcare, non-profit organizations, research institutes, family and children's centers, and more.


  • Interest in developmental psychology.
  • Comfort in communicating and working with families with children.
  • Strong attention to detail.
  • Willingness to learn and take initiative.
  • Availability to work a minimum of 10 hours per week (with a total allowance of 20 hours).
  • Commitment for at least two semesters.
  • A GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Interested students should complete an online application.