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 Initiative (AHMREI)

AHMREI is an applied research project that implements relationship education programs for youth and adults and evaluates program effectiveness. AHMREI welcomes undergraduates as service learning students interested in teaching relationship education in high schools, as well as undergraduate research assistants interested in collecting, entering, and managing data. Internships are also available that offer the full experience of community-based relationship programs and research methods.

Any HDFS 1-3 Francesca Adler-Baeder
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/
2-3 Mona El-Sheikh, Ph.D.
Bridget Wingo (Lab Manager)
Social Development Lab

he 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, we are conducting 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

We evaluate how therapists-in-training effectively offer services to clients who receive relationship therapy at our on-campus clinic. We want to make sure that our services to all clients are practical and beneficial. We need undergraduate team members who enter and clean data, who score and post client assessment reports for therapeutic review. Eventually, you can also gain the ability to audit case files, code therapy sessions, and role-play with developing therapists.

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.

1 - 3 Mallory Lucier-Greer, Ph.D.
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.

Health Concentration 1-3 Josh Novak
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 Rachel Odomes
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 national outreach program started in 2008. Parents subscribe to a monthly newsletter, and they tell us that this is more valuable than friends and family. This project is moving into an active research and development phase, exploring parents’ use of digital media, and how to use analytics to optimize use of “small public health space.” We are seeking interns, and volunteers to help with Spanish translation, website development, proofing, and google analytics analysis.

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

This community-based research study explores how community programs and services 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.

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