Faculty Research Assistance Program (FRAP) Directory

The FRAP Directory allows students to identify UCSB faculty who are looking for undergraduate students to participate in their research projects or creative activities. Please use the links below to find opportunities by discipline. Students, if your desired discipline is not listed, please contact the Undergraduate Research Initiatives office at 805-893-3090 or urca@ltsc.ucsb.edu for assistance. Faculty, if you would like to post your research or creative activity opportunity, please complete the online submission form.

Psychological and Brain Sciences

Janusonis Skirmantas

Psychology East, Room 2827
(805) 893-6032

Research Project

Nearly all neural processes are physically embedded in a dense matrix of fibers that release serotonin. We investigate the deep structure of this matrix, including its interaction with other cellular elements (such as microglia) and cell fragments that carry peripheral serotonin. We use animal models and a number of techniques of cellular and molecular neurobiology (multiple-label immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy, quantitative PCR, and others). Some of our approaches are strongly interdisciplinary and include comparative/evolutionary neuroscience and computational modeling.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduate researchers work with graduate students and participate in all aspects of research. They are encouraged to master specific techniques (rather than superficially participate in all of them) and are expected to develop a "graduate-student mindset" in terms of professional integrity, technical accuracy, and human perseverance. A number of undergraduate researchers in the laboratory have become authors of peer-reviewed articles.


Interest in neurobiology (our research is not a good fit for students interested in psychology or cognitive neuroscience)

Interest in graduate school or medical school

GPA 3.5 or better

Sophomore or Junior standing (Seniors may be considered, but students typically need a year to achieve the expected technical level)

Commitment to research activities of at least 6 hours per week Experience in image analysis or computer coding is a plus (but not required)

Students from other departments are welcome to apply

Karen Szumlinski

Psych East 2816

Research Project

Current research in the laboratory has 3 major foci. One line of work examines the neurobiological underpinnings of drug-craving, with an emphasis on how time-dependent anomalies within prefrontal cortex might promote persistent drug-craving in abstinent individuals. A second line of work examines alcohol-stress interactions, with projects aimed at understanding the psychobiological effects of a history of repeated stress upon subsequent behavioral sensitivity to alcohol, as well as understanding the developmental impact of histories of binge drinking upon affect. The third major line of work relates to the neurobiology of methamphetamine addiction with on-going studies focusing upon the relations between dopamine and glutamate in addiction vulnerability. Research in my laboratory is interdisciplinary and involves behavioral, neuropharmacology, neurochemical and immunological approaches.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduate research assistants help in all aspects of the research, pending proper training and completion of federal guidelines for working with laboratory rodents in a research setting. This can include assistance with behavioral analyses, histological and molecular techniques, data management, and routine laboratory upkeep. Assistants must be able to work safely in a laboratory environment and follow instructions in a meticulous fashion.


•Grade point average of 3.0 or better.
•Commitment to research activities of at least 8-10 hours per week for a minimum of three quarters. 

Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology, Psychological and Brain Sciences

Michael Goard

5131 Bio II

Research Project

For this project, we are training mice to perform specific cognitive tasks so that we can study neural activity during behavior. For example, in one task, we are teaching mice to navigate through a virtual maze using a joystick. We then measure neural activity before and after they learn a new maze route to better understand the neural basis of learning in the neocortex.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduate researchers will contribute to animal training sessions. There will also be an opportunity to participate in lab meetings and other lab activities.


3.5 GPA or higher

Have taken an introductory neuroscience course (MCDB 151, Psych 111 or equivalent)

Comfortable working with animals (no previous experience necessary)

Basic fluency with MATLAB program language