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.

Political Science

Pei-te Lien

Location:
EH 3709
893-4983

Research Project

Who are the Asian Pacific American elected officials serving at state and local levels offices? How did they get to where they are? And what obstacles did they need to overcome? Taking advantage of a one-of-a-kind dataset collected for the Gender and Multicultural Leadership (GMCL) project in 2006-7, I propose a systematic examination of the political trajectories of the nation’s population of APA men and women serving in various subnational offices as state legislators, county commissioners, city mayors, city council members, and school board members. Factors to consider include their ethnicity, educational and family background, political orientation, community organizational involvement, non-electoral and electoral career track, and key issue concerns.

Undergraduate Contribution

An undergraduate student interested in US electoral politics, especially Asian American politics, can contribute by helping conduct on-line search for the background information of each of the elected officials identified in the GMCL project. He or she can also help organize data using the Excel spreadsheet and provide preliminary analysis.

Requirements

PS 12 and PS 161 or PS 160, plus PS 15 or 104 or the equivalent.

English

Alan Liu

Location:
South Hall 2521
(805) 893-7488

Research Project

The Arnhold Collaborative Research Group that I lead in the English Department is titled "Making the Humanities Public." The group researches media coverage of the humanities with the assistance of a machine-learning "topic model" of thousands of newspaper articles, draws up analyses and recommendations for humanities advocacy based on its findings, and builds digital and other projects that act on its recommendations (e.g., projects that demonstrate how to represent the humanities in a new light to the public).

Undergraduate Contribution

Working under my supervision and that of a graduate student, undergraduates collaboratively use analyses and findings from research into media coverage of the humanities to design projects that show how the humanities can be presented in new ways to public audiences--e.g., with new narratives, evidence, examples, etc. The imagined audiences for these projects include legislators, journalists, business people, parents, and others.

Requirements

Students need to have been involved in the preceding Winter 2017 "Making the Humanities Public" Arnhold Collaborative Research Group. The English 199RA associated with the project in Spring 2017 builds from the earlier research activities of the project.

Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology

Matthieu Louis

Location:
Biology II 3141
(805) 893-5877

Research Project

Animals navigate sensory gradients to find food and to avoid danger. Navigation in response to chemicals is called chemotaxis. This process involves sensory coding (internal representation of the stimulus) and decision making (directional control of locomotion). We tackle both problems in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster larva. Our research aims to explain how odor tracking comes about in terms of computations achieved by neural circuits. We combine a variety of experimental and computational techniques to define how naturalistic olfactory stimuli are represented and processed by the larval olfactory system. In addition, we seek to identify and functionally characterize the neural pathways involved in the combination of olfactory information (food odors, pheromones) with signals from other sensory modalities (temperature, light) to make coherent navigational decisions.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduate students joining our lab will be exposed to the tools and approaches of systems neuroscience. They will be mentored by a graduate student or a post-doctoral fellow. Undergraduates with an experimental background will enjoy discovering techniques of data analysis and computational modeling. In addition, they will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with a variety of lab techniques including fly molecular genetics, behavioral quantification and optogenetics (control of neural activity with light). Undergraduate students with a more theoretical background (physicists and engineers) will be introduced to experimental neuroscience; they will learn how to design and perform behavioral experiments.

Requirements

Undergraduate students should be sophomores or above, and they should have minimum 3.4 of overall GPA. Given the sensitive nature of behavioral experiments in general, we are looking for highly motivated individuals who can commit to working in the lab a minimum of 10 hours per week for 1 year. Students with a background in physics, engineering and computer sciences are welcome to apply too.

David Low

Location:
3306 LSB
893-5597

Research Project

Analysis of contact-dependent growth inhibition between bacterial cells. Genetic screens and selections for CDI-resistant mutants.

Undergraduate Contribution

Set up and carry out genetics screens and selections for contact-dependent growth inhibition. Investigate pathways by which CDI toxins are delivered and kill target bacterial cells.

Requirements

Prefer student has taken MCDB 101A with a B or better and have some lab experience, 10-20 hrs/wk school year, need to be free in summer to work, full-time, with support likely. Looking for motivated, self-starter, research-oriented students.

Zach Ma

Location:
3119 LSB
893-4745

Research Project

Research in our group focuses on the unconventional functions of histone H3 lysine 4 methyltransferase complexes (H3K4MTs), an epigenetic machinery which methylates histone H3 lysine 4 in the nucleus.  In particular we are investigating the surprising roles of H3K4MT subunits in cell division, ciliary function and infection/immunity. H3K4 methylation is a hallmark of active transcription. Mutation and misregulation of H3K4MT subunits is directly linked to cancers, life span/aging, immunity, diabetes, mental retardation, and stem cell differentiation. Current literature almost exclusively focuses on the relationship between H3K4MT complexes and transcription; however, whether these proteins have any cytoplasmic functions is little known. Discovering these non-transcriptional activities is key to clarifying the association of H3K4MTs with pathophysiological events.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduates will typically spend the first one or two quarters being trained in basic molecular, cellular and biochemical skills. Then the undergraduate will contribute to the research in one of the three areas mentioned above (cell division, ciliary function or infection and immunity). The undergraduates will be placed in teams of 3-4 people and will each work individually towards a common goal. 

Requirements

There are no specific course requirements, although a strong passion in research is required. Most projects will require a minimum time commitment of 10hrs per week.

Physics

Philip Lubin

Location:
2015C Broida
893-8432

Research Project

Experimental Astrophysics and Cosmology Group
Please see our website www.deepspace.ucsb.edu for more details.
We offer multiple projects including:
1) Studies of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) - This remnant radiation from the beginning of the universe has contained with its spatial and polarization structure the keys to the past, present and future evolution of our universe. For example the composition of ordinary matter, dark matter and dark energy can be derived from the CMB. It is also possible that we will find evidence for gravitational waves from the early moments of the universe if the current ideas about inflation are correct. See the latest results from the Planck satellite for our recent results.

2) Anomalous emission from our galaxy - Our galaxy emits radiation from various processes including synchrotron radiation from energetic charged particles interacting with the galactic magnetic field and the emission from dust grains in interstellar space. There is an anomalous emission from our galaxy that is currently not well explained that we are studying.

3) Infrared balloon borne studies of high redshift galaxies - Our group flies payloads on very high altitude vehicles at altitudes up to 145,000 feet. This is far above any fixed wing aircraft and allows us to study the infrared signature of high redshift galaxies with much higher sensitivity that ground based observations.

4) Reionization at high redshift - The universe starts with extremely high temperature and the matter is ionized. It subsequently cools and largely become neutral after about 400,000 years. Subsequently when the first stars and galaxies form there is a large release of ultraviolet radiation from these early stars that appears to reionize the universe. We are looking for evidence of this period which is critical to understand.

5) Directed Energy Planetary Defense - recent advances in high power laser amplifiers allow extremely high power directed energy systems that enable future systems to deflect asteroids and comets that threaten the Earth.

6) Photon driven spacecraft - with the same elements we use for directed energy planetary defense it is feasible to propel spacecraft with the propulsion provided by photon drive. The advantage of this is that no mass in needed on the spacecraft for propulsion and thus much lower mass spacecraft can be designed and extremely high speeds can be achieved.

7) Advanced Morphable telescopes - conventional telescopes use fixed mirrors that require extremely precisely aligned elements. We are working on adaptive telescope designed that morph themselves into the proper shape using servo control via a laser interferometer.

Undergraduate Contribution

We have had more than 600 undergrads do research with us. Undergraduates participate in all aspects of our programs from conceptual design and theoretical analysis to experiments to data analysis and publications.

Requirements

An ability to excel and think outside the box is the most critical requirement. Everything else can be learned. Useful skills that are helpful would be previous experience with computers and programming, electronics, mechanical systems and mechanical design (CAD). Students can get credit via independent research as appropriate.

Sociology

Professor Zakiya Luna

Location:
3409 Social Science and Media Studies

Research Project

Social movements scholars have consistently been interested in understanding the consequences of movements. Movements can shift public policy, create new identities, influence other movements’ goals and become part of the institutions they previously challenged such as government and higher education. When the phrase “reproductive justice” was coined in 1994 it represented an exciting paradigm shift away from the divisive abortion debate. Their vision was to focus their advocacy efforts on how issues of racism, homophobia, poverty, disability, and citizenship differently affected the people’s opportunities to have children (e.g., for same-sex couples) and to parent their own children (e.g., for incarcerated people). Fast forward to 2016: talk show hosts use the phrase one major city health department has taken on an RJ focus and major universities have RJ research centers. Using archival data, observation, interviews, and a unique dataset of media hits, this project explores how movement ideas become part of major social institutions, namely media and education. FRAP position is open to all students regardless of major but students with interest in research on social change, gender, race and/or law are especially encouraged to apply. Up to three students will be selected to be a part of the research team.

Undergraduate Contribution

Depending upon interests and skill, undergraduate research assistants will assist with a range of research activities including:

• Assist with database maintenance as appropriate to the student’s skill level

• Coding documents

• Convert physical documents to electronic files

• Download information from internet

• Engage in library and on-line research

• Gather publicly available information about individuals and organizations

• Perform targeted internet searches using key phrases

• Read research articles to increase familiarity with the field

• Transcribe audio recordings

• Write analytic memos

Requirements

• personal access to a computer

• personal access the internet;

• facility with MS Word including how to cut and paste from the web;

• facility with MS Excel;

• willing to learn Zotero and other digital filing or bibliographical database system

. • participate in research team meetings

• ability to follow directions

• comfort or willingness to learn about subject matter (reproduction, politics)

• commit an average of three hours a week to the research (flexibility for exams , etc)

Zakiya Luna

Location:
3409 Social Science and Media Studies

Research Project

Professor Luna and faculty collaborators nationwide are currently collecting surveys from participants in the 2017 Women’s March on Washington and in cities across the country, including: Austin, Boston, Los Angeles, Oakland, Philadelphia, Portland, St. Louis, and Santa Fe. Our purpose is to understand what brings people to participate in a march of this scale, and at a critical historical juncture in our country’s political landscape. For the first phase, we have developed a survey about the motivations and experiences that have brought millions of people to the national march in DC and other major cities. For a second phase we will conduct interviews with some participants. Finally, we are conducting social media analysis. FRAP position is open to all undergraduates in the college of Letters and Science with at least a 3.4 GPA . Up to five students will be selected to be a part of the FRAP research team through which you will learn new skills, meet new people and help produce sociological research. Students will register for Soc 99/Soc 199 through Sociology department procedure.Students with interest in research on social change, gender, race and/or law are especially encouraged to apply. [More details on project development: Within a week of the election of Donald J Trump to the US presidency, individual women began to post online suggesting “another march.” The prior women’s march, March for Women’s Lives, was held in 2004 in Washington D.C. with an estimated one million attendees, many of whom were working to defeat the reelection of George W. Bush. The March drew the attention of many media outlets and social movement scholars. Contrary to the many claims that the women’s movement was dead, the march demonstrated to a doubting public the continued relevance of the US women’s movement (Staggenborg and Taylor 2005). Internal to the women’s movement, the March was also significant since it was the first time the four major feminist organizations had joined together to produce a major event and minority women took a major role in the leadership and grassroots organizing (Luna 2010). While that March was not successful in defeating Bush, it continues to be held up within movement settings as a sign of possibility although , practically, many people have short memories or did not even know there had been a prior march. When the calls for another march to occur in D.C. on inauguration weekend 2017 were posted online, there were thousands of people who expressed interest. This is an excellent opportunity to gather comparison data, as well as to study the political engagement of people on a national level around ideas of gender equality, as well as around other stated social justice politics. In the 12 years since the last march, much has changed within the women’s movement and the broader political sphere. This project will expand theoretical understanding of social movements and people’s participation in protest action. The different locations give us the opportunity to compare political engagement in varying cultural and political climates around the United States and beyond.]

Undergraduate Contribution

Depending upon interests and skill, undergraduate research assistants will assist with a range of research activities including:

• Assist with database maintenance as appropriate to the student’s skill level (e.g. inputting survey information)
• Download information from internet
• Engage in library and on-line research
• Attend and gather data at events such as one of the women’s marched on January 21, 2017
• Gather publicly available information about individuals and organizations
• Perform targeted internet searches using key phrases
• Read research articles to increase familiarity with the field
• Transcribe audio recordings
• Write brief analytic memos

Requirements

Requirements are:
• Attend training session for data collection in-person or virtually
• Attend one of the Women’s Marches in CA on January 21, 2017 to collect data from participants (some costs are covered)
• Attend debriefing meeting
• Personal access to a computer
• Personal access the internet;
• Facility with MS Word including how to cut and paste from the web;
• Facility with MS Excel;
• Willing to learn Zotero and other digital filing or bibliographical database system.
• Participate in periodic research team meetings
• Ability to follow directions
• Comfort or willingness to learn about subject matter (gender, politics)
• Commit an average of three hours a week to the research during the quarter (flexibility for exams , etc)

Psychological and Brain Sciences

Diane Mackie

Location:
Psych East 1823
805-893-2858

Research Project

Current research in our lab focuses on a) the emotions that people feel because they belong to a group, and how those emotions contribute to both positive and negative relations among groups; b) the extent to which people's opinions and attitudes reflect the influence of those around them; and c) the behavioral consequences of perceptions of power, and d) the prosocial outcomes of global identity ad connections, and e) identifying the process by which narratives (both written and visual) influence people's perceptions of themselves, the groups to which they belong, and of outgroup members. To learn more, please visit the website.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduate research assistants help in all aspects of the research experience, from serving as experimenters, library research, data coding and entry, and assistance in manuscript preparation.

Requirements

We prefer a three-quarter commitment and require a GPA above 3.0.  Good grades in PSY 5, 7 ,and 102 are always welcome but a passion for research is the best prerequisite. Research assistants must have blocks of time (at least an hour, preferably more) available between 8AM and 5PM at least 2 days of the week.

Brenda Major

Location:
Psychology East 38
893-7238

Research Project

Current research projects examine the impact of organizational diversity initiatives on minorities’ and majorities’ perceptions of fairness and acceptance within organizations, and the impact of perceived ethnic, gender, and weight-based discrimination on physiological stress responses, health behaviors, and interpersonal relationships.

Undergraduate Contribution

Undergraduates who work in my lab are involved with a variety of research tasks. They help to recruit, schedule, and run participants in laboratory and field experiments, enter self-report data into the computer and help to code physiological and nonverbal responses. They also assist with library research and a variety of support tasks (e.g., editing, copying).

Requirements

  • Grade point average of 3.3 or better.
  • Grade of B or better in Research Methods and Statistics
  • Ability to work well with others, show initiative, attention to detail
  • Skills with computer programming and/or audio/visual equipment desirable but not essential.

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