This page houses a bunch of resources and information about getting involved in undegraduate cognitive science research at UC Berkeley collected by the CSSA. The UC Berkeley cog sci program page here contains further details including information about the cognitive science honors thesis. Here are some of the resources the CSSA has to offer:

If you ever have any questions about research feel free to come talk to us at meetings or office hours! The CSSA also puts on several research-related events including Undergraduate Research Night.

The CSSA also holds a poster session at its annual conference where undergraduates can both submit abstracts in order to present their own research or can attend and see the work of other undergraduates and graduate students.

Pictures from the poster session at the 2015 CCSC

Tips & Tricks for Undergraduate Research

  • Contacting Labs

    • There is no golden option for contacting labs. Common routes include email, visiting office hours, applying through URAP, applying through lab website, and more.
    • Email is probably the easiest method to use, but it is very common not to receive a response.
    • Office hours allow you to create a personal connection and really demonstrate interest.
    • Be sure to prepare before visiting office hours. Read some recent publications and write down questions to ask. You don't need to know everything, you just need to show that you're interested!
    • URAP (see resources) makes the application process much more structured, but also more competitive since the positions are publicly advertised.
    • Contacting graduate students directly can often be more effective than going to the professors. In general, graduate students have more time and are more invested in RA's since they are typically the ones directly working with them.
    • Some labs have instructions on how to apply on their website. These are usually there for a reason!
    • Again there is no "right" way to get a RA position. Be persistent and engaged!
  • Improving Your Chances

    • Demonstrate interest! Ask questions, have conversations with people in the lab, and make sure you are truly interested. They want to make sure that you will be engaged in the lab and so you want to make sure you convey that you are truly excited about the research.
    • Programming experience can really set you apart. If you have any programming experience, be sure to market it! Programming is used for all aspects of the research process and is a highly desirable trait for RA's. In many more technical labs, it may be a necessary prerequisite.
    • Prior research experience is also very marketable. It is definitely possible to get a position without prior experience, but be sure to highlight it if you have it.
    • Relevant coursework is useful. If you want to work in a memory lab, then it can't hurt to take that professor's memory course!
    • Statistics/Experimental Design courses are really useful, especially for data analysis. This background can allow you to get more involved beyond data collection.
  • General Tips

    • RA positions are generally 8-15 hrs/week. Make sure that you are truly interested in the research as this is a significant time commitment!
    • Working in multiple labs throughout your undergraduate career can expose you to different research topics and styles and help you better determine which type of research is best for you.
    • Working in a lab for an extended period of time can help you progress farther than otherwise possible and in some cases can lead to authorship.
    • Summer research programs can also be useful as they allow you to fully immerse yourself in the research process. These programs can give you a better idea of what doing research full time is like.

Undergraduate Research Resources

  • Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program
    • The Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP) is Berkeley's main interface for connecting undergraduates to RA positions in labs. Certain professors will list open projects in their labs on the program website and students can apply for the position through the website.

  • Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship
    • The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) funds undergraduate students to do research for the summer in preparation for an honors thesis. Applications are due in late February or early March depending on your type of project.

  • Haas Scholars Program
    • A similar program to SURF that provides funding for selected seniors to do research over the summer and over their senior year in preparation for a honors thesis. Applications are due late February.

  • Honors Thesis
    • This is a link to the cognitive science major page on the honors thesis. The honors thesis is usually completed in one or two semesters during your senior year.

  • Berkeley Undergraduate Research Page
    • Berkeley's official page for everything undergraduate research. It has all the upcoming events including program deadlines and helpful workshops. They have a listserv you can subscribe to as well as a search interface to look through research opportunities.

  • Python for Cog Sci Research
    • Resources for python programming for cognitive science research created by Jessica Hamrick, a graduate student in Tom Griffith's lab. The above links to a static view of the material. You can download the interactive ipython notebook file here

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