STUDENT RESOURCES

Undergraduate Resources

Resource Overview

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!!

Tips & Tricks

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.

Cogsci Faculty

Faculty Map

This map (click button to right) allows you to navigate cog sci faculty by area of interest. These faculty are not all officially affiliated with cognitive science (list of those here), but instead the map is much more comprehensive in an attempt to cover all of the faculty doing research/teaching classes that cognitive science majors might find of interest. Many of these faculty head research labs (though not all), so hopefully this map is a useful tool for those of you looking for research labs, but unsure how to find relevant ones. Though this map attempts to be comprehensive, omissions/errors have probably been made, so feel free to email cssa.berkeley@gmail.com with additions and/or edits.

Credit

This map is a slight variation on robschmuecker's drag and drop, collapsible tree built using d3.js. The idea for the map was inspired by Natalie Bilenko's much prettier visualization of neuroscience faculty at Berkeley. Finally, a lot of the decompositions of topics within the map are based on decompositions within departments or institutes at Berkeley.

Cogsci Honors Thesis

Honors Thesis

Cognitive science majors may culminate their study in cognitive science with an honors thesis. The honors thesis is a report on an independent research project. The cognitive science program honors thesis page holds all of the official information and details about the honors thesis, but lacks examples of what past cognitive science theses look like. Thus, the CSSA has started an honors thesis archive containing past cognitive science honors theses, in hope of making the notion of an honors thesis a bit more concrete and alleviating some of the initial burden in the writing process. If you are a graduating major and would like to include your honors thesis in the archive, please send an email to cssa.berkeley@gmail.com with a pdf of your thesis attached and the relevant information (see entries below) included in the body of the email.

Honors Thesis Tips

  • Your thesis advisor probably has helpful suggestions if you're struggling to find a second reader.
  • Start writing your thesis as early as possible and get as many different eyes as you can on drafts.
  • Oftentimes students do their honors project in a lab they have been working in since junior year.
  • It doesn't hurt to express interest in doing such a project early on in the lab to see if it is an option.
  • Check out other tips from past thesis writers below!

Opportunities/FAQ

Opportunities

This section highlights recent openings, events, and other opportunities! Be sure to check out our "research_careers_opportunities" Slack channel for more information on each of these listings.



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