Interested in joining the SPeCiaL lab?

We are always looking for smart, creative, and hard-working students to volunteer as Research Assistants in the lab. If interested, please complete this form and email the SPeCiaL Lab Manager at the address on the Contact page.

If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies with Dr. Rule, please email him directly with information about your research interests, background, and experiences.

A little bit about the lab…

Students in our lab are here to begin their education in how to become a professional researcher and to make a meaningful contribution to understanding how and why people do and think some of the wild things that they do. We seek to achieve this by providing research assistants with structure that is both equitable and efficient. This structure involves a predictable schedule for your work in the lab, a weekly lab book to help you track and remember your progress, and weekly lab meetings to share findings and build community.

Schedule: The Lab Manager will therefore ask you for a wide range of flexibility to find a schedule that works for you and for the other students in the lab (not everyone can be there at the same time!). Students are typically expected to spend 8 hours per week in the lab, spread across multiple days. Having a set schedule not only saves time and energy otherwise spent planning your week, it also guards against work creeping into your other commitments (you do your lab work while you’re in the lab—no homework expected). It also allows you to bond and learn from the other students in your cohort and to get exposure to work happening in teams all across the lab.

Tasks and Benefits: Your scheduled lab time will be split between running participants and assisting senior lab members with their research. You will learn how to run all of the lab’s active in-person studies with guidance from the Lab Manager and your fellow research assistants. You will typically work with one of the lab’s graduate students or postdoctoral fellows to contribute to different aspects of the lab’s ongoing projects. Most students in the lab will learn to prepare stimuli and experimental materials for various studies, and you may also assist with other parts of the research process such as literature reviews, or preparing and analyzing data. Through this work, you will gain firsthand experience with the different stages of the research process; learn about how psychological studies are designed, executed, and analyzed; and open avenues to professional development opportunities for highly driven students (such as presentations at academic conferences and publishing reports in peer-reviewed journals).

Lab book: Scientists have kept lab journals or notebooks for decades. They’re vital to tracking one’s experiments and findings, but also serve a practical purpose of documenting what you’ve accomplished after you’ve left the lab. This record helps you when applying for a job or grad school (maybe years later) by reminding you of everything you learned and did. It also helps people writing you recommendation letters if you can describe to them what you achieved during your time working in the lab.

Lab meetings: Our lab meetings are student-focused and mostly serve to provide a forum for you to practice talking about the work that you’re doing. Communication is a vital skill that cuts across all aspects of life. Whether you’re going to graduate school, working for a financial firm, or hoping to have long-term relationships with people, having the ability to clearly convey your thoughts and feelings to others through speaking and writing is one of the best life investments that you can make. Our lab prides itself on the excellence of our students’ communication skills, largely honed in lab meetings. A side benefit is that you get to hear about the work that others are doing in the lab and form professional networks that you will carry with you for the rest of your life!

Benefits of working in our lab:
  • Exposure to all stages of the research process
  • A cohort of other intelligent, creative, and high-achieving people
  • Structure to give a solid foundation for you to learn
  • Emphasis on skill-building (e.g., learning Qualtrics, Photoshop, R, advanced Excel)
  • Opportunity to generate ideas (social psychology comes from the world around us– what’s grabbing your attention?)
  • Working as a team (together everyone achieves more – it’s true!)
  • Becoming an excellent communicator (and mastering Powerpoint)
  • Preparing you for the future, grad school, a profession, or just being a great citizen

What you need to get these:
  • Consistency
  • Reliability
  • Dedication
  • Excitement!