Wu Lab, Northern Illinois University
*** Update as of August 4, 2017 ***
To prospective undergraduate applicants: If you have an interest in my lab, and envision wanting to apply for Fall 2017, please see the relevant link on the left side of this page and submit an application ASAP. I received more applications at the end of the Spring term than is typical, and had almost everyone stay on from last year, so we're building a fairly large group for Fall 2017. Thank you for your interest in our work.
Overview for Prospective Undergraduate Students
Since my first year on the NIU faculty, I have been training undergraduate students with respect to the conduct of research relevant to clinical psychology. Since 2006, I have had somewhere near 100 students come through the lab. Some have held majors in other departments; several have been post-baccalaureate students; one student came from Bradley University for a summer position; one was a high school student from St. Charles, IL; however, the majority have been undergraduate Psychology majors (either BA or BS) here at NIU. In today's climate, students who wish to pursue advanced training in clinical psychology (read: want to compete for positions in graduate school) pretty much have to have documented research experience and hands-on research training. Of course, all successful students need to be bright, hard-working people, but often this is not enough to compete successfully for graduate positions. More on that below. The take-home message is that Psychology majors should give serious consideration to pursuing research training while here at NIU and my lab offers certain opportunities.
The Independent Study (PSYC 485) research assistant (RA) experience in my lab generally allows for students of different research backgrounds, ranging from no experience to multiple years training in another lab. With respect to the work we do (see the Wu Lab Research link on the left panel of this screen), undergraduate RAs typically have multiple responsibilities:
* Attendance at weekly lab meetings (typically, Fridays from 12-1pm)
* Participation in proctoring data collection sessions
* Reading empirical articles
* Discussing issues relevant to clinical psychology and clinical psychology research
Some students look for increased involvement, including having a say in the design of new studies, data entry and analysis, and data presentation. For these students, it is likely that they will need to be part of summer meetings so that new studies can be ready to go in early Fall. I have supervised several Capstone Projects, many fewer departmental Honors Theses, and in 2013-2014, my first Research Rookie. These activities are time-intensive for all, but can and should be rewarding experiences. In 2011-2012, several students collaborated on a project that was presented at the Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day on April 24, 2012. This project was later presented as posters at the Annual Convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies in National Harbor, MD, in November 2012 and in Nashville, TN, in Fall 2013. When it is working well, this is how I envision the RAs functioning in my lab.
Lab meetings are critical to the experience in my research lab. They are the venue at which we touch base about weekly activities, but we also use that meeting to address professional issues, expose RAs to the graduate students (e.g., via presentations or practice talks), and consider graduate school / career issues. For example, in 2013, a meeting was dedicated to bringing back two lab alumni who now work in applied settings with terminal bachelors degrees. Most years, we dedicate one or more meetings to graduate school application issues, such as holding a graduate panel discussion involving the lab's current graduate students, working on CVs, drafting personal statements, and discussing interview skills. The importance and utility of this meeting is why it is required.