Undergraduate Research Assistants

Undergraduate research opportunities and the PSY 400 course.
Each semester I need a number of undergraduate research assistants to assist with research in my lab. These undergraduate research positions are non-paid, voluntary positions in which students can earn course credit by enrolling in the Department’s PSYC 400 (Independent Research) course.
Description of the PSYC 400 Course
The PSY 400 course is an independent research course conducted under the supervision of a specific Psychology Department faculty member. Any member of the full-time faculty in the Department of Psychology can supervise students for the PSYC 400 course. Rather than meeting in a specific classroom at a particular time each week, students enrolled in PSY 400 instead work in a faculty member’s lab using a much more flexible schedule. For example, in addition to assisting with various research projects, students who work in my lab may be asked to attend a once-a-week informal lab meeting in which graduate and undergraduate research assistants (RAs) assemble for one hour each week to discuss the various research projects being conducted in my lab.
The PSY 400 course is designed for independent, motivated, and responsible students who wish to acquire research experience. To enroll in this course you must complete three simple requirements:
  1. You must have a 2.5 GPA and 28 credit hours at NMSU.
  2. You must have completed the PSY 310 Research Methods course.
  3. You need to select a faculty member with whom you wish to work.
  4. You must provide the faculty member with your Banner ID# so that they can create an instructor permission that allows you to register for their specific section of PSYC 400: Research Experience.

I invite you to contact me directly (via e-mail) if you want to learn more about research opportunities in the Emotion & Social Decision-Making Lab.
If you wish to work in my lab, I ask that you send me a short e-mail (ketelaar@nmsu.edu) expressing  your interest in joining my research team.

I will reply to your  e-mail to schedule a brief ZOOM meeting to learn more about your interests and to answer questions about what it is like to work in my Lab.

Typical Responsibilities of an undergraduate research assistant (RA):
Attend a one-hour lab meeting once per week.Work 5 to 8 hours per week (3 hours per credit hour) performing the following duties:

  1. Assist in the running of current studies
    • greet research participants
    • provide informed consent and experimental instructions to participants
    • debrief participants at the conclusion of the study
    • assign experimental credit to participants who have completed a study using Department Research Subject Pool Software
  2. Assist in the design of future studies, including
    • designing questionnaires and experimental procedures
    • pilot testing research studies
  3. Assist in data entry and data analysis, including
    • learning how to enter data into a spreadsheet
    • learning the basics of how to operate a statistical software package (e.g., SPSS)
    • for advanced students, learning how to conduct simple statistical analyses (descriptive and inferential statistics)

Benefits of working in my Lab
Research experience

  • Most students spend a significant portion of their time helping design and run studies (not just entering data).

Letter of Recommendation

  • I am happy to write letters of recommendation for students who work in my lab. These letters can be in support of your application to graduate school, professional school, scholarships, internships, or any other activity for which you would like me to act as a reference). If you would like to know more about the process of asking for a letter of recommendation click here.


  • Research should be an enjoyable, rewarding, and challenging experience.