The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Research Opportunities

Photo of campus in fall

Change the world through research. 

Collaborate with faculty. Learn about public policy through hands on research. Research opportunities will be posted here as they become available.

Alternatively, if you have your own idea for an independent study, ask your advisor for support in connecting with a sponsoring faculty member.

Current Research Opportunities:

Energy Transformation Response Lab

Fall 2024 | 1 credit | 3 hours/week

Position Description: Professor Katz is seeking an Undergraduate Research Assistant to join my new Energy Transition Response Lab. The ideal candidate will have an interest in renewable energy, social science, and a passion for understanding public perceptions and responses to the energy transition. Responsibilities: 1. Assist in the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data related to public perceptions and responses to renewable energy. 2. Support literature reviews, including reading, summarizing, and organizing academic articles. 3. Help prepare and present research findings in various formats: written reports, presentations, and infographics. 4. Engage in regular lab meetings, contribute to discussions, and collaborate effectively with other team members. 5. Provide administrative support when needed, such as organizing meetings, maintaining databases, or communicating with collaborators. Qualifications: 1. Currently enrolled in an undergraduate program, preferably in social sciences, environmental studies, or a related field. 2. Demonstrated interest in renewable energy and environmental sustainability. 3. Basic understanding of research methods and data analysis; prior experience is a plus but not necessary. 4. Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, particularly Excel and Word (or similar Google products like Docs and Sheets). 5. Excellent written and oral communication skills. 6. Strong organizational skills, attention to detail, and ability to manage multiple tasks. 7. Self-motivated and able to work independently with minimal supervision. Additional Information: This is an excellent opportunity for students interested in pursuing graduate studies in social sciences, energy policy, environmental studies, or related fields. Please note that while no prior research experience is required, a willingness to learn and a keen interest in our research areas are crucial. Training will be provided for all lab-related tasks. Apply: Interested students should send a cover letter (two pages or fewer), along with their resume, to Professor Katz at juniperkatz@umass.edu

YouTube/TikTok Qualitative Research

Fall 2024 | 2 credits | 6 hours/week

Position Description: Researchers needed to hand-code videos from popular video platforms. Students will work with a professor and professional researcher to build a codebook, to watch and code videos, to develop hypotheses about how videos in different languages reflect different usage patterns. There are some opportunities for English speakers, but we particularly need native speakers of Russian, Portuguese, Spanish and languages of South Asia. What You Will Learn: Understanding how quantitative and qualitative methods work together in exploring novel data sets. Develop and test hypotheses about video content. Skills in developing qualitative research codebooks. Prerequisites: None. How to Apply: Please send your resume and letter, particularly specifying language and cultural knowledge to Professor Ethan Zuckerman (ethanz@cs.umass.edu). 

Human Rights and Refugees in the Middle East or Islamophia and Anti-Semitism Research

Fall 2024 | 2 credits | 6 hours/week | option to renew

Position Description: Research on project on either human rights and refugees in Middle East or Islamophobia and anti-Semitism globally. What You Will Learn: Student will be involved in academic research and collaboration, with likely exposure to other senior scholars and possible policymakers. Prerequisites: Interest in politics and policy in the Middle East, some Arabic and/or Hebrew fluency and/or knowledge of international and/or Middle Eastern politics preferred, such as MES/SPP 151. How to Apply: Please send a resume, unofficial transcript (which you can get in SPIRE) and short letter of interest to Professor Mednicoff (mednic@umass.edu).

Research on Philanthropic Foundations & How They Address Social Justice 

Fall 2024 & Spring 2025 | 2 credits (negotiable) | 6 hours/week for both semesters

Position Description: Are you curious about how philanthropic foundations address social justice in their grantmaking? This fall, join my team to explore the grantmaking decisions of foundations, with a special focus on social justice initiatives and their impact on marginalized communities. As an Undergraduate Research Assistant, you'll play a crucial role in this multi-method study, engaging in tasks such as developing a literature database, analyzing data, and assisting with interview preparations. This opportunity allows you to enhance your research skills through practical experience and methodological training and deepens your understanding of the intersection between philanthropy and social justice. Your involvement is crucial to our goal of examining and potentially improving the ways in which foundation grantmaking can act as a catalyst for positive change. I will provide continuous support and guidance, including pairing you with another URA for peer support and weekly 20-minute check-ins with me to review progress, address challenges, and offer feedback. What You Will Learn: As a nonprofit scholar specializing in philanthropy and collective action, I emphasize a reflective, experiential learning approach in my mentoring, fostering empowerment for change. I am eager to welcome undergraduate students into my research team and offer tailored guidance and support for their academic growth. The project will provide the URAs with hands-on experience in quantitative and qualitative research. They will also gain a deeper insight into social justice issues within the realm of philanthropy, current grantmaking practices, social justice initiatives in grantmaking, and the impact of funding on marginalized communities. URA will also help in documenting and organizing research findings and reports. The project will provide the URAs with hands-on experience in quantitative and qualitative research. They will also gain a deeper insight into social justice issues within the realm of philanthropy, current grantmaking practices, social justice initiatives in grantmaking, and the impact of funding on marginalized communities. URA will also help in documenting and organizing research findings and reports. Prerequisites: Must be a rising junior or senior. How to Apply: Please send me (Professor Wu - vivianachius@umass.edu) your resume, unofficial transcript and cover letter if you are interested in joining my team to work on this important research. 

Before Applying...

Have you had your resume and cover letter reviewed by SBS Pathways? During the semester, there are walk-in hours with Peer Advisors in Thompson 128 (M, T, W 10-4 and Th, F 10 - 2) to get you started.