BITlab: Behavior Information Technology

404 Wilson Rd. Room 249
Communication Arts & Sciences
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

BITLab Summer Research

The Behavior, Information, and Technology lab (BITLab) at Michigan State University is hiring up to 2 full-time undergraduate students for a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program this summer. We are looking for motivated students interested in gaining research / internship experience in Human Computer Interaction.

As an interdisciplinary lab, we provide students with the opportunity to work on research projects with the potential to improve our understanding of how technology and people affect each other. The majority of our research projects are team-based and involve both technical computer science and social / behavioral components. Students working in our lab will gain experience working in an interdisciplinary team. Students will also have the opportunity to help guide the research being conducted and the flexibility to design and test their own solutions to problems.

This summer, REU students will participate in a research project about Online Communities: How do people decide whether they should participate in an online community like Reddit, Quora, WebMD, or Patients Like Me? What do they pay attention to? What information do they seek out? In this project, we are trying to understand decision-making about online participation. We hope to develop new ideas about how to build and grow new online communities.

Human-Computer Interaction positions

We are interested in hiring up to 2 undergraduates who are currently enrolled in a 4 year college/university and are excited about understanding how people think, behave, and interact with technology. Applicants should be interested doing research; previous research experience and/or coursework in research methods, experiment design, or statistics is strongly desired. An ideal candidate is interested in taking an idea and running with it. Research is about learning new things and pushing boundaries; we expect that the majority of students will need to learn at least one new skill to complete their project. Projects students work on may include designing and running experiments with human subjects, analyzing quantiative data, interviewing community members, and building online community research systems.

Technical skills (e.g. programming) are not required. However, familiarity with and interest in computers and technology is a plus. Students interested in developing technical skills may learn about databases and MySQL, analyzing text data, configuring content management systems (like Drupal), and basic statistics for research analysis.

More Details

All positions are full-time (40 hours per week) research positions in MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences. Positions will begin on May 22, 2017 and continue through July 28, 2017 (10 weeks). All positions will pay between $15-$20 per hour based on experience, which will total $6000-$8000 for the whole summer. All students will be assigned a faculty member as their advisor for the summer. Additionally, students will work with either a doctoral student or faculty mentor on a day-to-day basis while completing the project. Students will decide on a project in consultation with their mentor and advisor, and will carry out that project over the course of the summer. By the end of the summer they should produce a finished product (poster, paper, software, etc.) that they can be proud of, show to future employers or admissions committees, and present at an end-of-the-summer student research symposium. Periodically through the summer there will be additional activities to help train students in research, ethics, and the practicalities of doing research as a career (e.g. applying to graduate school).

To apply, please send a resume, an unofficial copy of your transcript, and a brief statement of interest to We will begin reviewing applications on March 12th, 2017 and will continue until the positions are filled. The statement of interest should include why you are interested in one of these positions, what you are hoping to do for a career, and how this position will help achieve those goals.

Due to the requirements of the funding, undergraduate student participants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions. An undergraduate student is a student who is enrolled in a degree program (part-time or full-time) leading to a baccalaureate or associate degree. Students who are transferring from one college or university to another and are enrolled at neither institution during the intervening summer may participate. High school graduates who have been accepted at an undergraduate institution but who have not yet started their undergraduate study are also eligible to participate. Students who have received their bachelor’s degrees and are no longer enrolled as undergraduates are generally not eligible to participate.

Summer Housing: Our REU interns that come to the BITLab from other universities typically arrange their own housing. In the past we have helped with this by facilitating contact with BITLab members who are looking to sublet their apartments for the summer, and that has worked well. You can also live in MSU on-campus housing during the 10 week internship. The rates in 2014 were approximately $30 per night with no meal contract or $50 per night with a meal contract. We can help arrange the on-campus housing, and pay the housing contract directly from the funding for the position; however, this would reduce the take-home pay for the position to whatever is left over after the housing contract is paid.