The Behavior, Information, and Technology lab (BITLab) at Michigan State University is hiring up to 7 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 and willing learn to learn about new technologies. The BITLab works on a wide range of projects that encompass Computer Science, Human Computer Interaction, Data Science, and Social Science.
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.
The following lists some projects that an applicant could work on. To see more BITLab projects please see our website at: http://bitlab.cas.msu.edu
Security Behavior - What do people do to protect their computer and data from security threats? Is what they do effective? In this project we are tracking the different types of security behaviors people engage in on their own computers and determine how effective those behaviors actually are.
Online Communities - How do people decide whether they should participate in an online community like Facebook, Wikipedia, or Reddit? 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, and how these communities grow and change.
Algorithmic Curation - What is the role of filtering and recommendation algorithms in shaping what we read online from sources such as Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites? How does this affect what we contribute and communicate about online? In this project we are working to understand the social and technical forces that shape information access and use in an increasingly personalized online environment.
Crowdfunding - What makes crowdfunding websites, like Kickstarter.com, work so well? We are investigating how these websites function, including trying to understand how different rules on these sites affect whether people contribute, when donors are willing to contribute to a project, and whether the project succeeds.
Online Safety for the Ages - This project, conducted by the I-Safety Lab, is embarking on the creation of educational materials to be disseminated online to older adults to encourage them to adopt protective online behaviors. Please indicate your interest in this position by noting “I-Safety Lab” in your application.
Data Science positions
We are interested in hiring 2-3 undergraduate students who are currently enrolled in a 4 year university and are interested in data science. Applications should have taken at least two programming classes and at least one probability or statistics course (or have equivalent experience). Applicants must be willing to learn about new programming languages and technologies. Research is about pushing boundaries; we expect that the majority of students will need to learn at least one new skill to complete their project. Some examples of topics a student might get to learn are: Python, MySQL / database querying, data visualization, big data analysis, and text analysis.
We are interested in hiring up to 4 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, and building online community research systems.
I-Safety Lab positions
The I-Safety Lab is looking to fill up to 2 REU positions for this summer, in addition to the BITLab positions. Applicants must demonstrate interest and enthusiasm in research design and data collection. Strong research background and basic knowledge of statistics are strongly desired. Students must also exhibit basic knowledge of and interest in learning new skills related to videography, video editing software, web design, and data collection software (e.g., Qualtrics, MediaLab, DirectRT, eye-tracking, psychophysiological measures). Students may work on developing educational videos, designing research to test their effectiveness, and helping with disseminating the educational videos online. For more information, email email@example.com.
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 18, 2015 and continue through July 24, 2015 (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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We will begin reviewing applications on March 16th, 2015 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. Additionally, if there is a specific topic or specific types of work you are interested in, include that also.
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.