Hello ! my name is Marilena and Im a rising senior, majoring in Psychology. This summer I had the opportunity to live in Seattle and work in the Early Childhood Cognition Lab of the University of Washington as a research assistant. Throughout the summer, each research assistant was assigned to a project and had the opportunity to shadow, learn and work with qualified researchers and doctoral students .
As a research assistant I had many responsibilities. During the week, on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays, I would call and email people to recruit them to be part of our study. The rest of the days I was either coding facial expressions of infants that have already participated in our experiment or I was the primary experimenter. As a primary experimenter in a study, I had to meet the parents of the participants, give them the informed consents and the walk them through the procedure. Before the testing session, I had to make sure the cameras were charged and in the correct position, the toys were in the correct positions and the eye tracker was open and in the correct order. During the testing session I was walking the parents through the procedure, answering questions and running the tests. After the testing session was over, I was responsible for debriefing the parents, uploading the videos in the server and backing them up in a hard drive, as well as cleaning up the room from our equipments.
The ECC Lab was very welcoming from the very beginning and fostered an environment that allowed us to delve into research on our own and not be afraid to ask for help or make mistakes. In the spirit of that, each summer assistant had to come up with their own research question based on their assignment, had to explore it, get data, analyse them and finally present them in a poster presentation at the University, which is next week. This research experience has allowed me to truly see all aspects of research: the recruitment, the experimenting, the coding and analysing and even the rewarding moment of presenting your work. If I had not gotten the funding I wouldn’t have been able to accept the position and gotten this unique experience at the internship, since housing is very expensive in seattle. It meant so much to me that I was able to do this internship that gave so much, to make new friends from different areas in the U.S. with similar interests and struggles as me, and to live and explore Seattle and the West Coast.