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Student Research

Student Research Programs

Mills College at Northeastern offers a range of undergraduate student research programs that provide unique experiential learning opportunities for students in collaboration with faculty mentors. These experiences prepare students for advanced study in their field and critical professional skills that can be applied to any future career path.

Cognition Lab

Dr. Christie Chung directs the Cognition Laboratory at Mills College at Northeastern. Dr. Chung and her research assistants design behavioral experiments to examine the underlying cognitive mechanisms that constitute age-related changes in memory. Current research studies examine the effects of age, culture, weight consciousness, and circadian arousal on emotional and flash bulb memory.  

Jill Barrett Undergraduate Research Program in Biology


The mission of the Jill Barrett Undergraduate Research Program in Biology at Mills College at Northeastern is to encourage professional advancement of students in the biological sciences by providing research experiences to undergraduate students.

Mentored research opportunities

The research experience and professional development of students is fostered through close mentorship by faculty supervisors, interactions with fellow Barrett participants past and present, and interactions with other collaborators. Barrett students engage in research projects that aim to provide insights into unanswered questions in biology. In the process, participants gain technical skills, practice in the logic and creativity of science, and experience analyzing and presenting data.

Financial support for Barrett Scholars

The Jill Barrett Undergraduate Research Program in Biology provides financial support for students participating full time in an 8-week-long summer research project under the tutelage of a biology faculty member. Students accepting a Barrett Scholar position are expected to prepare for their work during the spring semester prior to their Barrett summer to prepare for their summer research project. For detailed information on applying to the Jill Barrett Undergraduate Research Program in Biology and available faculty mentors, visit our application information page.


Scholars in the program will gain both depth and breadth in the field of biology through meetings in which Barrett students present and discuss their research findings (at various stages of completion) with faculty and peers. Additional outcomes may also include continued collaborations with faculty members and students in the Northeastern network as well as the production of scholarly works (such as presentations at conferences and publications in scientific journals).

Barrett Scholars are honored each fall at our Annual Jill Barrett Undergraduate Program in Biology Symposium. The purpose of this event is for students to share their research findings with the Northeastern community and beyond through oral and poster presentations.

Barrett program history

The Jill Barrett Undergraduate Research Program in Biology was initiated in 1998, funded by the generosity of donors Richard and Elaine Barrett in honor of their daughter Jill, who graduated from Mills College as a biology major in 1993. She wrote her senior thesis on “The Evolution of Optimal Foraging Strategy in Araneophagic Spiders.” (Araneophagic means “eating spiders;” these are cannibalistic spiders.) She also did fieldwork at the Marine Mammal Center in Marin County. After Jill graduated, she became an active conservation biologist, working to eliminate threats to endangered sea turtles, which remain at risk of extinction. Tragically, Jill lost her life in an accident in Greece while coming home from early morning observation of sea turtles. Her family established the Jill Barrett Undergraduate Research Program in Biology in her memory. We are grateful for their support of this program, and all participants are mindful of the contributions that Jill made and undoubtedly would have continued to make had her life not ended so prematurely.

Language Development Lab

Dr. Priya Shimpi Driscoll directs the Mills College Language Development Lab in the Mills College School of Education. The research focus is on the social and linguistic influences contributing to children’s communicative development from approximately six months through six years of age. The Language Development Lab studies examine:

  • How infants, toddlers, and young children develop one or multiple languages
  • How toddlers learn from direct instruction and from overhearing/observing others
  • How young children develop a sense of self
  • How children gain information from different sources: adults, children, siblings, video, and other media
  • How differences in children’s experience (e.g., having a sibling) relate to differences in learning and attention
  • How picture book reading helps children use complex sentences

Current research focuses on children’s language learning from a variety of input sources, including from parents, siblings, from overhearing others’ conversations, and from observing televised events. The goal of this work is to understand how children’s early experiences relate to language learning.

Social Psychology Lab

Dr. Dean Morier directs the Social Psychology Lab at Mills College at Northeastern. He and his research assistants conduct experiments and other types of investigations on social psychology and personality. Current investigations are examining topics in positive psychology and LGBTQ+ issues, aging attitudes and anxiety, religion and physical activity, intergroup relations and prejudice, and attributions about consumer purchases. The laboratory is focused on theoretical issues but also conducts applied research and follows the dictum of Kurt Lewin that “there is nothing so practical as a good theory.”

If you are interested in applying to be a research assistant, please complete the Social Psychology Lab Research Assistant Application (PDF).

Learn about Northeastern University’s Human Subjects Research Protection programs that support the highest ethical standards for research participants.

Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program

In addition to the organized research programs we offer, undergraduate students have the opportunity to seek funding for independent projects. The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) offers mini-grants to students to help fund unique research or creative projects. Students may apply for one award per academic year and can earn a maximum of two awards as a Mills College at Northeastern student. The maximum amount for each grant is $500.00.

View a sample project description (PDF) and apply online

Dr. Chung works with students and cognitive research tools

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