Communication, Executive Function and Inner Speech in Autism Spectrum Disorder [Research Assistant]

Professor Greg Wallace
Department: Speech and Hearing Sciences
The Project
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) share significant deficits in the ability to successfully navigate the social world and engage in effective social interaction. From a Vygotskian perspective, these social impairments may hinder development of self-regulatory executive function (EF) skills. Indeed, individuals with ASD demonstrate impaired EF, as indicated by difficulty with problem solving tasks like the Tower of London. It may be that impaired inner speech or self-talk mediates the relationship between broader social and EF difficulties in ASD. The current study will examine this relationship first in a sample of typically developing adults by having them complete assessments of EF, pragmatic (i.e., social) vs. structural language, and inner speech. Subsequent studies will then assess this association in the context of individuals with ASD.
Research Assistant Tasks
The research assistant will complete various tasks in the context of this study, ranging from recruiting subjects, performing assessments with subjects, entering data, and analyzing data.
Time Commitment: 4-6 hours per week
Additional Instructions for ApplyingInterested students should send an up-to-date CV/resume to Dr. Wallace.

The Political Consequences of Americanization [Research Assistant]

Professor Harvey Feigenbaum
Department: Political Science
The Project
I am interested in the consequences of America’s dominance of popular culture markets, especially film and television. My hypothesis is that people around the world are becoming more familiar with American culture than their own and that this affects the way they think about politics. People are increasingly likely to think in American political categories (eg: liberal or conservative) rather than the much richer set of options found outside the US (monarchist, nationalist, centrist, socialist, social-democratic, green etc).
Research Assistant Tasks
I would like a student to research different empirical examples of the influence of American culture abroad (parties converging toward American style ideologies, school systems adopting American style education, movies becoming more action-oriented, etc. Some exploration of large N data such as Eurobarometer surveys of political values in the EU.
Time Commitment: 1-3 hours per week
Additional Application InstructionsStudents should let me know if they have had courses in the social sciences, if they have statistical skills, and if they can read any foreign languages. Study abroad is also a bonus.

Early Christianity in its Pagan Environment [Research Assistant]

Professor Paul Duff
Department: Religion
The Project
I am currently working on a book that looks at first-century Christianity against the background of Greco-Roman paganism. I am particularly interested in exploring the costs and benefits of joining the Christian movement. What would a pagan gain by joining? What would he/she have to give up? I am investigating these questions in a variety of contexts, including religious, urban social, and familial contexts (i. e., assuming that not all family members converted).
Research Assistant Tasks
I have drafted of the first three chapters. I would like to have an assistant read, edit, make suggestions about the material in these chapters. For the remaining (as yet, unwritten) chapters, I would ask a student to do some literature review to make sure that I am working with the most up-to-date scholarship.
Time Commitment: 1-3 hours per week
When ApplyingPlease let me know about your interest in the academic study of Religion. Have you taken any religion courses at GW or another university? .

Forensic Photography Assistant [Research Assistant]

Professor Edward Robinson
Department: Forensic Science
The Project
Our text for our ‘Photography in the Forensic Sciences’ course will be updated during the next year for its 3rd Edition. Since it is a book on photography, it naturally has many images showing examples of the photography done at crime scenes: 600 of them! I’m hoping to have most of them updated with new images for the 3rd Edition.
The Research Assistant will strive to freshen the existing images, or improve on them.
Also essential to this project will be the need to research current case law citations to provide the reader with common court challenges to the admission of digital images into court as evidence. This will be done in the Law Library.
Applicants must already be experienced with 35mm SLR cameras, various lenses and external flash units.
Research Assistant Tasks
1) Research case law citations.
2) Update the images currently in the textbook, or at least make a very large dent in them. The student will, of course, receive credit for every image selected to be used in the 3rd Edition.
3. Unofficially proofread new chapters as they are written, to get an idea if the ‘normal reader’ can understand the photographic theories and concepts easily.
Time Commitment: 7-9 hours per week
Further Application InstructionsMost important is any photography experience the student already possesses. High school yearbook photos? Photography courses already completed? Part-time jobs related to photography?

Civil-Military Relations Across the Globe Since 1945 [Research Assistant]

Professor Caitlin Talmadge
Department: Political Science
The Project
My project examines civil-military relations in all states that have fought wars since 1945. Civil-military relations refer to the relationships between political leaders (such as presidents, prime ministers, or dictators) and military officers (the people who run the army, navy, and air force) in a given regime. I want to understand these relationships because I think that they may affect states’ decisions about which wars to enter, military strategy in those wars, and the outcome of wars. For example, states that have conflicting relationships between political leaders and military officers might not develop military strategies that are as sound, and we might be able to figure this out by studying a large group of such states systematically.

My project involves research on all the states that have fought major wars since 1945. The research task is to answer a series of coding questions about each state. For example, did the current regime come to power through a coup? How are officers selected to join the military? How often do civilian leaders and military officers consult with one another to make important decisions? And so on.

Ultimately the goal is to aggregate data on all of the states about whom we have answers to these questions, in order to conduct a large analysis about the effects of different civil-military patterns on states’ conflict behavior. I expect this effort to result in a published article in a major journal.
Research Assistant Tasks
Your job would be to pick a particular country and year from the dataset, and answer the following questions:

1. Did the current regime come to power in a military coup?
2. Has the country ever experienced a military coup?
3. Is the country’s top leader a former military officer?
4. Is the military officer corps largely closed to those who do not share the leader’s ethnic or sectarian background?
5. Are there strict ideological requirements for entry into the senior officer corps?
6. Is party membership required for entry into the senior officer corps?
7. Does military training involve extensive political education or ideological indoctrination?
8. Has the military been used to repress internal dissent in the last five years?
9. Has the military been used to govern the country in the last five years?
10. Is there a paramilitary organization separate from the regular military, used to provide regime or leader security?
11. Is there an internal intelligence apparatus dedicated to watching the regular military?
12. Has a purge of the officer corps occurred in the last five years?
13. Is there an institutionalized forum through which civilian leaders and military officers regularly exchange information?

The answers to these questions can usually be found in books in the library or interviews with subject matter experts. You would enter the answers on a coding sheet, complete with citations. I would work closely with you on a weekly basis (if not more often) to help you understand the questions and troubleshoot any research issues. I have been running the project for over two years, so it is well organized, and I am familiar with how to help my RAs be successful.

With the help of other research assistants, I have already completed work on many of the states in my dataset. However, I still need research on South Korea, Taiwan, Hungary, Spain, Morocco, Thailand, Laos, Turkey, Cyprus, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan. You would likely be able to choose among these states to work on and would probably be able to cover several over the course of the semester.
Time Commitment: Varies
Additional Instructions for ApplyingTo apply, please send a CV or resume, a transcript, and a short cover letter explaining your interest in and qualifications for the position. I am particularly interested in any academic or professional background you have in international relations, comparative politics, or security/military issues. Please also tell me about any research or writing experience you have.

GIS in Economic Development [Research Assistant]

Estimating the Effects of Road Investments on Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

Professor Remi Jedwab
The Project: In this project, my co-author (Adam Storeygard, from Tufts and LSE) and I plan to estimate the economic effects of road investments on economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Developing countries have massively invested in railroads and roads over the past century, and transportation remains the single largest item in the investment budget of these countries and most development aid agencies. For example, the World Bank spends 20% of its investment budget on roads. Then, thanks to recent commodity booms, Africa is massively re-investing in railroads and roads. Several countries have initiated various giant infrastructure projects, such as the Tanzania-Gabon railway ($33 billion), the Mombasa-Kampala-Kigali railway ($14 billion), the Trans-Kalahari railway ($9 billion), the Abidjan-Lagos motorway ($8 billion) and the Ethio-Djibouti railway ($ 3billion) among others.
Transportation infrastructure investments are considered key to promoting economic growth. But should we not expect the economic returns to transportation investments to depend on the context in which they take place? Are there contexts where these investments may have no effects? Despite an extensive public policy literature on the topic, we still lack strong quantitative academic evidence on the “true” economic effects of such investments.
In this paper, we will study the effects of localized road investments on local economic growth using econometric regressions for 39 Sub-Saharan African countries from 1960 to 2010. For example, if a bituminized road is built in a poor remote region, do we observe positive economic effects of that road a few years later?
To conduct our analysis, we must be able to observe the road investments that took place in the 39 African countries over time. One solution is to georeference information on road infrastructure, coded by quality or status, from Michelin maps covering nearly all of Sub-Saharan Africa, approximately every two years, between 1960, when there were very few bituminized roads in the region, and 2010. Michelin is a tire manufacturer that is also notable for its roadmaps that have been published on a regular for most countries in the world. Thanks to the maps, we will be able to track the evolution of road networks, and thus road investments in Africa over time.
Research Assistant Tasks: The research assistant would help us georeference the roadmaps. Georeferencing a map means that the student will have to use a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software to recreate the roadmaps in a GIS file that we will then be able to use for our research. A GIS file is like an excel sheet, but “in space”. GIS are used to produce simple maps that can be used for various purposes.
It is very easy to use the GIS software, and I would train the student myself. Knowing how to use GIS is a very useful skill if you plan to work for an international organization (IO), as IOs often need maps for their reports.
Here is an example of what can be done for the U.S.:
Time Commitment: 7-9 hours per week
Credit Hour Option: 3
Application Instructions: Send me your CV, and tell me how many hours you can work every week (and for how many weeks). I said 7-9 hours per week, but I could be flexible if you would need fewer credits for your work.
Contact Email:

Analyze for the Forensic Science Department [Research Assistant]

Researching Our Biological Clocks Through Drug Analysis
Professor Mehdi Moini
The Project: The research project is to investigate the fundamental factors that cause aging of artifact and affect change and degradation of biological specimens at the molecular level using separation techniques such as GC, HPLC, and capillary electrophoresis in conjunction with mass spectrometry. The fundamental factors that will be studied include: amino acid racemization, protein deamidation, and truncation. Our goal is to develop rapid and reliable methods for finding deterioration markers, and for dating of proteinaceous specimens that consume minimal amount of specimens. 
Additionally, the second project involves development of new methods for detection of synthetic drugs and their positional and optical isomers.
Research Assistant Tasks: Currently there are 4 graduate students working on these projects. The Research Assistant tasks are to work alongside these graduate students as well as to work on their individual research projects related to the above projects. Students with chemistry, biochemistry, biology, anthropology, geology, are encouraged to apply. Priority will be given to students who will stay with the research project for at least two semesters. Experience with analytical chemistry and instrumentation is a plus.
Time Commitment: 10 or more hours per week
Credit Hour Options: 3
Application Requirements: Email a resume, list of courses taken so far and taking this semester, GPA, and availability during the week.
Contact Email:

Match-Making at the US Department of State [Research Assistant]

Technology in Internal Markets; assigning diplomats to foreign embassies in the U.S. State Department
Professor Korok Ray
The Project: Organizations of all kinds such as government, corporations, and non-profits need to assign workers to jobs. Traditionally this has been done manually, however advances in technology and economic research are opening the door to using more sophisticated methods to match employees to employers within organizations, in internal labor markets.
This research seeks to explore how to best match U.S. diplomats to embassies around the world through the U.S. State Department. The government matches hundreds of Foreign Service officers to embassies every year and they seek better and more precise ways to do this. The project has both technical/mathematical as well as relationship/rhetorical/marketing.
Research Assistant Tasks: I seek a research assistant to help me implement this program. I have already designed the mathematical algorithm and the basic technology to help with the assignment. However, I require a bright undergraduate with a general background in economics, mathematics, statistics, computer science or business. The best applicant will have a strong curiosity of how to apply cutting edge economic research to solve the latest problems in the real world. This project is as concrete as it gets!
Time Commitment: 7-9 hours per week
Contact Email:

Ivy City Project [PAID Research Assistantship]

Professors Royce Francis and Amanda Northcross
The Project: Student will assist with two (NE Washington DC, SW California near Mexico border) on-going community based ambient air quality studies utilizing low cost, easy to use air pollution monitors. The goal of these studies is to develop monitoring networks that are responsive to the local community’s air quality concerns while providing accurate and scientifically rigorous data to state and federal agencies. The student will be responsible for preparing field sample filters, equipment preliminary testing and assisting with preliminary data analysis. Also students may work with local DC community members to assist with monitor installment and technical support. There is the opportunity for advanced data analysis, thesis papers, and dissemination of results to local community members as skills and interest permit.
Qualifications: Due to the community based nature of this research project, the student must be comfortable working with people from diverse economic and ethnic backgrounds. The local research site is located in Northeast DC, and the student may be asked to travel to the site for equipment installations with local collaborators from nearby Universities.

  • Math and Chemistry classes
  • Detail oriented
  • Independent worker
  • Easy to work with
  • Humble
  • Experience working in a community setting
  • Likes to solve challenging problems
  • Preferred but not required:
  • GPS experience
  • Computer programming experience
  • Sophomore or Junior standing
  • Laboratory experience
  • Science and engineering majors
  • Basic understanding of air quality regulations and measurement techniques

Time commitment: 10-15 hours per week. Must be able to work at least 6 hours in a day once per week.
Pay: $10/hour.
To apply: Apply through the GWork system, look for reference number 791979.
Research assistantship opportunities are filled on a rolling basis. Please apply promptly for your application to be considered.

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