Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Undergraduate students have the opportunity to participate in labs and/or on faculty-led research projects as volunteers, for course credit, and in some cases, for part-time employment. Research participation provides great experiences for anyone thinking of applying to graduate school, and employers also value the skills students gain from hands-on research experience.

Human Development faculty are involved in a wide range of research topics on children, adolescents, and adults, and their families, and communities. Our faculty examine the biological, psychological, and contextual factors related to development across the lifespan, from infancy through late adulthood. These interdisciplinary projects provide students with opportunities to actively participate in cutting-edge research on topics with implications for programs and policies aimed at promoting healthy social-emotional and physical development.


Rich Giles, Human Development academic advisor, richard.giles@wsu.edu, or specific research lab leadership to find out how to get involved.

Here’s what students and graduates are saying about research at WSU…

“Being involved in undergraduate research has been one of the most significant and impactful experiences I have had as a student in the Human Development Department at WSU. Having the opportunity to engage in the research process through a number of different facets, from working on existing studies, to developing my own independent projects, to presenting at conferences, has been life changing, and ultimately one of the most holistic and valuable learning experiences to date. I have made meaningful and lasting connections with HD faculty and other undergraduate researchers as we work together toward a common goal – making a difference in the greater world around us. The vast number of opportunities that research creates is invaluable, and I would absolutely encourage anyone to take advantage of those opportunities.

Isabella Santiago, Human Development & Psychology majors, December 2024 Expected Graduation

“I never saw myself working in research, but when the opportunity arose to work with the IMPACT Lab, I took it. That decision directly led to gaining hands-on experience with the research process and building professional connections with faculty on the team. Specifically, I have had the pleasure of working alongside Dr. Duckworth in the development of a scoping review. Dr. Duckworth’s profound passion for her work and students serves as a remarkable inspiration, prompting me to strive for an equivalent level of passion within my own professional endeavors. I strongly encourage undergraduate students to explore research opportunities at WSU, as it offers invaluable skills and resources that extend far beyond the scope of research itself. My experience working with the IMPACT Lab has been immensely rewarding. In less than a year, I have gained invaluable insights and proficiency that have better prepared me for collaborating within professional teams and pursuing advanced studies in graduate programs.”

Hannah McCready, Human Development & Psychology majors, Spring 2025 Expected Graduation

“It was an incredible experience to be involved in research as an undergraduate. I am very grateful for Dr. Perone’s mentorship and the learning opportunities that my work in the Lab for the Developing Mind provided. My experience allowed me to connect concepts that I learned about in my HD classes to practice, and I gained an appreciation of the important role that research plays in human services. I absolutely loved collaborating with fellow lab members to brainstorm ideas, create plans, and discuss current research in the field. Dr. Perone’s guidance additionally led me to present research processes and findings at conferences – an amazing learning opportunity that helped me to strengthen my professional and leadership skills. I feel strongly that my experiences set me up for success in graduate school and my future career in human services, and I believe that all HD undergraduates should participate in research!”

Claire McMeen, 2023 Human Development graduate, currently pursuing a Master of Social Work at Eastern Washington University

“Participating in research at WSU changed the trajectory of my career and has provided me with valuable skills that will serve me in a range of areas in the future. I became interested in child development after taking a course with Dr. Sammy Perone. I joined his lab at the end of the semester and continued working under his mentorship throughout the next 2.5 years of my bachelor’s degree. Now, I am a graduate student in his lab! The skills I learned as an undergraduate researcher have been invaluable and made me a strong candidate for graduate school. They provided a solid foundation, which I have been able to build upon throughout my time in the graduate program.”

Aryn Vaughan, 2021 Human Development graduate; currently Prevention Sciences graduate student