Research Opportunities

“The UT Experience”

In the summer of 2004, we began “The UT Experience!” (UTE), a longitudinal study of alcohol use and other behavioral risks among a cohort of first year college students. With grant funding from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), we followed these individuals over the next 6 years – as they transitioned from high school to college and beyond. This study yielded valuable new insights into the individual, environmental, and social influences on alcohol use and other behavioral risks among emerging adults, and has resulted in 30 publications to date. A summary of these findings can be found on our companion website Along with 4 years of daily monitoring data, the UTE provides a remarkable database through which students can hone their quantitative skills in conducting secondary data analysis for peer-reviewed publications.

Current Project

Now with our “Genes and New Experiences Study” (GENES), we are recruiting 1,060 former UTE participants to provide salivary samples for DNA testing. Through GENES, students gain experience in studying the genetic mechanisms of change in trajectories of drinking and other behavioral risks. This project also offers the opportunity to obtain skills in human alcohol administration procedures through placebo-controlled alcohol challenge studies with over 400 of the GENES participants. For more information, see our companion web site:

Additional Independent Research Opportunities

Graduate students in the SAHARA Lab have been very successful in obtaining NRSA grants to support their independent research on topics including intimate partner aggression, alcohol-induced blackouts, and the effects of subjective responses to alcohol on other behavioral risks. We also have collaborative relationships with the Waggoner Center for Addiction Research, as well as with faculty in Kinesiology and Health Education, the Imaging Research Center, the Population Research Center, and Arizona State University.

Undergraduate Research Opportunitiesbarlab2011

We depend on a dedicated team of undergraduate research assistants to conduct all of our research. Our research assistants have played an integral role in collecting data, interacting with participants, and working in the bar lab. This lab also provides the unique opportunity to be trained in human alcohol administration procedures.

As a commitment to our lab, we require 10 hours per week for two consecutive semesters from all research assistants. We regard the PSY 357 experience as a learning process and believe that research assistants cannot properly appreciate and get involved with laboratory work in one semester. We also encourage our undergraduate research assistants to discover their own research interests through the academic component of the course.

During your first semester, you will be given articles related to current projects on a weekly basis. Each week, you will be asked to write a brief reaction paper and participate in a group discussion about the article with other research assistants and graduate students. During your second semester, you will have the opportunity to independently research a lab-related topic of interest to you and present on your topic at the end of the semester.

If you are interested in becoming a research assistant in the SAHARA Lab, please email one of the graduate students (see About Us) or attend the next PSY 357 fair. To apply now, download and complete the Potential Research Assistant Information Form: PDF.




Participating in Research Week


SURE presentation

SURE presentation