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 www.utgenes.org/findings. 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.

Beyond the UTE

Our next “Genes and New Experiences Study” (GENES) re-recruited 765 former UTE participants to provide salivary samples for DNA testing. Of these participants, 181 also completed a placebo-controlled alcohol challenge in our simulated bar laboratory.  This project has been completed and yielded 6.5 million genetic markers. Students with experience in the analyses of genetic data and longitudinal analyses would be able to examine a large set of genetic markers and 10 years of behavioral data.

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 Dell Medical 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.

We are not currently accepting new research assistants, but we will be starting a new alcohol administration study soon. If you are interested in becoming a research assistant in the SAHARA Lab, please check back to determine whether we have openings. At that time, you would download and complete the Potential Research Assistant Information Form: PDF.

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Participating in Research Week

SURE presentation

SURE presentation