The Women’s Mental Health Research Program is seeking volunteer Undergraduate Research Assistants (URAs) to work with Dr. Pauline Maki and her team on ongoing research studies. A key focus of our team is mental health in pregnant and postpartum women, with special emphasis in the relationships between hormonal, immune and neurological systems and the microbiome. These complex interactions have been coined as the “brain-gut axis”. The brain-gut axis is a new promising avenue to treat mental health disorders using probiotics.
Brief Summary of what is expected from a Student
URAs will assist with:
- Data entry and database management
- Patient recruitment, screening and consenting research participants in clinical settings
- Obtaining and tracking specimens from the enrolled participants
If you are in a biology-related major (e.g., molecular biology, nutrition, nursing, medicine), you may also assist with:
- Processing blood samples for single cell RNA-seq analysis and flow cytometry, metabolomics and proteomics assays
- Performing immunoassays using multiplex ELISA techniques
- Processing stool, vaginal, saliva and skin samples for next generation sequencing, i.e., 16S rRNA and shotgun metagenomics analysis, and metabolomics analysis
- Performing DNA extraction, PCR amplification and construction of libraries for 16S rRNA and shotgun sequencing
- Computational microbiome sample analysis
If you are a student with a computational background, you may also assist with:
- Developing databases to collect survey results, medical records and other relevant information.
- Building up computational pipelines to automatically extract medical records from participants enrolled in our study.
- Developing statistical and computational models to predict the likelihood of perinatal mental health disorders based on questionnaires, medical records and any other relevant participant’s information
Qualifications of a Student
The student should be in good academic standing with a strong GPA (3.0 or above) and have an interest in women’s mental health, psychology, psychiatry, medicine, nursing, epidemiology, microbiome, biology, nutrition, immunology, computational biology, engineering or related field.
Students should be self-motivated and display a high attention to detail.
First-year students, sophomores or juniors enrolled at UIC are preferred. We strongly prefer a 2-year commitment from students because of the effort required to train undergraduates in our research methods. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis for seniors.
We prefer students who are comfortable working with Excel. Previous experience with REDCap is ideal. Preference may be given to students in the Honors College; students who have completed courses in research methods or statistics; and/or students with a background in statistics, engineering, epidemiology and/or computer science.
To Request an Application Form
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy of your resume and most recent transcripts (n/a for Freshman).
Shannon Dowty, MPH
Research Specialist, Women’s Mental Health Research Program
Department of Psychiatry
University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System
912 S Wood Street, Room 327, MC 913
Chicago, Illinois 60612