The CAP (Cognition, Affect and Psychopathology) Lab trains outstanding undergraduate and doctoral students in clinical science and cognitive neuroscience. Pre-doctoral level training in the lab is particularly relevant for students who plan to apply to PhD programs in clinical science or cognitive neuroscience, including students who plan to pursue MD/PhD programs. As with many research labs, there usually is a waiting list for potential entry, although we are always interested in strong candidates.
The goal of undergraduate training in the CAP Lab is to prepare trainees exceedingly well for entry into doctoral training in clinical science or neuroscience. The goal of PhD training in the lab is to thoroughly prepare students for research positions. Potential trainees with other goals should carefully consider whether the lab would be a good fit for their interests and plans. Please see the FAQs below for additional information.
We are most interested in a good fit between the work in the lab and the interests and goals of the applicant. Applicants who are highly motivated, dependable, mature, team-oriented, and intellectually curious, and who hope to eventually apply for doctoral training in neuroscience, cognitive neuroscience, or clinical science are the best fits. Applicants whose goals are to pursue primarily clinical careers (i.e., providing psychological services) generally are not a good fit, as the content and process of training in the lab is designed to develop trainees' research proficiency. The CAP Lab also is a team-oriented environment, and evidence of willingness and ability to be a good team player is extremely important.
Successful applicants already will have taken research methods or experimental psychology, statistics, brain and behavior, and abnormal psychology. In some cases an exception might be made for a person who is currently taking one of the required courses. In all cases trainees will be responsible for acquiring the prerequisite skills. Successful applicants also will have basic working knowledge of SPSS or R, and will have experience reading scientific articles critically. Students also should strongly consider building their computer science skills; familiarity with Linux/Unix and/or Matlab is especially useful.
Research assistants are expected to schedule 10 hours in the lab each week, although diligent RAs also realize that additional time often is necessary for a full training experience. Potential RAs should be aware that training in a lab is not like taking a course; scheduling is more flexible, but the responsibilities require active participation and a consistent level of self-initiated hard work. In addition, research labs operate year-round, not just during the academic semester. There is a weekly two-hour lab meeting at which attendance is mandatory.
All RAs are expected to commit to one year minimum duration, although Dr. Weierich reserves the right to discontinue an RA's lab membership at any time given evidence of a poor fit.
RAs train in all steps of the research process. New RAs learn the basics of human subjects protection, run participants through lab studies, and enter and manage data. As RAs continue to develop their knowledge and skills, they begin training to conduct structured clinical interviews, conceptualize and design independent projects, write and submit IRB applications, lead smaller teams on small projects, and analyze data and prepare conference presentations. Advanced, highly motivated students also have the opportunity to participate in manuscript and grant writing. All RAs are expected to help other lab members with projects and training.
The CAP Lab employs a variety of methods to answer our research questions. Some of these methods (e.g., fMRI, neurohormone assay) require intensive attention to detail, a very high level of motivation, and a willingness to take the time to learn new skills. A subset of CAP Lab personnel are selected to work on projects that incorporate these methods.
We also spend some lab time on professional development topics, including preparation for graduate school applications. One of Dr. Weierich's goals for training is to build a strong pipeline of highly qualified applicants from the CAP Lab into doctoral training in neuroscience and clinical science (including the doctoral portion of MD/PhD programs). We have a very strong track record of lab alumni entering doctoral training.
Please note that the lab itself does NOT provide clinical training. In our lab we take a quite rigorous multi-method approach to answering research questions about both normative and clinically-relevant states and disorders. Although some of our questions are clinical in nature (e.g., mechanisms underlying symptom episodes in PTSD), and we conduct the research versions of clinical interviews, we are mainly interested in uncovering the neurobiological and behavioral mechanisms underlying a range of affective responses. The lab is NOT a clinic, and we do not provide treatment nor training in the conduct of treatment.
Yes, but with two caveats. First, Dr. Weierich's policy is that undergraduate research advisees must commit to at least one year (2 semesters) in the lab. Note that it is not possible to gain meaningful lab experience or skills in only one semester. Students who are admitted to the lab may enroll for independent study credit, or can volunteer. Please also note that Dr. Weierich does not advise student projects that fall outside the scope of CAP Lab research, as quality advising requires that the advisor is well-versed in the topic. Second, due to the pandemic and social distancing guidelines, for Fall 2020 it is not yet clear that undergraduates will be permitted to physically come to the lab, and it is not clear when in-person human subjects research will resume. Dr. Weierich is working on a remote training plan that still will permit skill acquisition and a team environment.
Students should be aware that the expectations are high for skill acquisition and teamwork during their time in the lab. In return, the student will experience the process of conducting an independent research project from beginning to end, which is invaluable preparation for doctoral training.
CAP Lab members are especially well-trained for clinical science and neuroscience doctoral programs and have been highly successful in gaining admission. For example, recent lab members have received offers of admission from:
Neuroscience doctoral programs:
Washington University in St. Louis
Clinical Science doctoral programs:
Penn State University
Stony Brook University
University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign
University of Minnesota
University of Texas at Austin
Washington University in St. Louis
Clinical Psychology doctoral programs:
Bowling Green State University
John Jay, City University of New York
Eastern Michigan University
Long Island University
Miami University of Ohio
Northern Illinois University
Oklahoma State University
University of Illinois Chicago
University of Missouri Kansas City
University of Missouri St. Louis
University of Nevada Reno
Western Michigan University
Cognition and Perception doctoral programs:
Yes, Dr. Weierich will consider incoming doctoral students for Fall 2020.
The Weierich lab moved to the University of Nevada, Reno, in Fall 2019. Dr. Weierich plans to review doctoral applications for Fall 2023 for the Clinical Psychology Program and the Integrative Neuroscience Program. Please check again closer to the deadline to confirm before submitting an application.
Please note that all CAP Lab members, regardless of individual training emphasis, are required to achieve proficiency in ALL basic level lab skills (i.e., knowledge of the relevant neuroscientific, cognitive, clinical, and translational literature, conduct of behavioral studies, development of computerized behavioral tasks, basic data management and analysis, clinical interviewing, and professional development). Neuro Team members also are responsible for learning saliva assay and neuroimaging techniques and analysis.
Doctoral training obviously involves much more than the standard research assistant positions. Prospective doctoral students should contact Dr. Weierich via email with their research interests and CVs.
We will place UNR RA applications on file for potential positions in Fall 2022. Please send your CV/resume, a description of your research interests, your plans and timeline for graduate education, and a list of relevant skills and experience to mweierich[at]unr.edu. When we are not considering new applicants, you will be placed on the waiting list, and when a new position becomes available you will be considered for potential interview. You should also consider applying for positions in other labs (see next FAQ).
Pre doctoral-level trainees should seek a position in any active research lab that shares the basic approach of interest (e.g., if you are interested broadly in research with human participants, you could try clinical, social, cognitive, or developmental labs). At pre doctoral levels of training, the most important purpose of a research assistantship is learning the process of research, and only secondarily the content (i.e., topic).
If you find a position in a lab that focuses on something other than your topic of interest, (a) work hard to learn the process, (b) take time to think about the common elements between that lab's topic and your topic, (c) keep up with the literature in your primary area of interest, and (d) talk with your PI regarding how to frame the transferable elements of your training in your application materials.