The Research Assistant Application Program (RAAP) provides first-hand experience with serious psychological research in a host of exciting research projects. Students can research factors that influence human behavior at every point in the life span, from prenatal to old age. Students in good academic standing are encouraged to become involved in research as early as possible in their academic program, preferably during the sophomore year. This kind of opportunity will be invaluable for students who are thinking about pursuing graduate work in psychology or related areas. It will help them decide whether they have the interest and aptitude for research and will help them become competitive for admission to a graduate program.

Also, download the RAAP Application HERE!



There are 2 ways one can go about applying to become a research assistant: official and unofficial. You may choose to use both of these methods at the same time to increase your chances of being accepted into a lab, however this is not necessary. First you need to find a lab.

Finding a Lab: 3 Ways

• At the beginning of each semester, a list of open labs will be posted under “RAAP” on the Psych_homeroom found on Blackboard.
• On SDSU’s Psychology Department website, under Research, all the faculty areas of research are listed along with a description of their lab.
• You may want to consider applying to a lab of a professor that you already know from previous coursework, although this is not necessary.

1. Select 1-3 labs of interest. Applying to more than one lab will increase your likelihood of being accepted into a lab.
2. Download and fill out the RAAP application**
3. Save your application as: RAAP APP_Your Name.
For example: RAAP APP_Ashley Smith.
4. Tailor your application to fit the lab you are applying to. If you are applying to multiple labs you will need to submit individualized applications.
5. Make sure the application is saved as a .doc and not a .docx or anything else.
6. E-mail your application to and include which lab you are interested in.
7. RAAP administration will send your application to the professor.
8. They will notify you within 2 weeks of your application submission if you are accepted into the lab.
9. If we do not notify you within the first 2 weeks, it is because the professor has not responded yet. At this point, you will need to e-mail them with a brief reminder of your application.

**The RAAP application can be found:
• On Psych_homeroom under RAAP
• On the Psychology department’s website under Research-> Student Research Experience ->Become a Research Assistant
• You can find it on the Desktops of the computers found in the Resource Room of LS North 105.

Unofficial application
1. Select 1-3 labs of interest.
2. E-mail the professors. In these e-mails you will need to briefly introduce yourself and express your interest in their lab and why. You will need to ask if they have openings in the semester you are interested in. You will also need to ask them if they want you to fill out the RAAP application, provide a CV/resume, and/or provide an unofficial transcript.

3. From this point, you will wait up to 2 weeks and if they don’t respond, you will want to send a follow up e-mail.
4. If they respond and sound interested, you will want to set up a meeting with the professor.

Helpful Hints:

• Many professors heavily weigh the grades you earned in Statistics, PSY280, PSY281, PSY301, and/or PSY410 when evaluating your application

• Peer advisors in LS105 can help you with CV/resume building


Research Lab Openings

These openings are also posted on Blackboard “Homeroom” under the “Research 499” tab at the beginning of each semester.

Research Assistant Position – Brain Development Imaging Lab (BDIL)

POSTED 1/16/2013

We are looking for a Research Assistant with strong interests in cognitive/social neuroscience and developmental psychology.  Our research efforts focus on understanding how the brain is organized – functionally and structurally – in typical and atypical development; namely, we investigate how different parts of the brain are connected and how they work together in the course of human development.  We work with typically developing children and adolescents, as well as with children with autism, trying to understand what happens to the brain when typical developmental processes are disturbed.  Dr. Fishman, who is going to be a primary mentor for the RA, is specifically focusing on investigating social brain circuits, that is, those brain networks that help us navigate – and thrive – in complex social situations as we grow and mature.  Our chief research tools for examining those questions are neuroimaging techniques (including functional MRI and diffusion tensor imaging) combined with comprehensive neuropsychological and behavioral testing.

The person in this position will be responsible for database maintenance, assistance with subject recruitment and fMRI data acquisition and, most importantly, for fMRI data analysis.  The ideal candidate for this position will have at least moderate comfort level / previous experience with brain data analysis (e.g., EEG, fMRI) and familiarity with computational techniques, including programming and scripting (e.g., some knowledge of Matlab is very helpful).  However, these are not requirements, as we have had many capable students who were able to acquire and profess the necessary skills while working in our lab.  Please contact Dr. Fishman (see below) if you have any questions about the scope of the duties and your fit for the position.  A long-term commitment (at least two semesters) would be ideal, as the above analytic techniques require extensive training and involve a relatively prolonged learning curve.  That being said, a motivated student will have an opportunity to carve out her/his own research project and to carry it to fruition, including publishing a manuscript.

Position is available immediately.  To apply, please contact Inna Fishman at 619-574-2299 or




See more information regarding  specific research interests of the Psychology Department faculty.