The Comparative Cognition Lab is open to motivated, hardworking undergraduates to join as either research assistants or for class credit.


Research assistants (RAs) will gain experience working on multiple projects at all stages of the research process by working with graduate students and research assistant teams on multiple ongoing research projects and working with the lab manager on tasks to organize projects. Students will assist with

  • behavioral data coding
  • recruiting and testing child and/or adult participants
  • collecting observational primate data at the zoo and/or testing primates
  • reading, reviewing, and discussing relevant theoretical and empirical papers
  1. Students are expected to attend lab meetings (class schedule permitting), attend subject recruiting events, turn in assignments on time, and collect data at the zoo or schools.
  2. Students will split their time in the lab between 2-3 projects.
    1. Project #1: For their first project, students will be a “core member” of a team, for which they will be expected to help with experimental design, complete literature searches are reviews, create experimental documents, materials, and stimuli, collect data, code behavioral data, and eventually analyze data.
    2. Project #2: For their second project, students usually complete a more flexible assignment such as behavioral coding, or help with an administrative task. Although, students can choose to be involved as core members of two or more teams.
  3. Students can choose to work with children or animals
    1. If you are interested in working with children, please keep in mind that you will need 2 mornings of availability (8am-12pm) for testing at schools.
    2. If you are interested in collecting data at the zoo, (while not required) it will be much more convenient for you if you have a car.
  4.  While the position in the lab is unpaid, students can get class credit for participating in the lab. There may be eventual opportunities for paid positions for students who have experience in the lab and have shown they are reliable.



  • comfortable working independently
  • good time management skills
  • will treat position in the lab as seriously as a job

Preferred but not required:

  • prior experience working with children/animals
  • prior experience working in a research lab
  • interested in completing a Senior Thesis that will eventually lead to a project
  • have taken COGS 14A or an equivalent research methods class

Please note, a one year commitment (10 hours a week) is required for volunteer research assistants, with a minimum of 1 quarter of COGS 99/199 (6 hours for 2 credits or 12 hours for 4 credits).

Application Process:

  1. Interested students will USUALLY need to attend lab meetings and do preliminary assignments for a quarter before being interviewed. Please ask email the lab manager if you are interested and would like to attend meetings. Meeting times for  Fall 2020 – Spring 2021 are at Wednesdays at 10 AM.
  2. To apply, please complete the following application:  Apply Here
    Please include a PDF 1 page resume/CV.
  3. The lab manager will review your application and contact you if the lab is interested in interviewing you for the position. Applications are usually reviewed the last two weeks of a quarter.
  4. Group interviews are usually held the first or second week of the new quarter.
  5. If selected as an RA, you should expect to complete a COGS 99/199 your first quarter in the lab.
  6. After completing COGS 99/199 your first quarter, you may stay on as a volunteer or complete a second COGS 199.

More information about Cogs 99/199: Click Here

To sign up for Cogs 99/199:

  1. Email Dr. Rossano and the lab manager to verify that you may take the course, and to agree on the amount of credits.
  2. Print out the form, and take to DR. ROSSANO to fill it out and sign.
  3. turned into the Registrar’s Office by 4:30pm on Friday of Second Week of the quarter for which you plan on participating in the independent study.
  4. However, you will start working on the COGS 99/199 THE FIRST WEEK OF THE QUARTER.

Please do not take the form to the lab manager. 

Please email our lab managers at cogsci-cclab@ucsd.edu if you have any additional questions.
Please do not contact us about your application. If you are selected for an interview, you will receive an email.


For previous RAs/Interns:

If you need a letter of recommendation or reference for a position or school you are applying to, please let the lab manager and Dr. Rossano know a minimum of 2 weeks in advance of the due date.

Thank you.