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Veteran and military-connected student summer research program in mental health research

The Minneapolis VA Health Care System Service to Science Scholars Summer Research Institute offers six full-time, paid positions to undergraduate and graduate students in psychology and related health science fields.

The Minneapolis VA Mental Health Integrated Care Community, with support from the VA Office of Research and Development, hosts a Veteran and military-connected student summer research program in mental health research. We recognize that Veterans are underrepresented among scientists pursuing VA mission-critical behavioral science research on PTSD, suicide prevention, post-deployment health and reintegration issues, and other mental health issues.

We're eager for student Veterans and military-connected students (e.g., children of U.S. Veterans) to gain a clinical science understanding of mental disorders necessary for their success as the future generation of VA scientists.

About the program

Dates

  • Apply by March 30, 2022
  • Program runs from June 6 to August 12, 2022 (10 weeks)

Accommodations for start and end dates may be made to meet class schedule needs. This program is a full-time commitment to extensive lab work.

Stipend and housing

  • $6,000 stipend
  • Additional housing allowance (University of Minnesota campus housing is available)
  • Travel reimbursement up to $500

Highlights

  • Real-world experience with cutting-edge Veteran-focused research at a major VA medical facility. Our nationally and internationally recognized award-winning VA faculty are studying a range of questions relevant to Veteran populations; including PTSD, suicide risk and prevention, traumatic brain injury, cognitive aging, severe mental illness, dimensional psychopathology, addiction, sensor technologies and mHealth assessments, risk and resilience.
  • Faculty-led seminars on various interdisciplinary topics in Veteran mental health research.
  • Tutorials on applying to, surviving and excelling in graduate school and beyond.
  • Social networking activities with other summer researchers in the program.
  • Weekly research seminars on topics such as how-to’s of applying statistics, effective mentoring and scientific writing.
  • Opportunities for authoring papers and scientific presentations.
  • Daily experience of learning from faculty mentors, graduate students and others farther along their career paths.
  • Presentation of your research experience to other students and faculty.

How to apply

Who can apply

  • This program is open to undergraduate (junior or senior standing) and graduate students in psychology and related health science fields
  • Students must have a strong academic record, minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4-point scale
  • Applicants must be a U.S. citizen
  • Applicants must be a U.S. Veteran or service member, or their dependent

Preference will be given to applicants who have completed Research Methods or a related course prior to application. Students who are interested in pursuing research careers and have an interest in Veteran mental health research are especially encouraged to apply. Applications will also be considered from students from groups that have been historically underrepresented in science as defined by the National Science Foundation.

Application process

Please submit the following materials by March 30, 2022:

  • Personal statement: 500-word (maximum) statement describing your 1.) academic and career goals, 2.) how the program would support those goals, and 3.) specific research areas in Veteran mental health that you're interested in, as well as 4.) potential faculty mentors.
  • Curriculum vitae/resume describing your academic, research and work experience, and a list of three references.
  • Transcripts: unofficial transcripts from all postsecondary institutions attended.

Email application materials to: Derall.King@va.gov

Program structure

We're currently seeking applications for a limited number of full-time paid positions for 10 weeks of summer research in collaboration with one or more principal investigators conducting mental health research at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. Prior research experience is not required, just an interest and curiosity about the scientific process. Additional opportunities to continue with research involvement for class credit during the school year may be available. Please contact us with any questions: Melissa.Polusny@va.gov and Snezana.Urosevic@va.gov

Service to Science Summer Research Institute includes

Undergraduate students are introduced to the scientific community and techniques and practices of clinical psychopathology science.

Graduate students are introduced to the VA scientific community and roles and responsibilities of a clinician investigator, including provision of peer mentoring of undergraduates under the supervision of a faculty mentor.

Weekly seminars address research communication skills, practical research skills, equity and inclusion awareness, developing identity as a scientist, increasing research independence, and career and professional development skills. Students attend a weekly seminar focused on introduction to relevant data visualization and data analyses software.

The program provides students ample opportunities for networking with other researchers and students, collaborating with research teams, participating in lab meetings, attending research colloquia and scientific presentations.

Students will be paired with a mentor for weekly meetings and will be expected to contribute to the mentor’s active project(s). Potential mentors and their core areas of research focus include:

  • Carol Chu (Yu), PhD, Suicide risk and prevention, mHealth assessments
  • Nicolas Davenport, PhD, Mild TBI, PTSD, neuroimaging
  • Seth Disner, PhD, Genetic factors in PTSD, mild TBI
  • Jacob Finn, PhD, Psychological health and social functioning after TBI, TBI Model Systems program
  • Adriana Hughes, PhD, Aging, cognitive decline, active/passive sensor technologies
  • Craig Marquardt, PhD, Neurobiology of PTSD (EEG), longitudinal study of resilience, personality
  • Melissa Polusny, PhD, Risk and resilience, longitudinal studies of military deployment and reintegration, post-traumatic stress disorders, and resilience
  • Paulo Shiroma, MD, Randomized control trials for PTSD, ketamine treatment
  • Scott Sponheim, PhD, Brain abnormalities in schizophrenia and psychosis, mild TBI, PTSD, neuroimaging, electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Britt Stevenson, PhD, Addiction, alcohol use, ecological momentary assessment
  • Paul Thuras, PhD, Biostatistics in mental health research
  • Snezana Urosevic, PhD, Bipolar disorders, EEG, neuroimaging, mHealth and digital phenotyping

We anticipate the 2022 summer program to be in-person. Program structure and any modifications are subject to change and will be adjusted accordingly to align with VA COVID-19 policies.