Wilbourn Infant Lab, Duke University

Summer Research Internship for Underrepresented Students in Psychologyat Duke University

The Wilbourn Infant Lab at Duke University is offering two paid internships for college undergraduates interested in research in Developmental Psychology. Interns will gain hands-on experience conducting research with infants, children, and adults. Each intern will work closely with professor Dr. Makeba Wilbourn and graduate students to develop an independent research project in the field of Developmental Psychology.

Goals of the Summer Internship:

1) Development of research skills: The primary aim of the internship program is to help develop interns’ research skills. These include: developing a research question, planning and designing a research study, recruiting participants, learning to collect data (e.g. administering standardized tests, working with families, children, and infants), data analysis (interns will attend statistics workshops), dissemination and presentation of research.

2) Professional development: Interns will attend workshops and panel discussions with distinguished faculty and graduate students to help prepare them for applying to graduate school and life as an academic. Interns will also take a GRE preparatory course.

3) Intellectual development: Interns will be required to read literature related to the research they are conducting. Each week, interns will attend weekly lab meetings where they will develop their ability to digest and critically analyze empirical articles. Interns will also work to hone their writing skills – a crucial aspect of research in psychology.

Research Questions


Research in the Wilbourn Infant Lab at Duke focuses on language and cognitive development. Specifically, we are interested in how different cultural and economic backgrounds influence children's language learning. Interns in the lab will have the opportunity to focus on a research project examining one or more of the following questions:

Gesture & Language

o How do infants use nonverbal communication (e.g., gestures, facial expression, etc.) before they are capable of speaking?

o How does the use of nonverbal communication in the form of gesture or gesture- accompanied speech, facilitate early word learning in particular?

o How do parents and caregivers interact with children both verbally and non-verbally and how does this influence children’s language development?

Culture, Gesture, & Language

o How does race/culture and gesture influence children’s early vocabulary and language development?

o What role do both culture and socioeconomic status play in how parents and caregivers interact with children both verbally and non-verbally and how does this influence children’s later language development?


Socio-Cultural Influences on Language and Cognition

o How does one's culture impact their communication style and perceptions of others’ communications styles?

o What is the relationship between emotions and word learning?
o What do children’s drawings reveal about their social and cognitive development?

Who can apply?


. If you are from an underrepresented or minority group not mentioned here, please contact us directly to

determine your eligibility.

2) Rising juniors, majoring in Psychology or a related field are preferred. Rising sophomores, seniors, and students in terminal MA programs will also be considered.

3) Previous research experience is preferred, though not required. 4) Applicants must be highly organized and reliable.

Dates & Time Commitment

The internship is a full-time commitment (40 hours/week; 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM), for the entire duration of the internship June 15th - July 24th

Stipend, Housing, & Travel

Interns will be provided with on-campus housing at Duke University. In addition to housing, interns will be provided with a stipend of $1500.00 to cover living expenses. Up to $400 in travel costs to and from Duke University will be covered.

Students must be from one of the following underrepresented or minority

groups: First generation college student, Black/African-American, Latino/Hispanic, Native American, Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian, Native Pacific Islander, LGBTQ,

current/eligible recipient of need-based financial aid

How to apply:
All materials must be uploaded to our website: wild.psych.duke.edu/summerinternship.html

  1. 1)  A personal statement that outlines your research interests, career goals, and motivation for wanting to intern in the Wilbourn Lab at Duke. Applicants should clearly outline which of the research questions outlined above they are most interested in focusing on during their internship. Statements cannot be longer than two-pages, single-spaced.

  2. 2)  Transcript.

  3. 3)  Resume or Vita (CV).

  4. 4)  Letters of recommendation (preferably two, though one will be accepted). At least

    one letter must be from a professor. Recommenders can submit letters at: https://duke.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_78l15klS8KD6wWV. Letters must be submitted by person who wrote the letter.

Applications submitted before April 15th will be given priority. We will continue accepting applications until the positions are filled.


Visit our lab webpage for more information about the Wilbourn Infant Lab at Duke: http://wild.psych.duke.edu/home.html

More information about the summer internship program can be found here: wild.psych.duke.edu/summerinternship.html

Specific questions about the internship can be emailed to: DukeWilbournLab@gmail.com
Thank you and we look forward to receiving your application!

The Summer Research Internship for Underrepresented Students in Psychology at Duke University is funded by an NSF- Early Career Award (NSF-BCS-13-52672) awarded to Dr. Makeba Wilbourn.