Prospective Students

Graduate Students

Prospective graduate students interested in working with Professor Vaish should contact her directly. Ideal candidates will have had research experience (though not necessarily in developmental psychology), as well as solid undergraduate training in psychology. Please review the laboratory’s current research interests and those of others in the department to be sure that you think it is a good fit with your interests. Applicants should specify “developmental psychology” as their area of interest on the application form.

Graduate students in developmental psychology at UVa are encouraged to get experience in multiple laboratories. Those who work with Professor Vaish may also be interested in working with Angeline Lillard, Vikram Jaswal, and Tobias Grossmann. To learn more about our research group, visit the site for the Child Development Laboratories.

The Psychology Department website contains general information for current and prospective graduate students and the graduate program in developmental psychology.

Undergraduate Students

We mainly have Research Assistant (RA) positions open up in the summer and fall. However, there are sometimes opportunities for new RAs to join the lab in the spring as well. Typically, RAs are either volunteers or receive class credit and are required to commit to at least 10 hours/week. These positions go very quickly, so it is important that you apply early. We generally review applications for the summer and fall in early March. Applications for the spring are reviewed on an ongoing basis during the fall semester.

RAs have the opportunity to help out with study design, recruiting families, running the experiments, and analyzing data. Additionally, RAs have the opportunity (and are expected) to attend a lab meeting every two weeks, where we discuss both practical and theoretical issues related to the research.

What qualities do we look for in an undergraduate RA?

Friendly. In our lab, you will interact with children and their parents. It is therefore crucial that you are friendly and enjoy being around young children. It’s okay if you don’t have much experience with children, so long as you are interested in gaining that experience.

Meticulous. Many of our studies involve very subtle manipulations. RAs need to be extremely vigilant to ensure that the results of our studies are valid.

Conscientious. For many of our studies, we ask families to bring their children to the lab. When you are scheduled to run a study, you need to arrive early to greet the family. We do not want to risk alienating any of our families who are volunteering their time.

Curious. Although you’ll start out working on well-defined tasks, we expect you will contribute your own ideas, and that you will take the initiative to learn about the broader issues that we are investigating.

Why be a Research Assistant?

Getting involved in research can be one of the most fulfilling aspects of your undergraduate career, and we urge you to get involved with a lab as soon as you find a topic that interests you. It will give you in-depth experience on a particular topic, train you in how science is done, and help to prepare you for graduate, professional, or medical school. RAs can go on to do Distinguished Majors Projects in the lab in their fourth year, and may also become co-authors on presentations and published papers. It’s also fun, and can really make you feel like you’re part of a community.

How To Apply

We are accepting applications to be placed in our applicant pool which will allow us to reach out should any positions become available.

To apply, please fill out our online application  and contact the Lab Coordinator, Hailey Costello ( with the required application materials (Cover Letter and Resume) after the form has been submitted. 

For questions about our research or RA opportunities, please also contact Hailey Costello (