Skip to main content

Research Opportunities

Get involved in research!

Northwestern is one of the top universities in the world for research, and it's easier than you think to become a part of a lab. Keep in mind that working closely with a lab can lead to independent study credit, a senior thesis, and letters of recommendation from faculty members. Many undergraduate students even publish papers in professional journals based on their work. It's never too early to start. While some labs require that you've taken statistics or research methods, many labs would be happy to accept enthusiastic students in their first year at Northwestern. Labs sometimes advertise research positions, and most wait for students to approach the lab. So be proactive. Go to the Cog Sci faculty page, and click on a few dozen faculty pages. Read their research descriptions, poke around their lab pages, and pick a few that seem most interesting to you. 

In particular, the following is a list of Cognitive Science labs that are currently welcoming undergraduate applications:

The Prosody & Speech Dynamics Lab
PI: Jennifer Cole (

The ProSD Lab investigates prosody and dynamic patterning in the production, perception and comprehension of speech, through the multi-disciplinary lens of language science.

The goal of our research is to understand the nature of prosody and speech dynamics in linguistic grammars, in cognitive representations and processing, as they relate to emotional and affective expression, and in their social function in communicating identity and relationships of social alignment. We do this by investigating prosody and dynamic speech patterns in the acoustic signal and in the perception and comprehension of speech, studying language at the individual and population levels. We are interested in all human languages, and have conducted research on American and other varieties of English, as well as Spanish, Russian and Hindi, among other languages

Creative Brain Lab
PI: Mark Beeman
We need help with studies testing creative problem solving and other measures of creative thinking, including testing participants (online/remotely, for now), scoring answers, and various other tasks. Students who are committed to longer-term participation potentially can grown into bigger research roles.
Visual Thinking Lab
PI: Steve Franconeri
We study visual thinking: how it works, and how education + design can make it work better. Most current work focuses on design, literacy, and decision making in data visualizations.

Cognition and Language Lab
Contact: Katherine Castillo (
PI: Dedre Gentner
Research at the Northwestern Cognition and Language Lab uses computational modelling and behavioral experiments to investigate the answer these questions. Our work focuses on how analogy and similarity undergird the richness and depth of human cognition.

Project on Children's Thinking
Contact: Nina Simms (
PI: Dedre Gentner
The Project on Children's Thinking studies the development of children's thought and language. We study how children come to know about the world, with a focus on how their growing insight into linguistic and conceptual structures influences their patterns of learning and reasoning.

PI: Matthew Goldrick (
SoundLab members study how we produce and perceive speech in one or more languages. We conduct experiments with monolingual and bilingual participants, analyze detailed aspects of speech, and construct computational models to analyze and explain speech processing.

Gratton Lab
Megan Dorn (lab manager; <>)
PI: Caterina Gratton
We are interested in the brain bases of goal-directed cognition. We study this question by examining how brain networks are organized, interact, and differ across people, using a combination of MRI and behavioral measures.

Lance Rips (
"We look at the way people reason about logical and mathematical problems, how they think about the nature of individual physical objects, and how they trace events’ causes and effects. The research tries to weave together ideas from philosophy, linguistics, mathematics, and cognitive psychology."

Angela Roberts
Our research focuses on the interactions among motor speech, cognitive, and language abilities in everyday communication, using converging evidence from a variety of research tools.

Joel Rosenfeld (
Brain-wave-based detection of deception & concealed information

Zoe Schwingel-Sauer (
Nicole Stephens
The Culture, Diversity, and Inequality Lab is comprised of a group of researchers led by Dr. Nicole Stephens. This lab examines how gender, social class, race, and ethnicity affect people's experiences and outcomes in settings such as education and the workplace. Researchers in the lab also develop interventions with the underlying goal of creating more diverse and effective schools, workplaces, and communities. 

Elena Barbieri (
Cynthia Thompson
Research in the Aphasia and Neurolinguistics Research Laboratory (ANRL) examines language processing (primarily verb and sentence processing) in individuals with stroke-induced aphasia, primary progressive aphasia (PPA), and cognitively healthy volunteers.

Joel Voss (
"We study brain mechanism for episodic memory using methods such as fMRI, invasive recordings of neural activity from neurosurgical patients, and brain stimulation."


Back to top