Undergraduate Student
Opportunities
Paid Research Positions

Application Process for Rice Undergraduate Students

To apply, submit the following application documents online at 12twenty (12twenty account needed).

  • Student Application Form
  • Resume
  • Unofficial Transcript
  • Project-Specific Paragraph for each project to which you are applying

Research Projects available for Spring 2024 Semester

Please note: additional student opportunities will be posted on November 15; please check back then. Application deadline for the Spring semester is Friday December 1 at 11:59pm.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Travis Alexander

Project Title
Health Aesthetics: An Exhibit and Discussion on Art in the Medical Humanities

Project Description
In the late spring, Rice will host an event that combines a small art exhibit with an associated panel discussion of scholars on the role art can play in the medical humanities. It will be open to Rice and the Houston community. Student Researchers will assist me in planning, promoting, and coordinating the event.

Possible tasks the student would be expected to perform
-Handle correspondence with the artist(s) and scholars
-Work with relevant Rice offices to book travel for visiting participants
-Handle logistics associated with hosting event (caterers, venue, etc)
-Help promote event/distribute promotional materials and flyers

Specific skills or training the student should have before beginning the project
-Digital research
-Professional communication etiquette
-Ability to coordinate with different offices at Rice

Onboarding
If selected, students must show evidence of completion of specific CITI IRB training modules. Details will be included in acceptance letters.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Raudel Avila

Project Title
Inclusive engineering design of bioelectronic form factors to monitor hypertension among US Hispanics/Latinos.

Project Description
Bioelectronic devices with soft mechanics, wireless connectivity, and electronic components that continuously track physiological signals can be placed epidermally on key locations to track hypertension and other cardiovascular risk factors. These devices, with form factors that rely on miniaturized geometries with soft-hard composite material architectures, aim to expand medical diagnostics capabilities beyond hospitals and clinics. However, the deployment of these devices is not homogenous as one size fits all patients type of approach. The cultural connection of technology and medicine in respective communities needs to be considered in the design to ensure patient adoption and continuous use. The prevalence of hypertension (30% of Hispanics have high blood pressure) and other cardiovascular diseases among Hispanic Americans makes diagnostic and treatment a critical need among the community where additional economic, language, and educational barriers increase the risk of accurate diagnostics and patient compliance. The student project will focus on identifying the key engineering design elements and proposing a conceptual design strategy that can eliminate one or multiple barriers to accelerate medical technology adoption among US Hispanics/Latinos for diagnostic and treatment of hypertension.

Possible tasks the student would be expected to perform
Literature Review, Drafting, Design, Creation of Slide Decks, Brainstorming, and Simulations.

Specific skills or training the student should have before beginning the project
Not required. But, any drafting or design experience is a plus. Additionally, technical reading and writing is also a plus. Experience with looking at patents is also a plus.

Onboarding
If selected, students must show evidence of completion of specific CITI IRB training modules. Details will be included in acceptance letters.

Any additional information
The deliverables of this project can help to shape the direction of inclusive engineering design concepts reflected in the technology that we use everyday.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Aarti Bavare (Texas Children's Hospital)

Project Title
Family and health caregiver perceptual impact on management of pediatric pain, sedation, delirium and withdrawal in critical ill children.

Project Description
Critically ill children admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) are very likely to need pain management and/ or sedation to accomplish clinical goals of critical care. The pain and sedative medications need to be judiciously used and weaned so that they do not allow for undue suffering or cause side effects and withdrawal syndrome. Critical illness and sedative medications also place the patients at risk of experiencing delirium (an uncomfortable state with alteration of attention, consciousness, and cognition, with a reduced ability to focus). The state makes patients not feel like normal people and impacts their response to therapies and eventual health outcomes.

Patients and family members are crucial partners of health caregivers in determining pain thresholds and diagnosing delirium. To treat patients and families as people there needs to be a strong collaborative relationship that health caregivers need to build with them to understand their preferences and develop a comprehensive shared responsibility plan for pain, sedation, delirium and withdrawal management. For both, health caregivers and patients' families; socio cultural backgrounds, prior experiences and beliefs guide assessment of pain and hence the response to mitigate it.

Our goal is to understand the spectrum of perceptions about pain, sedation, delirium, withdrawal management preferences that exist in our patient's families and nurses and understand the associations if any with their sociodemographic characteristics.

Possible tasks the student would be expected to perform
Development and implementation of a tool to interview nurses and patients/families to collect data on perceptions and preferences about pain, sedation, delirium and withdrawal

Specific skills or training the student should have before beginning the project
N/A

Onboarding
If selected, students must show evidence of completion of specific CITI IRB training modules. Details will be included in acceptance letters. In addition, students will need Texas Children's badging for research participation.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Nirica Borges (Texas Children's Hospital)

Project Title
The impact of inclusion of personalized stories into the medical record.

Project Description
Understanding a patient’s values and preferences are key to providing high quality Patient Centered Care. Hospitalized patients may encounter dozens of healthcare providers, and hospital care teams face challenges in sharing complex clinical and non-clinical information over time. This project aims to address this deficit by creating a Narrative in the patient or family’s own words about their child. Students will develop a narrative of a hospitalized child’s story to share in the medical record, and assess the impact of this on clinical care teams. They will collaborate with children (if age appropriate) and families in developing a narrative of the child’s family life, likes and dislikes, daily routine, and anything else the family wishes is included. We will then survey healthcare providers to assess if the story was helpful to them in providing Patient Centered Care.

Possible tasks the student would be expected to perform

  1. Develop “story” script with faculty team.
    • Routines
    • Likes
    • Dislikes
    • School
    • Family structure
  2. Meet with and interview family, child (if age appropriate)
  3. Write up interview as the child’s story
  4. Review the writeup with family and finalize
  5. Develop a brief survey for clinical teams to assess if the story contributed to care
    • Nursing
    • Physicians
    • APPs

Specific skills or training the student should have before beginning the project
Review educational materials and references to be provided.
Interview skills using provided prompt/script.
Interest in narrative medicine skills.

Onboarding

  1. TCH Onboarding
  2. VA My Life My Story Interview training (provided in powerpoint format)
  3. If selected, students must show evidence of completion of specific CITI IRB training modules. Details will be included in acceptance letters.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Marcia Brennan

Project Title

Deer Trails Through the Woods: A Neurocognitive Fairytale

Project Description
This Research Assistant position would provide assistance to the professor with a book project currently in development. Through an imaginative engagement with neuroaesthetics, this book presents the imagery of the forest as a creative metaphor for re-envisioning the structures of the human brain, the distressing mental health conditions of anxiety and OCD, and the process of finding a better pathway forward. By engaging these subjects, this book will contribute meaningfully to forging new pathways within the resonant fields of Aesthetics, Neuroaesthetics, Education, and Psychology. The student research portion is described below.

Possible tasks the student would be expected to perform
Undertaking research on cognitive science and neuroaesthetics; engaging in conversations with the professor on these topics; and producing original creative visual artworks (drawings and watercolors) relating to these themes.

Specific skills or training the student should have before beginning the project
Basic background in Cognitive Science
Visual Arts skills in painting and drawing

Onboarding
If selected, students must show evidence of completion of specific CITI IRB training modules. Details will be included in acceptance letters.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kirstin Matthews

Project Title
Medical Interpreter Narratives

Project Description
Non-English speakers and those who have limited English proficiency often rely on the services of others to interpret what healthcare providers are telling them and to make their own needs and questions understood. These medical interpreters play a critical role in advancing the well-being of under-served, marginalized, or otherwise vulnerable people, but often face their own unique ethical challenges different from others in the healthcare system. This project will develop of an open-access collection of narratives from medical interpreters and host a workshop at Rice University to disseminate the collection.

Possible tasks the student would be expected to perform
Student interns will assist researchers wit h manuscript editing, development of outreach materials and other administrative activities associated with the narrative collection. Interns will also help with the planning a workshop to discuss and disseminate the narratives.

Specific skills or training the student should have before beginning the project
Students should have strong writing and editing skills and an interest in health and health policy issues.

Onboarding
If selected, students must show evidence of completion of specific CITI IRB training modules. Details will be included in acceptance letters.

Any additional information
This internship is with the Baker Institute for Public Policy - Center for Health and Biosciences. You will be working with fellow and scholars at the Baker Institute as well as non-resident fellows and Rice faculty associate with the center.

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Kirsten Ostherr

Project Title
AI for Health Equity

Project Description
Student researchers will work with Dr. Ostherr to identify, analyze and summarize AI for healthcare projects and their intended or likely impact on issues related to health equity and inequity. Additional work will involve interviews with patient advocates related to their perspectives on AI regulation. The resulting work will form a database and reports to be posted on the Medical Humanities Research Institute website, presented at conferences, and published in peer-reviewed journals.

Possible tasks the student would be expected to perform
Conduct literature reviews through PubMed and other library resources; conduct online research; analyze FDA AI/ML device approvals; analyze patent applications; analyze promotional materials posted online; conduct, record, and analyze interviews with AI/ML developers and with patient advocates; conduct, record, and analyze interviews with health professionals using AI/ML; conduct, record, and analyze interviews with health equity organizations; write summaries and syntheses of results; interpret results.

Specific skills or training the student should have before beginning the project
Excellent written, oral, and visual presentation skills; understanding of basic functions of AI/ML; understanding of basic functions of healthcare systems; understanding of basic U.S. laws and policies related to data protections, within and outside of healthcare settings; coursework in Medical Humanities or equivalent

Onboarding
Required: Fondren library research training. If selected, students must show evidence of completion of specific CITI IRB training modules. Details will be included in acceptance letters.
Possible: Zotero training