Sheri Johnson, Professor

Closed (1) Emotion-related impulsivity and suicidality

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

Trait impulsivity has long been regarded as a risk factor for suicidal behavior; however, empirical evidence is mixed, and there is an ongoing debate among suicidality experts about how exactly individual differences in impulsivity impinge on suicidal thoughts and behaviors. This debate is complicated by the fact that both impulsivity and suicidality are complex constructs that encompass a range of phenotypes and behaviors. This project seeks to contribute to the unpacking of this complexity by examining potential pathways whereby one particular type of impulsivity--the tendency to react impulsively in response to heightened emotional states--may affect the severity, perceived controllability, or time-course of suicidal urges.

You can read more about research on impulsivity and suicidality, including emotion-related impulsivity and acute suicidal affective disturbances:

Anestis, M. D., Fink, E. L., Bender, T. W., Selby, E. A., Smith, A. R., Witte, T. K., & Joiner, T. E. (2012). Re‐considering the association between negative urgency and suicidality. Personality and Mental Health, 6, 138-146.

Auerbach, R. P., Stewart, J. G., & Johnson, S. L. (2017). Impulsivity and suicidality in adolescent inpatients. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 45, 91-103.

Rogers, M. L., Chiurliza, B., Hagan, C. R., Tzoneva, M., Hames, J. L., Michaels, M. S., ... & Joiner, T. E. (2017). Acute suicidal affective disturbance: Factorial structure and initial validation across psychiatric outpatient and inpatient samples. Journal of Affective Disorders, 211, 1-11.

Apprentices will assist senior team members with overseeing an online study of impulsivity and suicidality. Specific responsibilities may include: posting recruitment ads, responding to participant inquiries, monitoring data collection, managing quantitative data, running data analyses, and conducting literature search. Apprentices will accrue first-hand experience carrying out clinical research and will learn about impulsivity and suicidality.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Janan Mostajabi, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: We are seeking upper division students with training in research methods and a demonstrated track record of academic success. Because this project involves working on a challenging topic and potentially interacting remotely with distressed participants, it is essential that applicants possess a high level of professionalism and strong interpersonal skills. Applicants should be able to work independently and as part of a team; punctuality and conscientiousness are imperative.

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: Work to be conducted remotely until further notice.

Closed (2) Learn to conduct fMRI scans

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

The CALM Program at UC Berkeley (director: Prof. Sheri Johnson) is looking for a talented undergraduate to assist in a large research project as an fMRI scanner operator. This position is ideal for those interested in pursuing careers in medicine or research (psychology, neuroscience, biophysics, etc.).


Primary duties will include:
1. Operating the Siemens 3T MRI scanner at the Brain Imaging Center (BIC);
2. Training and running participants through the scanner;
3. Performing other tasks as necessary to support the research team.

Punctuality, professionalism, and a careful and conscientious demeanor are imperative. Because this project may involve working with participants with mental health diagnoses, strong interpersonal skills and comfort with interacting with research participants is required.


Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Matthew Elliott , Graduate Student

Qualifications: Required Qualifications: Candidates must 1. Have taken Introductory Physics and Biology; 2. Be willing to complete BIC safety and operator trainings; 3. Be able to commit at least 5-10 hours per week during the semester, including both day and evening appointments; 4. Have the ability to work independently and as part of a team; 5. Be available for at least a two-semester commitment. Preferred qualifications: 1. Classes in nuclear/MR physics, cognitive neuroscience, or similar. 2. Prior experience of working with medical imaging modalities (EEG, MRI, fNIRS, CT, etc.) and/or in a research lab.

Weekly Hours: 12 or more hours

Closed (3) Behavior and Mental Health

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

This project consists of two sub-projects: 1) Behavior and Mental Health, 2) OCD and Habit. Please make sure to indicate on your application which project you are most interested in.

Behavior and Mental Health: Much attention has been focused on dysfunction associated with high or low approach motivation, or with deficits in effortful control. Recent evidence suggests, however, that it is important to consider these two dimensions jointly. This project examines the transdiagnostic effects of extremes in approach motivation and cognitive control across self-report, behavioral, and fMRI measurements.
Day-to-day supervisor: Janan Mostajabi

OCD and Habit: Broadly, we are starting a new study to examine the relationship between OCD and instrumental learning. We are especially interested in testing the habit hypothesis of OCD: are failures in goal-directed control due to an overreliance on habitual control, or by problems learning action-outcome relationships? We will administer a web-based learning and decision-making task, as well as clinical measures via Qualtrics surveys and phone interviews. The goal is for research assistants to learn about the process of clinical research, gain
experience with data management (including use of Python and R – no prior expertise necessary!) and learn more about the relationship between clinical symptoms of OCD, reinforcement learning, and habit.
Day-to-day supervisor: Manon Ironside

Primary duties

Behavior and Mental Health: Apprentices will assist senior team members with recruitment (e.g. distributing study flyers, screening participants), data collection (running participants through experimental sessions), manage quantitative data (e.g. spreadsheets, data files), and other administrative tasks (e.g., literature searches) as needed. The goal is for apprentices to learn about the process of clinical research, gain experience running experimental sessions, and learn about the relationships between cognition, emotion, and impulsivity. This project is open to both remote and in-person apprentices.

OCD and Habit: Assisting senior team members with participant recruitment (using email and calendly), data collection (sending survey/task links), and data management (using Qualtrics, R, Python, and helping to maintain project organization in Box). All data collection will be completed virtually; there will be no in-person sessions with participants. Depending on interest, there may be opportunities to assist with literature searches.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Ben Weinberg, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: 1) Behavior and Mental Health: We are seeking students with a GPA of at least 3.5, and availability with class schedules to accommodate session scheduling throughout the week. Punctuality, professionalism, and a careful and conscientious demeanor are imperative. Because this project may involve working with participants with mental health diagnoses, strong interpersonal skills and comfort interacting with research participants is required. 2) OCD and Habit: We are seeking upper-division students with an interest in cognitive processes in the context of clinical science. Careful attention to detail, prompt responding, professionalism, and strong communication skills are imperative. We are looking for candidates with availability on at least 2 days per week, with 4-6 hours available for research work on each of these days. Some experience in programming with Qualtrics, R and/or Python is ideal, though no specific programming skills are required.

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

Related website: https://calm.berkeley.edu/

Closed (4) Individual differences and sexual experiences

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

Sexual attitudes and experiences vary widely among college students in the US. This project seeks to understand how certain individual differences, such as differences in impulsivity and personality, may affect college students' sexual attitudes and experiences. We plan to run an online study to examine students' self-reported traits, sexual attitudes, and sexual experiences.

Apprentices will assist senior team members with overseeing an online study of personality, impulsivity, sexual attitudes, and sexual experiences. Specific responsibilities may include: participant recruitment and communication, monitoring data collection, managing quantitative data, running data analyses, and conducting literature search. Apprentices will accrue first-hand experience carrying out quantitative research and will learn more about the study of personality, impulsivity, and sexual attitudes and behavior. , Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: We are seeking upper division students with training in research methods and a demonstrated track record of academic success. It is essential that applicants possess a high level of professionalism and strong interpersonal skills. Applicants should be able to work independently and as part of a team; punctuality and conscientiousness are imperative.

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: Work to be conducted remotely until further notice.