Research Assistantships with Professors Bring Learning Beyond the Classroom

Trinity Students Gain Valuable Experience and Build Networks Through Research

Hartford, Connecticut, December 8, 2015 – Research assistantships at Trinity College allow students to gain valuable experience and build long-lasting relationships with their mentors.

A research assistantship position can be a half-credit or full-credit course, offering students the chance to further their own research or support the research of a professor or a thesis student. These positions are not only available in the labs of science departments, but are also found in the social sciences and the humanities.


​Research assistant Jocelyn Redding ’16 and Assistant Professor of Psychology Elizabeth D. Casserly outside the psycholinguistics lab’s soundproof room. Photo by Andrew J. Concatelli
Jocelyn Redding ’16, a research assistant in Assistant Professor of Psychology Elizabeth D. Casserly’s lab, initially learned about sign language in elementary school and pursued her interest in American Sign Language (ASL) in high school. Her desire to learn more about anything related to the topic of deaf culture led her to Casserly, who specializes in cochlear implant research.

Redding said, “I am going into graduate school, hopefully next fall, so research experience will be a great thing to have on my resume.” Redding currently helps two thesis students in the psychology department, and another student who is doing general psycholinguistic research. “Outside of research experience in general, deaf culture and hearing loss is something that is very important to me, and I do love when people integrate into the deaf community,” she said. 

Research assistantships are geared toward upper-year students with a declared major; however, professors do welcome motivated and curious sophomores who would like to start early. Casserly said, “I wouldn’t be able to do my research without students helping me. My research doesn’t only involve a lot of time spent in the lab, but also interpersonal interactions. When we recruit participants for our experiments, it is important that we can explain to them what we need them to do. I just wouldn’t be able to balance so many interactions without my students.”

Working closely with a professor in this capacity helps a student build a lasting relationship while exploring a new area of interest. As Redding has discovered, research assistantships are an exploratory opportunity to learn about other areas of research that the classroom may not provide. Because each professor has his and her own distinct area of research, doing an assistantship with more than one professor allows students to learn more about various fields within a department.

Redding said, “I suggest getting to know your professor beforehand. If they know your work ethic and see you’re really interested, they’ll be more inclined to work with you.”

To learn more about research assistantships, reach out to a professor and ask what opportunities are available for the Spring 2016 semester.

Written by Ana Medina ’16