Undergraduate Research

Who says working in a research lab is only for graduate students? As undergraduate students, we work diligently alongside the graduate students in order to meet, and often exceed, our educational goals. While working in the lab, we gain an understanding of what is expected of students at the graduate level, as well as explore our own interests within the field of psychology. Specific activities vary across semesters but there are usually many projects underway; tasks might involve coding videotaped interactions of parents and children, collecting data in the lab and community, or managing and analyzing data. We are strongly encouraged to identify personal research projects for presentation at regional and national conferences. In addition to getting involved in the research process, students on the Family Studies research team share advice about graduate school and support each other in the application process. Join us!

Current undergraduates:


Indira Gutierrez is a Junior from Charlotte, NC majoring in Psychology and minoring in Biology. After graduation she plans to attend graduate school to eventually earn a Ph.D in Neuropsychology. Indira is passionate about mental health, with a special interested in the cognitive and behavioral changes resulting from nervous system impairment. She hopes to make a difference in the lives of those who live with mental illness or brain injury. Mental health is influenced by many factors and one of them is socioeconomic status, which is what drew her to the research conducted by the Family Studies research team. Financial struggles are often comorbid with mental health issues. With this in mind, Indira hopes that by raising awareness for housing and food insecurity on NC State’s campus, she will help create change for those students and pave avenues towards improving their mental health. 

Shivani Surati is a sophomore from Rockingham, NC. She is majoring in Microbiology with a concentration of Health Sciences, and minoring in Health, Medicine, and Human Values. Shes plans to attend graduate school after earning her bachelor's degree and find a career as a healthcare professional.  She is very interested and passionate about public health and aspires to have a career that in field. She is excited to serve a member on this research team to be able to expand her knowledge on hunger and homelessness on NC State's campus and take actions to make a change.


Pictured above from left to right: Kaitlyn, Krista, Sarah, Shannon F., Shannon G.

Kaitlyn Godfrey is a senior from Greensboro, NC. She is double majoring in Psychology and Communication, with a minor in Sociology. She plans to attend Graduate school to earn her Masters degree in School Counseling, with the intention of working in an Elementary school setting. She is very interested in parent-child relationships, which is what drew her to this lab. She hopes to learn more about parent-child dynamics and child resilience to trauma while working in the Family Studies lab this school year.

Krista Sawler is a junior majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology and biology from Westchester, New York. As a psychology major, she is very interested in behavior and family relationships. This is her first time working in a research lab. She hopes to help bring awareness and support to the problem of family homelessness. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school to become an occupational therapist and work in rehabilitation.

Sarah McKenzie is a psychology major from Charlotte, North Carolina. Upon completing her undergraduate work, she hopes to continue her studies and obtain her Master’s degree in Child Life. She aspires to work in a major pediatric hospital as a Child Life Specialist, providing profession help for children and their families to overcome and cope through the challenges associated with hospitalization. She is excited to have the opportunity to partake as a member of this research team and hopes to gain insight on dynamics within families, especially those exposed to adverse situations.

Shannon Fiore is a senior major in psychology and minoring in sociology, from Poughkeepsie, New York. Upon graduating she hopes to continue her studies earning a Masters degree in School Psychology. Her desire is to work with kids in the elementary school setting. Shannon has a strong passion for children and hopes to make an impact on the children she will be working with now and in the future. She was drawn to the Family Studies Lab to learn more about family dynamics, the overwhelming resilience of children and more about the effects of parenting.

Shannon Grivas is a sophomore majoring in psychology from Northern Virginia. As a psychology major, she is very interested in children with mental and physical disabilities as well as children who have gone through traumatic events. She became interested in this research because she wanted to help the children and their families through their difficult times. Her future plans are to help children with Autism rehabilitate themselves through therapeutic riding. She aspires to one day open up her own therapeutic riding center.

See What We’ve Been Up To:

2011 – Hannah presenting at NCPA

2011 – Stephanie, Drew, and Anna presenting at NCPA

Jessica, Christian, Morgan and Tisha discussing reliability of puzzle box coding (and dinner plans).

Christian protects our vintage VHS tape player. Hope it holds up until we finish coding!

Morgan and Jessica are excited to score a surplus file cabinet - so much data, so little storage!

Christian Shelton presenting her research at the NCSU Research Symposium, summer 2010

 Guidelines for Applying to Grad School

NCSU Undergraduate Research main page