Summer Research Internship for Underrepresented Students in Psychology at Duke University

The Wilbourn Infant Lab at Duke University is offering three paid internships for college undergraduates interested in research in Developmental Psychology. Interns will gain hands-on experience conducting research with infants, children, and adults. Each intern will work closely with professor Dr. Makeba Wilbourn and graduate students to develop an independent research. The WILD is in the process of starting a new internship program! Please visit this temporary webpage of our upcoming internship opportunity:

Goals of the Summer Internship

1) Development of Research Skills
    The primary aim of the internship program is to help develop interns’ research skills. Interns will:
  • Develop a research question
  • Plan and design a research study
  • Learn to collect data
  • Recruit participants
  • Analyze data
  • Disseminate and present their research
2) Professional and Research Development
    Interns will attend workshops and panel discussions with distinguished faculty and graduate students to help prepare them for applying to graduate school and life as an academic. Interns will attend:
  • GRE Workshops
  • Writing Workshops
  • Statistics Workshop
  • Meetings with professors in area of interest
3) Intellectual Development
    Interns will also work to hone their writing skills - a crucial aspect of research in psychology. Interns will meet professors/ psychologists from diverse backgrounds and career tracks that research many different areas of psychology (e.g. family life specialists). Interns will:
  • Complete literature reviews related to the research project and/or areas of interest
  • Attend weekly lab meetings to develop intern’s ability to digest and critically analyze empirical articles

Research Questions

Research in the Wilbourn Infant Lab at Duke focuses on language and cognitive development. Specifically, we are interested in how different cultural and economic backgrounds influence children's language learning. Interns in the lab will have the opportunity to focus on a research project examining one or more of the following questions:

Gesture & Language

  • How do infants use nonverbal communication (e.g., gestures, facial expression, etc.) before they are capable of speaking?
  • How does the use of nonverbal communication in the form of gesture or gesture-accompanied speech, facilitate early word learning ?
  • How do parents and caregivers interact with children both verbally and non-verbally and how does this influence children's language development?

Culture, Gesture, & Language

  • How does race/culture and gesture influence children's early vocabulary and language development?
  • What role do both culture and socioeconomic status play in how parents and caregivers interact with children both verbally and non-verbally and how does this influence children's later language development?

Socio-Cultural Influences on Language and Cognition

  • How does one's culture impact their communication style and perceptions of others' communications styles?
  • What is the relationship between emotions and word learning?
  • What do children's drawings reveal about their social and cognitive development?

Who can apply?

1) Students must be from one of the following underrepresented or minority groups: First generation college student, Black/African-American, Latino/Hispanic, Native American, Native Alaskan, Native Hawaiian, Native American Samoan/Guamanian, LGBTQ. If you are from an underrepresented or minority group not mentioned here, please contact us directly to determine your eligibility.

3) Previous research experience is preferred, though not required.

4) Applicants must be highly organized and reliable.

Dates & Time Commitment

The internship is a full-time commitment (40 hours/week; 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM), for the entire duration of the internship: May 15th through July 13th.

Stipend, Housing, & Travel

Interns will be provided with on-campus housing at Duke University. In addition to housing, interns will be provided with a stipend of $1500.00 to cover living expenses. Up to $400 in travel costs to and from Duke University will be covered.

How to apply:

All materials must be uploaded to our website:

1) A personal statement that outlines any previous reserach experience, your research interests, career goals, and motivation for wanting to intern in the Wilbourn Lab at Duke. Applicants should clearly outline which of the research questions outlined above they are most interested in focusing on during their internship. Statements should be no longer than two-pages, single-spaced.

2) Transcript (unofficial or official).

3) Resume or Vita (CV).

4) Letters of recommendation (preferably two, though one will be accepted). At least one letter must be from a professor. Recommenders must submit their letter using this link:

Applications submitted before March 15th will be given priority. We will continue accepting applications until the positions are filled.


Visit our lab webpage for more information about the Wilbourn Infant Lab at Duke:

For more information about completing a Personal Statement/Resume/Vita visit:

Specific questions about the internship can be emailed to:

Thank you and we look forward to receiving your application!

The Summer Research Internship for Underrepresented Students in Psychology at Duke University is funded by an NSF- Early Career Award awarded to Dr. Makeba Wilbourn. NSF-BCS-13-52672

 Summer Interns!