Join the Lab!

We invite applications for 2 main types of position: undergraduates looking to gain research experience, and applications for graduate study (the MA and PhD programs). On occasion, we also advertise for paid Research Assistantships through the UBC careers page, but this page is not relevant to those positions.

We are mindful that undergraduate research opportunities and graduate admissions are both traditionally associated with various sources of privilege and inequalities that also affect academia more broadly. The Centre for Gambling Research is committed to improving diversity and inclusion in research. We will strive to create a research environment that is inclusive to all trainees, regardless of family background, gender, race, sexual orientation, age, physical health or disability.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities:

COVID update: prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we would typically host around 5 undergraduates in the lab each term, many of whom would work on projects testing participants in the lab. The pandemic, and the ongoing suspension of in person testing, has markedly reduced the number of research placements we can offer. Current projects mostly involve working with secondary datasets, online surveys, or literature-based projects, so in contacting the lab, please highlight any background skills such as coding, database management, or systematic search protocols.

The Centre typically hosts undergraduate Research Assistants working on projects for 1 or 2 terms, including COGS 402 research projects, Psychology Honours program projects, Directed Studies, and USRA/Quinn summer studentships. Although we take on some students in a purely voluntary capacity, our preference where possible is for more ‘formal’ positions where the student receives course credit, as this creates some structure, and clear expectations and endpoints for the project.

Starting in 2021, we will host some ‘Open House’ sessions for students interested in joining the lab, and we will then take on a number of students in the weeks following these sessions. The Open Houses may be held virtually over Zoom, or in person, depending on COVID-related restrictions — please email Dr Clark for details. Sessions are currently planned for: Friday 27 August 3-4pm, and Friday 10 December 3-4pm. These sessions are primarily intended for COGS 402 students, Directed Studies, and volunteer placements; students in the Psychology Honours program or applying for USRA/Quinn summer placements are welcome to attend these sessions but may also contact Dr Clark outside of the Open House schedule. Note the applications deadline for USRA/Quinn summer awards is in February.

If you are interested in joining the lab as an undergraduate RA, please consider the following:

  • We offer a range of projects that might involve working under the day-to-day supervision of a graduate student or post-doc, or that are supervised directly by Dr Clark. We typically expect a time commitment of 5-10 hours per week, and the research assistant should expect weekly or biweekly individual supervisions to check in on progress.
  • Most students joining the lab will have completed their second year, and taken courses including introductory psychology (Psyc 101 & 102) and research methods (e.g. Psyc 217 or 218). If you have taken (or are currently enrolled in) Dr Clark’s Psyc 335 class, do mention this in your contact message because this course provides an excellent foundation for a research placement.
  • Many projects will involve recruiting, screening, and testing of human participants, and some studies involve community participants. Strong interpersonal skills, and being punctual and reliable, are key requirements — but do not necessarily require prior research experience. We are mindful of the ‘Catch 22’ of obtaining a first placement for research experience; if you do not have prior research experience, there are plenty of other real-world skills that can be useful (e.g. coding or graphic design, or any jobs outside of your studies that involve ‘customer-facing’ roles). We also offer some projects involving data science, coding, or literature-based projects.
  • We try to match students to a project, based on a range of factors: their specific interests, any previous research experience, research techniques where they are looking to gain experience. Some of our projects involve psychophysiology measures like heart rate monitoring. In many instances, the student will join an existing project. We do take on some students who run experiments that they have designed themselves – these projects may start out on a voluntary basis – and these are mostly for higher-level students who may have taken Psyc 335 or worked in the lab in the past.
  • Students will need to complete TCPS2 training program in research ethics, before they can begin any research in the lab. If you already have a TCPS2 certificate, please email this to Dr Clark when you join the lab. Bear in mind that for new projects, the process of preparing and obtaining ethical (BREB) approval usually take at least 1 month, so this should be factored into the project timeline.
  • Students often contact the lab at the beginning of the Fall or Winter terms. By this point we have often already committed to our research assistants for that term. Plan ahead, and if you have flexibility in when you can start your project (e.g. Fall, Winter or Summer terms) then mention this in your email.

Directed Studies

A Directed Studies project is usually single term project that culminates in a 5,000 word report and are graded by the supervisor. The deadline for applying for a DS is the ‘course drop’ deadline for that term. We will agree on milestones through the term, e.g. dates for completion of the literature review and completion of data collection. Within CGR, a Directed Studies could be based on a collaborative project with a graduate student, if the undergraduate can forge their own research question. Students with a clear project idea of their own may also apply for Directed Studies, although such a project may often start out on a voluntary basis, and turn into a Directed Studies once feasibility and ethical permissions have been established.

Some example projects from 2020/2021:

Quinn summer studentship: “Understanding ‘breaking even’ in gambling behaviour”

Psychology Directed Studies: “Understanding the association between loot box engagement and problem gambling”

Psychology Honours project: “Transfer effects in humans: the replicability of Pavlovian-to-Instrumental Transfer procedures using aversive stimuli”

Psychology Directed Studies: “Disordered gambling and its relationship with financial trading: an online survey”

Applying:

If you would like to enquire about undergraduate research opportunities, please email luke.clark@psych.ubc.ca including a copy of your CV and a short description of why you are interested in research on gambling, and what you hope to gain from the placement. See example contact letter here.

Graduate applicants:

Prospective graduate students are encouraged to consult the UBC Psychology webpage on how to apply, entry requirements, and opportunities for funding (see below). For 2022 admissions, Dr Clark will consider applications to the Psychology (Cognitive Science) program, and is not requiring GRE scores. The Centre is not considering applicants to the Clinical Psychology program at the current time. We will consider applicants to the UBC Neuroscience program, but do bear in mind that we typically accept a maximum of one student per year, and the Psychology program has earlier deadlines and adjudication dates.

To consider whether the Centre for Gambling Research is likely to be a good fit for you, please think about the following:

  • Our students are motivated, enthusiastic, and dedicated, with a strong interest in gambling behaviour seen through the lens of psychology. Graduate research involves team-work, and requires strong interpersonal skills and an ability to receive and respond to feedback.
  • Our successful applicants typically have undergraduate backgrounds in Psychology. Successful applicants will typically have research experience in areas of psychology such as judgment and decision-making, cognitive neuroscience, or addictions research. We recognize that gambling is a small field and many applicants will not have prior experience in gambling per se, but a basic familiarity with the (Canadian) gambling landscape is a requirement.
  • Research at the Centre cuts across many aspects of gambling behaviour, including psychological and clinical aspects, but also broadening into data science, behavioural economics, public health.
  • Applicants will be expected to have reasonably strong technical skills, including statistics and programming. Students will be expected to have some background in scientific writing as well as oral presentation of research.

If you are planning to apply to graduate school under my supervision, please send a CV and brief description of your research interests, to luke.clark@psych.ubc.ca. As a first step, I will typically arrange a short call or in-person meeting (for applicants based in Vancouver). Shortlisted applicants will be invited for in-person interviews (typically in February) which will include meetings with other Faculty members in Psychology as well as meetings with current Graduate students in the lab.