Research opportunities

Research@Honors encourages our undergraduate Honors students to engage in mentored research and creative projects. In pursuit of this mission, we are currently working with Wayne State faculty to identify existing or upcoming opportunities for our students to engage in quality research projects. Browse the projects listed below to see if a faculty member's project fits your interests, and continue to check this page for updates. Please only contact faculty members about the listed projects if you meet the required qualifications they have described.

If you are a faculty member at Wayne State and are planning or currently working on a research or creative project, please let us know how our students might get involved by completing the Faculty Survey of Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Available opportunities


Nanomedicines for Cancer

  • Faculty Member: Joshua Reineke
  • Email: reineke@wayne.edu
  • Phone: 313-577-3761
  • Department: Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Project Description: There are a few active projects in my lab in the area of nanomedicines for cancer: 1) lymph-targeted pulmonary delivery systems for the prevention and treatment of metastasis, 2) novel micelle formulations for pancreatic cancer, and 3) mathematical modeling and pharmacokinetic analysis of nanoparticles for targeted delivery.
  • Project Duration: Ongoing starting ASAP - Ongoing starting ASAP
  • Desired number of student researchers: Maximum of 2
  • Expected duration of student commitment: Two semesters
  • Expected weekly time commitment of undergraduate researcher: Between 10 and 15 hours per week
  • Description to tasks to be completed by undergraduate student researcher: First week or two will consist of shadowing and orientation to the lab. From there students will be paired with a graduate student or postdoc to assist in nanoparticle fabrication, characterization, cell culture studies, etc.
  • Required skills, coursework, or experience: Friendly personality, detail oriented and proactive.
  • Preferred skills, coursework, or experience: Basic chemistry (organic and inorganic), programming experience, cell culture understanding, immunology, and cancer biology. However, applicants without this experience, but with an interest in some of these areas are encouraged.
  • To be considered: Located in the Pharmacy building. Students must be willing to come to the medical campus for all lab work.

Formative student experience in a lecture format class

  • Faculty Member: Joshua Reineke
  • Email: reineke@wayne.edu
  • Phone: 313-577-3761
  • Department: Education
  • Project Description: Novel teaching techniques and assessments will be evaluated for application in large lecture format classroom environment.
  • Project Duration: Ongoing starting 08/26/13 - Ongoing
  • Desired number of student researchers: 1-3
  • Expected duration of student commitment: One semester
  • Expected weekly time commitment of undergraduate researcher: Between 2 and 5 hours per week
  • Description to tasks to be completed by undergraduate student researcher: Assisting in the preparation of lecture materials, collecting of surveys, assessment of survey data.
  • Required skills, coursework, or experience: High ethical standards, interest in education, detail oriented, courteous and patient personality.
  • Preferred skills, coursework, or experience: Interest in life sciences and physical sciences, good writing skills.
  • To be considered: Project is located in the Pharmacy building. Students must be willing to travel to medical campus to work on the project. Students will need to commit to some specific dates/times due to the nature of the project.

Baby on Board! WSU Early Parenting Study

  • Faculty Member: Dr. Carolyn Dayton
  • Email: cu4385@wayne.edu
  • Phone: 313-577-5254
  • Department: Social Work & Merrill Palmer
  • Project Description: This study will investigate the ways in which mothers and fathers in high risk contexts are psychologically approaching their preparation for parenting a new baby and the ways in which their biology and physiology influence their early parenting behaviors (pregnancy and early infancy). Data collection will include parental measures of physiological functioning (salivary cortisol, respiratory sinus arrhythmia), psychological (psychopathology, resilience) and contextual factors (violence and trauma exposure). Parental data will be collected in a developmental laboratory at the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute when mothers are pregnant. Parent and infant data will subsequently be collected at the same lab when infants are 4 months of age.
  • Project Duration: Ongoing - Ongoing
  • Desired number of student researchers: 20
  • Expected duration of student commitment: Two semesters
  • Expected weekly time commitment of undergraduate researcher: Between 5 and 10 hours per week
  • Description to tasks to be completed by undergraduate student researcher: Assist in recruitment activities at Detroit OB clinics. Assist with the running of family laboratory sessions.
  • Required skills, coursework, or experience: Eligible undergraduate students must have an interest in this area of research and demonstrate the ability to conduct oneself in a respectful and professional manner with vulnerable families. The ability to work independently and as a member of the larger research team is critical. GPA of 3.5 or above is preferred as is prior experience working with vulnerable children or families. Students must commit to working a minimum of 6 hours per week for two terms.
  • Preferred skills, coursework, or experience: Interest and/or experience in the area of Developmental Psychology, Clinical Psychology and/or Family Social Work.
  • To be considered: Options for qualified students are available to conduct a supervised directed study (for a grade) and to work with Dr. Dayton on an Honors thesis.

Chromatin Structure and Gene Regulation

  • Faculty Member: Dr. Lori Pile
  • Email: loripile@wayne.edu
  • Phone: 313-577-9104
  • Department: Biological Studies
  • Project Description: Our laboratory uses the model organism Drosophila melanogaster to study the role of chromatin in the regulation of gene expression. Students generally work in the area of genetics or molecular biology to address fundamental questions regarding gene regulation, cell proliferation and development.
  • Project Duration: Ongoing - Ongoing
  • Desired number of student researchers: 1-2 per semester
  • Expected duration of student commitment: Two semesters
  • Expected weekly time commitment of undergraduate researcher: Between 15 and 20 hours per week
  • Description to tasks to be completed by undergraduate student researcher: Undergraduate researchers generally conduct experiments under the direction of a research technician or graduate students. Specific experiments will be designed for each individual. Experiments include set up and analysis of fly genetic cross as well as carrying out molecular and cell biological studies. Students are expected to keep clear, up to date scientific notebooks and may be asked to present their research at lab meeting upon completion of the project.
  • Required skills, coursework, or experience: Honors genetics is preferred but not necessary.

Respiratory Plasticity in spinal cord injured mice

  • Faculty Member: Dr. Jason Mateika
  • Email: jmateika@med.wayne.edu
  • Phone: 313-576-4481
  • Department: Physiology
  • Project Description: We are exploring whether exposure to intermittent periods of hypoxia induces respiratory plasticity via release of the neuromodulator serotonin. We are also exploring if respiratory plasticity promotes recovery of respiratory muscle function in spinal cord injured animals.
  • Project Duration: Ongoing - Ongoing
  • Desired number of student researchers: 1
  • Expected duration of student commitment: Two semesters
  • Expected weekly time commitment of undergraduate researcher: More than 20 hours per week
  • Description to tasks to be completed by undergraduate student researcher: 1) monitor and care for mice, 2) complete surgical procedures on mice, 3) data collection, 4) data analysis, 5) poster preparation
  • Required skills, coursework, or experience: 1) An undergraduate biology major, 2) Interested in graduate work or medical school, 3) Sophomore or junior with a 3.7 or greater GPA, 4) Interested in pursuing the project for an extended period of time (i.e. 1 year or longer)

Evolutionary and conservation genetics of freshwater fishes

  • Faculty Member: Thomas Dowling
  • Email: cx9077@wayne.edu
  • Phone: 313-577-3020
  • Department: Biological sciences
  • Project Description: We utilize a variety of molecular methods (DNA sequencing, single nucleotide polymorphisms, microsatellites) to understand how biopersity is generated and maintained. Fishes are used as a model system because of a variety of characteristics.
  • Project Duration: 02/01/2014 - 12/31/2018
  • Desired number of student researchers: 1
  • Expected duration of student commitment: Longer than two semesters
  • Expected weekly time commitment of undergraduate researcher: Between 10 and 15 hours per week
  • Description to tasks to be completed by undergraduate student researcher: General lab tasks, DNA extraction, amplification, sequencing, genetic characterization.
  • Required skills, coursework, or experience: Basic experience in biology laboratory

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