The Maternal Influence on Neurodevelopment (MIND) Lab at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC in Roanoke, VA, directed by Dr. Brittany Howell, aims to understand the biological pathways (e.g. specific breast milk components, the infant gut microbiome, etc.) through which mothers affect their infant's brain and behavioral development. We accomplish this by collecting several concurrent measures, including milk samples, infant fecal samples, measures of infant structural and functional brain development using MRI collected during natural sleep, and behavioral measures including parent-report and direct assessment in the lab.
The MIND Lab is looking for a Research Assistant to work primarily on research projects examining brain and behavioral development and specific components of breast milk. Typically, a Research Assistant supports a scientist in the performance of various recruitment, technical, and data collection activities for research or laboratory programs. This role will serve as part of the research team working collaboratively and independently to collect and interpret human subject data for research projects. Laboratory and research support responsibilities range from entry- to advanced-level.
The duties of the role will include but may not be limited to the following:
- Making significant contributions to the projects assigned and the achievement of the project's research goals.
- Recruiting and screening families to participate in a range of research studies examining infant brain and behavioral development.
- Scheduling and confirming appointments for participant research study visits.
- Collecting and entering data from research participants per approved protocols, standard operating procedures, and experiment instructions.
- Administering assessments and structured interviews, collecting breast milk, saliva, and/or stool specimens, and performing on-site analyses during subject study visits, all according to research protocols.
- Collecting MRI images of infants during natural sleep to assess brain development according to research protocols.
- Research record keeping and subject payments.
- Maintenance of office and laboratory supplies inventory.
- Maintaining accurate and confidential records used for conducting and monitoring multiple studies.
- Help to write and maintaining compliance with IRB protocols.
- Conducting literature searches to gather background information for use by the Principal Investigator (PI) and other research team members in developing and evaluating research protocols and grant applications.
- Participating in research team meetings to report on research progress, improve data collection processes, assist with problem solving, and address protocol issues that arise during the course of research studies.
- Other duties as assigned.
- BA/BS in psychology, biology, neuroscience, or related field, and/or the equivalent level of training and experience.
- Demonstrated experience working with infants and their families.
- Demonstrated organizational skills or experience with data management.
- Desire to succeed in a fast-paced research environment with multiple duties.
- Demonstrated attention to detail, organizational skills, and excellent written and oral communication skills.
- Ability to maintain a high level of confidentiality and professionalism.
- Experience in one or more of the following research areas: neuroscience, psychology, biology, or human nutrition.
- Experience with basic laboratory protocols including proper handling of subject specimens, data collection, subject recruitment, infant behavioral assessments (e.g. the Mullen Scales of Early Learning, etc.), and data management.
- Experience with extraction of nucleic acids and processing biological samples (e.g. centrifugation, fractionating, etc.).
- Proficiency with REDCAP, Qualtrics, or similar survey tools and/or experience with statistical analysis.
The successful Candidate will be required to have a criminal conviction check
About Virginia Tech
Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech pushes the boundaries of knowledge by taking a hands-on, transdisciplinary approach to preparing scholars to be leaders and problem-solvers. A comprehensive land-grant institution that enhances the quality of life in Virginia and throughout the world, Virginia Tech is an inclusive community dedicated to knowledge, discovery, and creativity. The university offers more than 280 majors to a diverse enrollment of more than 36,000 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in eight undergraduate colleges, a school of medicine, a veterinary medicine college, Graduate School, and Honors College. The university has a significant presence across Virginia, including the Innovation Campus in Northern Virginia; the Health Sciences and Technology Campus in Roanoke; sites in Newport News and Richmond; and numerous Extension offices and research centers. A leading global research institution, Virginia Tech conducts more than $500 million in research annually.
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