Research Opportunities

Research Assistantships

Inquire with your advisor or email Prof. Hammersmith ([email protected]) about research assistantships within the Sociology Department. Professors hire students to work on literature reviews, data collection, cleaning, and analysis, among other tasks!

Or, visit the Office of Undergraduate Research page about how to get started in undergraduate research.

“Intergenerational Transfers in Later Life: Does Family Structure Matter?”

Michelle Shane (Junior; BMS major with a Sociology minor)

Michelle has collaborated on research with Professor Hammersmith since Summer of 2021. Michelle's primary responsibilities include:

  • Literature collection, review, and synthesis
  • Data cleaning, organization, and coding using Stata software 
  • Project idea brainstorming
Undergraduate researchers find mentorship through independent projects Spotlight

Undergraduate researchers find mentorship through independent projects

Undergraduate research is a key component of an empowered education at Grand Valley, as it provides students with opportunities to build skills and knowledge in their disciplines that will help them succeed in their future careers.

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OURS Programs and McNair Research

The Office of Undergraduate Research (OURS) offers several academic year and summer programs for students to complete their own independent research, under the guidance of an advisor. Check out these opportunities here

GVSU also offers to opportunity to apply to be a McNair Scholar. The GVSU McNair Scholars Program provides support to first generation students with significant financial need, or members of racial and ethnic groups that are traditionally underrepresented in careers that require Ph.Ds. The goal of the program is to provide students support in undergraduate research, graduate school preparation, and the graduate school application process. Learn more about how to apply here

Recent Projects by McNair Scholars within Sociology: 

Louis Cousino, Summer 2023: "Understanding Incoming, First-generation College Students' Expectations of College"

Ariel Jackson, Summer 2023: "Split Lives Created by Divorce: Impact on Child Well-being"

Adrian Llanes, Summer 2022-2023: "TikTok as a Tool for the Labor Movement."

Amber Anderson, Summer 2021: "Social Capital, Networks, and the Effects on Higher Education" (through College of Education and Community Innovation)

Noemy Parra-Cano, Summer 2021: "Therapy Experience: Immigrant Latinos and Hispanics Experience in Grand Rapids"

Ezra Langlois, Summer 2020: "Perceptions of Manhood: Exploring the Relationship between Cisgender, Heterosexual Men and the Norms of Masculinity"

Hannah Pierson, Summer 2020: "The Link Between Nativity and Racial Infant Mortality Disparities" 

Sociology Major and McNair Scholar, Hannah Pierson Spotlight

Sociology Major and McNair Scholar, Hannah Pierson

Sociology Major and McNair Scholar, Hannah Pierson enters MSU's PhD Program in Sociology in Fall 2021. Her McNair research focused on infant mortality among women of differing race and educational backgrounds using Add Health data.

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SOC 399 and SOC 499

SOC 399 and SOC 499 offer students the ability to conduct independent sociological work.

  • In SOC 399, students typically write an ASA-style paper critically reviewing and synthesizing the sociological literature on a well-defined topic. Such an assignment involves considerable bibliographic work, database searching, reading, thinking, critiquing, synthesizing, and writing. The topic of study is usually one in which the faculty advisor has related expertise.
  • In SOC 499 students earn credit in SOC 499 engage in the design, conduct, and analysis of original research. The student's role in a project is usually well-defined in advance and will vary from one project to the next depending on the nature and the stage of the research. Can extend over one or two semesters, depending on project.


"Evaluating Possible Model Changes for the United States Healthcare System and Identifying Potential Obstacles to Change"

Brooke Hoyt (Senior; BMS Major with a SOC minor)

Brooke is completed a SOC 499 over two semesters. Brooke has designed her own project the explore the question: if the United States were to change its healthcare system, what system would be the best fit? Brooke's work included: 

  • Literature review
  • IRB approval
  • Study design
  • Data collection, cleaning, and analysis
  • Producing a research paper
  • Presenting at conferences, like the Michigan Sociological Association Annual Meeting


"Loneliness during the COVID-19 Pandemic"

Rebecca Clark (Senior; BMS Major with an English minor)

Rebecca is completing a SOC 499 over two semesters. Rebecca has designed her own study to examine loneliness and social isolation among older adults in West Michigan during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her research has included:

  • Literature review
  • IRB approval
  • Study design
  • Data collection, cleaning, and analysis
  • Producing a research paper
  • Presenting at conferences and in the community


Social Science Lab

The Social Science Lab (SSL) is a place for students and faculty to engage in social science research, located in the Sociology Department. The space can be reserved for student use for classes, research projects, and more. 

Visit the Social Science Lab page to learn more about faculty research associated with the SSL!

Social Science Lab Research Assistants and Projects

Rylie Dorman (Senior; NRM major, ENS minor)

Rylie was awarded a Student Summer Scholars grant in Summer 2021 to conduct a survey about impressions of the White Lake restoration and what residents’ relationships with this once-polluted lake environment are like today. Rylie’s primary responsibilities include:

  • Electronic survey design using Qualtrics software
  • Mail preparation and processing
  • Data entry, cleaning, and analysis using SPSS software
  • Document design using Canva and Adobe InDesign software


Jacob Grimes (Graduate, W22; GPY/ENS major)

Jake assisted Professor Buday with conducting watershed stakeholder surveys from Fall – Winter 2021 and used survey data to conduct an independent study about communication of conservation management practices. Jake’s primary responsibilities included:

  • Mail preparation and processing
  • Data entry, cleaning, and analysis using SPSS software
  • Report preparation using Microsoft software


Page last modified December 20, 2023