John Cabot University: the Academic Experience

For-Credit Research Assistantship

Students undertaking a for-credit research assistantship have an opportunity to deepen their research skills, while sustaining a more advanced research project in a specific disciplinary area. Research assistants may earn one unit of academic credit (on a P/NP basis) for the completion of at least 45 hours of work.


To place a call for research assistance during a particular semester, faculty members submit an application to the Dean's Office by the deadline communicated to them by Faculty Support. If approved, JCU degree-seeking students are notified of the call, and those interested fill in the online Student Research Assistant Application Form, attaching copies of their CV and statement of interest. To be eligible for a for-credit research assistantship, students must be in good academic standing with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. Students on academic probation cannot apply.

The sponsoring professor determines which eligible students may take on the position (it is possible to have more than one), directly by approving each request generated by the online form. 

Following the sponsoring professor’s approval, the student’s request is processed by the relevant offices, and both the professor and the student are notified of the outcome of the application.

Faculty Call for Research Assistant Application


Students interested in a for-credit research position should review the calls for research assistance, posted below and communicated to all degree-seeking students via JCU email.

To apply for a specific position, fill in the Student Research Assistant Application Form, and attach a CV and a 1-page statement of interest.

If selected, you will receive a confirmation email from the Registrar’s office and the Center for Career Services will be in touch with you to arrange a meeting. Provided you fulfil all the requirements, your application will then be finalized by the Registrar’s office. You and the sponsoring professor will be notified of the outcome of each step of the process.

For-credit research assistantships cannot be used to fulfill general distribution requirements, or as Major Electives, or towards the fulfillment of Minor requirements; they can only be taken as general electives. Students can take a maximum of three for-credit assistantships within the 120 credit graduation requirement. They must complete at least 90% of their assistantship work by the end of the semester in which they are registered in order to receive a passing grade.

Please note:

  • You need to be enrolled at JCU in-presence to be considered for a research assistantship
  • Non-EU students cannot work more than 20 hours per week; please consider this when applying
  • Per the Resident Assistant program, students working as Residence Assistants (either EU or non-EU) will not be considered
  • Research Assistantships cannot be performed at the same time as For Credit Internships.


To apply for a for-credit research assistantship fill out the Student Research Assistant Application Form.

Academic Field: Any (Focus on Education)
Research Topic: Student Centered Learning in a Liberal Arts University  

Brief description of project and RA duties: The aim of the project is to investigate student centered learning and find possible links to learning in a Liberal Arts environment.  

Sponsoring Professor: Khaison Duong [email protected]  

Semester of assistantship: FALL 2022  

Research assistant’s regular duties: 
-read and summarize findings 
-keep a bibliography 
-revise work already done

The research assistant will write a literature review. I will guide the RA though the inquiry process and finding of sources. We will together develop a plan to investigate Student Centered Learning and how it relates or links to learning in a Liberal Arts university.

Academic Field: Art History  
Research Topic: The hand gesture of the male attendant in Giotto's fresco of "The Flight into Egypt" (Scrovegni Chapel, Padova)  

Brief description of project and RA duties: The project seeks to assign specific meaning to the curious hand gesture of the male attendant, and the related gaze of the Christ Child, in Giotto's "Flight into Egypt" (Scrovegni Chapel, Padova). The gesture may be related to the withered hand of Salome (the midwife present at Christ's birth), which was cured by the first miracle performed by Christ on earth. As such, the project will build on the work of art historian Guerrino Lovato as published in "La levatrice incredula nella leggenda della natività." Reading knowledge of both Italian and English is required.  

Sponsoring Professor: David Castronuovo [email protected]  

Semester of assistantship: FALL 2022  

Research assistant’s regular duties: The assistant will search for all sources that describe the fresco and seek any references to the hand gesture of the male attendant. The assistant will search for comparable hand gestures in representations by other artists of the "Flight into Egypt." The assistant will search all relevant print and electronic sources.    
The assistant will make a written report on possible meanings that can be assigned to the attendant's hand gesture in Giotto's fresco, and will report on whether the gesture is unique, or can be found in representations of the same scene by other artists. The assistant will report on whether or not the gesture is related to the miracle of the midwife's hand. We will seek all relevant sources, in print and in electronic form.  We will consult with colleagues for suggestions on how to make an exhaustive search of the topic.  The researcher will help the assistant put this report into article form, with the goal of submitting the article for publication.  

Academic Field: Communications and Media Studies  
Research Topic: Media and the Environment

Brief description of project and RA duties: Researching the relationship between media, environment and climate change The purpose of this research is to gather and organize materials related to media and the environment and climate, and to organize them for a web resource.  

Sponsoring Professor: Antonio Lopez [email protected]  

Semester of assistantship: FALL 2022

Research assistant’s regular duties: The student will perform a variety of tasks for the professor to assist him in researching and creating resources for an ecomedia literacy resource hub. In addition to basic research tasks, the student will learn bibliography management software and the digital humanities tool, Padlet. The student and professor will set fixed hours during the week, but most research may be done independently.  

The student is expected to work 3.5 hours a week on the tasks outlined below. 
Research tasks: 
• Organize media texts related to media and the environment 
• Research ecological footprint of the technological gadget production process 
• Research ecological footprint of social networks 
• Track down journal articles and books, and make interlibrary loan requests identified by the professor 
• Write short summaries of specific research tasks

Administrative tasks: 
• Make entries into bibliographical management software 
• Proofread and edit bibliographical entries 
• Organize and catalog media resources 
• Upload resources to Padlet and write brief descriptions 
• Write short summaries of Web pages

Skills to be acquired 
• Learn how to research media and climate change using JCU databases 
• Learn how to assess validity and credibility of sources 
• Learn how to use Zotereo (bibliographical management software) 
• Learn how to use Padlet

The student is expected to keep a research diary throughout the semester. At the end of the semester the student will write a short summary (two pages) of tasks completed and what was learned during the assistantship. The student will learn important academic research skills and will develop practical skills for how to manage complex bibliographies with database management tools. The professor will also direct the assistant to important background materials in order understand the nature of the research project.  

Academic Field: Communications, Marketing, and Business Administration
Research Topic: Film production company operations

Brief description of project and RA duties: The leading professor, Jenn Lindsay, is a social scientist and a documentary filmmaker. Presently she is in various stages of production and post-production of several different documentary film projects. Students in digital video production, marketing and business administration fields are invited to assist with various dimensions of this film initiative. Production assistants will help with filming, editing, writing, and designing content; marketing assistants will help with research, writing articles on the indie film industry and diversity in media, and branding activities; and business strategy assistants will help with the day-to-day demands of indie film business, ranging from finance, project management, sales strategy, and company direction.

Sponsoring Professor: Jenn Lindsay [email protected]

Semester of assistantship: FALL 2022  

Research assistant’s regular duties: After an initial orientation period to help the students understand the film initiative, assistant(s) shall meet with the professor and in teams at least two times weekly to discuss assignments and work progress. Research assistants will be assigned tasks according to their interests and strengths, and work collaboratively with other team members on a regular basis.  

Assistants in every field will deliver 1-2 presentations during the semester on topics relevant to the indie film industry. Past topics have been fair use of copyrighted materials, the power of storytelling, film financing, co-working spaces in Rome, how to do a competitor analysis, etc. " "Digital video production assistants will be assigned to some of the following tasks: development, production and post-production on e-courses about indie film and social diversity issues; the writer’s team for a proposed 10-episode docudrama series; participating in feedback sessions for your own and other people’s edited work; and assisting in the writing and design of Learning Guides to accompany several documentary films.  

Creative marketing assistants will be assigned to some of the following tasks: writing articles on indie film and social diversity for the film initiative’s website; social media content creation and management; assistance with grant writing; website updates; SEO of website content; market research on competition and potential audiences; design of marketing materials; and more.  

Business strategy assistants will be assigned to some of the following tasks: the finance team; assistance with grant writing; developing pitch decks for the film initiative; weekly reporting on indie film biz matters; project management, CRM, and file sharing structures; researching investment scenarios; assisting with sales and distribution strategy.  

Deadlines will be assigned according to task. " Professor Jenn Lindsay has been working in documentary, feature and narrative film and TV production for over 15 years, contributing to projects at MTV, the Sundance Channel, Swede Films, and various independent post-production facilities. She has completed 7 feature-length or short documentaries with her own production company So Fare Films and served as the Staff Documentarian at the Center for Mind and Culture for five years. She has recently received a grant to produce and direct Ikhaya, a documentary film about the South African artists Giggs Kgole and his upcoming art exhibition in Monte Carlo. She previously received filmmaking grants funding the production of The Modeling Religion Project, Simulating Religion and Minding Shadows; presently she needs post-production assistance in order to bring these ambitious projects into a new phase. Assistants for the film initiative will engage a broad array of production, marketing and business skills in order to bring these projects closer to a new cut. Not only will the opportunity offer school credit and a substantial professional credit on a curriculum vitae, but the student will be trained in a rigorous workflow toward a clear deliverable: launching a number of professional-grade documentary projects to the film festival circuit. This opportunity equates to a professional internship, and, given the proximity assistant(s) will have with the filmmaker, also a mentorship and deeper glimpse into the world of professional documentary filmmaking. Past assistants have reported skill development in the following areas: presentations skills, creativity and time management, communication and teamwork skills, problem-solving, organizational skills, research, and seeing how the indie film biz really works.   

Academic Field: Computer Science 
Research Topic: Computer Science 

Brief description of project and RA duties: Development of a Python program to support Academic advising at JCU "The objective of this project is to design and implement a Python program to support Academic advising at JCU, which is meant to be used by the JCU Registrar’s office. The input to the program is a list of courses attended by a student, each equipped with all relevant information; this list could be directly downloaded from the database or provided to the program in a different format.  

Two main goals of the project have been identified. First, the program should produce a report of the student’s standing with respect to the graduation requirements. This may include the computation of the number of credits and GPA, and an automatic check of Proficiency, General Distribution, and Major-specific requirements. Second, the program should create a file with the student’s graduation checklist, filled with the courses already taken by the student.

Based on the number of students appointed for the project, one or both of these goals may be selected for implementation. The ideal number of assistants for the project is 2, but any number between 1 and 4 would work, with a possible adjustment of the specific goals.  

Together with the technical work on the Python code, which represents the main duty within this project, the Research Assistant(s) will be asked to interface with the Registrar Office to define the details of the program specifications, simulating the typical process of interaction with a customer. "  

Sponsoring Professor: Patrizio Angelini [email protected]  

Semester of assistantship: FALL 2022  

Research assistant’s regular duties: The project will be structured according to the typical phases of a software engineering process: analysis, design, implementation.

Analysis: the Research Assistant(s) will first interview JCU Registrar office personnel to understand the requirements and define the specific goals of the project.  

Design: Based on the outcome of this analysis, the Research Assistant(s) will design the architectural structure of the program, with its main components and their interactions.  

Implementation: This phase consists of the actual implementation in Python of the program designed in the previous phase and represents the main activity in terms of time (expected 60-70% of the total project time). Each of the three phases will require the production of a corresponding deliverable. For the analysis, a written report of the interview and the resulting list of identified requirements. For the design, a diagram describing the program architecture and a list of functionalities. For the implementation, the actual program, and its written documentation. The Faculty will act as a sort of project manager, supervising all the three phases and meeting with the Research Assistant(s) on a weekly basis during the entire development of the project. Occasionally, the Faculty will also contribute to the technical aspects.

The guidance of the Faculty will support the student(s) in improving the soft and hard skills that are naturally involved in this project, which include communication, team-work, and analytical and technical skills. 

Academic Field: Economics
Research Topic: Economics

Brief description of project and RA duties: Competition, industry and productivity. Working with data and organizing Excel spread sheets. Looking for papers.  

Sponsoring Professor: Yasmina Rim Limam [email protected]

Semester of assistantship: FALL 2022  

Research assistant’s regular duties: Organizing large data sets into excel spread sheets, data coding. Searching for articles and papers on particular topics. Prepare the data in its final format to be used for empirical analysis (Excel file). Provide a list of references and contribute with small writing tasks.  

The student will work closely with the project. The student will closely work with data.  

Academic Field: Economics and Law  
Research Topic: Maternity leave policies and labor market discrimination  

Brief description of project and RA duties: We explore persistent gender discrimination by examining maternity leave polices and how they may impact the survival rate of small, knowledge intensive firms when the human capital for operations has a high proportion of value added. To the extent firms are risk-averse, women of child-bearing age would not be hired or promoted to more senior high skilled knowledge intensive positions in small firms. The outcome would contribute to gender discrimination in hiring which would result in more limited accumulation of human capital (experience) of female workers throughout their careers.  

Countries with greater protection for maternity leave and a larger proportion of SME’s in knowledge intensive sectors, would be expected to have greater gender discrimination than those who do not.  

The Research Assistant is expected to do background research on the history of maternity leave policies in the OECD and develop a classification rubric regarding their key characteristics. This can then be used to establish country groups that will be the unit of analysis for the discrimination study.  

Sponsoring Professor: Mary Merva [email protected]

Semester of assistantship: FALL 2022  

Research assistant’s regular duties: The student is expected to review the different maternity leave policies in the OECD countries and develop a classification methodology regarding their operational differences (e.g., duration). At the end of the semester, the student should present a list of OECD countries and a brief summary of the characteristics of their maternity leave policies along with a classification rubric (e.g., duration 90 days, 365 days, etc.) The professor will work with the student to learn about the different policies and begin to develop classification rubrics that would makes sense of the overall study of gender discrimination.   

Academic Field: Entrepreneurship  
Research Topic: Can the Subscription Box Model Support Social Entrepreneurship?  

Brief description of project and RA duties: The project explores the subscription box model first developed by two entrepreneurs who founded BirchBox, and which became main stream in the United States, in order to explore the applicability of the model to social entrepreneurship, i.e. entrepreneurial ventures with a strong mission component.

The RA can choose among four options for research: 
1. Conduct a literature review of the subscription box model in the US.  
2. Conduct a literature review of the subscription box model in Italy (and in Europe if it becomes relevant). Knowledge of Italian would be very helpful. 
3. Conduct a literature review of the subscription box model applied to social entrepreneurship. 
4. Assist the professor in writing a teaching case on the subject, using an existing social venture. This will involve developing a case structure, drafting a list of interview questions, and interviewing the founders of the social venture as well as other players. 

Sponsoring Professor: Silvia Carnini Pulino [email protected]

Semester of assistantship: FALL 2022  

Research assistant’s regular duties: Depending on the subproject selected, the RA will be required to search databases and other sources for academic writings on the topic, map out the subscription box landscape (who are the players, in what industries, what are the key success factors, etc), interview subjects and contribute to the writing of the paper or case.  
In all of the subprojects the final output will be a written paper or case. The researcher will meet with the RA regularly, providing direction in terms of the sources to investigate and how to structure the paper.  

Academic Field: History   
Research Topic: Iran-US relations

Brief description of project and RA duties: Supervise undergraduate students working on the research project, maintaining records on assignment completion, acting as liaison/mediator between the undergraduate students and the sponsoring professor.  

Sponsoring Professor: Farian Sabahi [email protected] AND [email protected]  

Semester of assistantship: FALL 2022  

Research assistant’s regular duties: Searching and interviewing US diplomats, hostages (1979-81), military men and peace corps employed in Iran before the taking over of the American Embassy (1979). Interviews must be recorded (audio) and written down. The questions will be set before, together with the professor, depending on the interviewee's profile. The professor will provide the historical framework, as well as the basic notions of the methodology of Oral History.   

Academic Field: International Law  
Research Topic: Child, Early and Forced Marriage in International Law

Brief description of project and RA duties: Child, early and forced marriages are serious human rights abuses. International law deals with the issue only incidentally and there’s not yet an officially agreed definition of ‘child, early and forced marriage’. Both article 16.2 of the 1979 United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and Article 2 of the 1962 United Nations Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages require States Parties to set a minimum age for marriages in their legislation but leave them free to decide the age, which is recommended to be 18 years of age. The project is aimed at understanding whether relevant customary rules of international law exist in the field of child, early and forced marriage and how eventually the proposal of a new binding treaty might eliminate the existing legal loopholes. The research assistant(s) will help in up-dating and finalizing a collection of relevant States’ legislation as well as international caselaw in this field that was started by previous research assistants.  

Sponsoring Professor: Silvia Scarpa [email protected]  

Semester of assistantship: FALL 2022  

Research assistant’s regular duties: The research assistant will conduct research in relevant legal databases (such as HeinOnline, JSTOR and Nexis Uni) as well as on relevant websites of academic institutions, international and non-governmental organizations working in the field of child, early and forced marriages. The research assistant will have to update a database including information on all States of the world that has already been created by previous research assistants, to create folders with relevant academic work on the topic and with United Nations General Assembly's Resolutions and to produce a final short paper assessing the latter ones. The instructor will guide the research assistant throughout the research process, helping the student in refining their research and legal writing skills in the field of international law.  

Academic Field: Marketing  
Research Topic: Estimation model for healthcare costs in malaria vaccines   

Brief description of project and RA duties: The Research Assistant will participate in a broader research project about the estimation of the benefits and costs of the uptake of the new vaccine against malaria RTS/AS01 combined with Chemo-prevention in the rural province of Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo. The estimation model will start with the assessment of the malaria diffusion and will evaluate the potential effects of the new vaccine alone and in combination with Chemo-prevention treatment.  

Sponsoring Professor: Alessandro Signorini [email protected]  

Semester of assistantship: FALL 2022  

Research assistant’s regular duties: The Research Assistant will participate to the call for grants for the specific project and will help in the literature review for the paper to publish  
A formal presentation summarizing the tasks accomplished during the Research Assistantship. The project is part of the ongoing work of a research unit specialized in market access and health technology assessment

Academic Field: Marketing and consumer behavior  
Research Topic: Live stream selling  

Brief description of project and RA duties: The research assistant will perform research activities within the context of retailing and purchase behavior. The research assistant will be asked to perform:
- articles search 
- annotation of livestream selling videos 

Sponsoring Professor: Stefania Farace [email protected]  

Semester of assistantship: FALL 2022

Research assistant’s regular duties: The research assistant will search articles within the fields of personal selling and multimodal marketing content. Furthermore, s/he will annotate real livestream selling videos based on the conceptual development provided by the mentor. "Two deliverables are expected: 
1) list of articles resulting from the search and summary table 
2) database of annotated videos"  

The faculty researcher will supervise the student research assistant in every step by providing the tools and instrument to perform correctly the articles search and the livestream video annotation. The research assistant will learn 1) how to search articles relevant to the topic of interest using journal databases (e.g., Google Scholar), 2) how to select reliable and robust research, 3) how to summarize research work in a systematic way, 4) how secondary data (i.e., real videos) can answer research questions.  

Academic Field: Media Studies  
Research Topic: Media and the night  

Brief description of project and RA duties: Prof. Diamanti is working on a research project on Media & the Night (see short project description). She is particularly focusing on two aspects: 1) the creation of nocturnal imagery by emerging technologies adapted to the dark hours, such as infrared cameras, thermal imaging, and new documentary techniques both on streaming platforms and emergent/alternative media (an example of this is the Netflix documentary Night on Earth); 2) the particular place the acoustic aspect of media plays at night, by studying the sonic dimensions of media: from streamed concerts and night DJ sets, to experimental soundscapes and sound mapping at night, to radio shows and podcasts. Research assistants will help in cataloguing such media forms, present them, as well as supporting it with academic sources (literature review).  

Sponsoring Professor: Eleonora Diamanti [email protected]  

Semester of assistantship: FALL 2022  

Research assistant’s regular duties: 
1) Create a database/catalogue of the assigned media (documentaries, films, podcasts, radio shows, etc.). 
2.1) Research and select academic articles relevant to the assigned topic (visual culture and night) OR 
2.2) Research and select academic articles relevant to the assigned topic (sound studies and night); 
3) Produce a literature review on the assigned research topic; 
4) Provide a complete formatted bibliography; 
5) Provide feedback on the professor’s ongoing research.

By the end of the 45 hours of work, research assistant(s) will: 
1) Write a literature review of academic sources with a complete and properly formatted bibliography; 
2) Produce a media database in Excel format for media and the night." "This work will provide the student research assistant(s) with valuable “hands on” experience with: 
1) developing critical thinking in researching and selecting academic sources in media studies; 
2) developing writing skills in producing a literature review and formatting bibliographic references; 
3) creating a database on media/night;  
4) developing analytical tools to catalogue various forms of media.

Academic Field: Political and social science  
Research Topic: Social movements in Italy  

Brief description of project and RA duties: This project explores the relative successes and weaknesses of various social movements campaigning for legal reform and criminal justice in Italy. Research assistants will help the professor in identifying and summarizing the most useful theoretical approaches and collecting empirical data on specific case-studies. They will also be expected to participate in weekly meetings to discuss our collective progress.  

Sponsoring Professor: Isabella Clough Marinaro [email protected]  

Semester of assistantship: FALL 2022  

Research assistant’s regular duties: Research assistants will write up summaries of readings, collect reports and empirical data on specific social movements, possibly carry out interviews and help collate the information for easy retrieval in the future. They will also attend weekly meetings with the rest of the research team. Approximately 10 written summaries and collection/organization of data on at least one social movement during the course of the semester. The professor will give students examples of past reading summaries to guide their work and will provide feedback to train students on identifying and critiquing core theoretical arguments. She will also show students how to gather reliable data from primary sources, both written and through interviews.  

Academic Field: Psychology/Cognitive Neuroscience  
Research Topic: Creativity and Problem solving  

Brief description of project and RA duties: We are in search of motivated undergraduate RAs who will help contribute to our ever-growing body of research and will help out on a current project aimed to understand the neural and cognitive functioning of Creativity and problem-solving. You will work on one of the following projects: 
- Role of novelty on learning and Memory 
- Effects of novelty on creativity and problem solving 
- Developing a new scale on Socio-Cognitive Polarization

Sponsoring Professor: Carola Salvi [email protected]  

Semester of assistantship: FALL 2022  

Research assistant’s regular duties: 
- Help to do research on creativity and problem solving (bibliographic research, data analysis, etc)  
- Collaborate with the Psychology department in coordinating research and data analysis 
- Participate in weekly project-meetings

A final report of one page I will teach you how to analyze data, set up research projects, and write scientific papers. You will also learn a lot about creativity, Problem solving, and memory.  

Academic Field: Social Robotics
Research Topic: Social Robotics

Brief description of project and RA duties: The proposed experiments investigate the relationship between humans and machines in terms of trust. The research assistant duties would include literature review, preparation of the experiment, and data collection.

Semester of assistantship: Fall 2022

Sponsoring Professor: Merel Keijsers [email protected]