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Visiting Undergraduate Research

The Cognitive Science Program at Indiana University, Bloomington invites upper-level undergraduate students and students who are graduating from college to apply to the Cognitive Science Visiting Undergraduate Program.

The program is designed to give students interested in Cognitive Science an opportunity to design and conduct their own research while working closely with a faculty mentor, at the top Cognitive Science Program in the country, for a full academic year.

Students selected for the program may enroll in up to 17 credits per semester, but will be expected to devote a minimum of 6 credit hours per semester to research approved by the Cognitive Science Program. Students will also have the option to enroll in our outstanding undergraduate courses. The Cognitive Science Undergraduate Program stresses skills acquisition, and aims to foster the abilities that make students into scientists.

The program can provide the following important opportunities and experiences:
  • Improve your chances of being accepted to a top graduate program
  • Build your CV with invaluable lab research experience not available at your home institution
  • Design your own research projects
  • Work closely with a faculty mentor
  • Participate in symposia and colloquia with IU's distinguished and highly accomplished Cognitive Science faculty
  • Learn how to prepare and submit research for publication

Students applying to the Visiting Undergraduate Program must meet the following requirements to be considered for admission:
  • Have junior or senior class standing (in exceptional cases, fellowships may be awarded to students with sophomore standing, but such applications are not encouraged).
  • A minimum GPA of 3.3
  • A background in computer science, mathematics, neuroscience, philosophy, or psychology, or some combination thereof.

Students who are accepted to the program will receive an out-of-state tuition waiver. Students will be responsible for the cost of in-state tuition and fees (approximately $8,000 for the year) and the cost of room and board.

To apply, students must submit an application form and materials checklist. In addition students must submit a 1-2 page personal statement describing the research they would like to pursue; identifying, if possible, the IU faculty member(s) with whom they would like to do this research; CV; Official Transcript; SAT or GRE scores and three letters of recommendation. The letters of recommendation can be sent through ground mail or directly emailed to

Students who are invited to participate will receive an application for admission to Indiana University. The application must be completed and returned to the Office of Admissions. Visiting Undergraduate Research Fellows must be accepted to Indiana University in order to participate in the program.

Students accepted to the program will be classified as transfer students for the year that they are in residence at IU. The accepted student's course schedule must be approved (prior to course registration) by the student's Cognitive Science faculty mentor and the Cognitive Science Undergraduate Academic Advisor ( ). The above information should be submitted to:

Cognitive Science Program
Eigenmann, Room 819
Indiana University
1900 E. 10th Street
Bloomington, IN. 47406-7512

The application deadline for the Fall of a given year is March 1 of that year. For example, the deadline for the 2020-2021 academic year is March 1, 2020.

Current Recipients

Name Year Home Institution Advisor(s)
Belen Rogers 2018-2019 Mount St. Mary's University Dr. Peter Todd

Previous Recipients

Name Year Home Institution Advisor(s)
Zachary Chacko 2014-2015 Michigan State University Mary Murphy
Alexandra Smith 2013-2014 Earlham College Jonathon Crystal
Jesse Squires 2012-2013 University of Evansville Randall Beer, Colin Allen
Samuel Zorowitz 2012-2013 Johns Hopkins University John K. Kruschke, Colin Allen
Shoshana Berleant 2011-2012 Ohio State University Sandra Kuebler
Andrew Nordstrom 2010-2011 University of Wisconsin-Stout Robert Potter
Shane Reuter 2009-2010 The University of Evansville Jonathan Weinberg
Rikki Weger 2008 - 2009 The University of Evansville Ed Hirt
William David Brinda 2007 - 2008 Tulane University Larry Yaeger
Elton Joe 2006 - 2007 Hampshire College Peter Todd
Colin Allen
Virgil Griffith 2005 - 2006 University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa Larry Yaeger


The Visiting Undergraduate Research Fellowship was the perfect step for me to take after graduating from undergraduate career. My experience with this program has been extremely rewarding for my academic career. Working with Dr. Mary Murphy in her Mind & Identity in Context Lab has really helped me expand my research skills as I worked on the Friendship Network Study. Furthermore, I got the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Victor Quintanilla on his Immigrant Labeling project. I was able to attend the SPI Conference at Purdue this year with my lab and learn about different research in the area of social psychology. My plan is to continue working with my advisors over the summer and assist in writing up papers for these projects. This fellowship also enabled me to take graduate classes and experience how these courses operate firsthand. There was an adjustment period, but I found these classes to be extremely enjoyable. My research and course experience has me looking forward to applying for graduate school in the future.

The city of Bloomington is a great place and it was easy for me to adjust to living here. The bus system is very accessible and the SRSC is a fantastic facility for recreational activities. I went there to play basketball during my free time and got to meet some great people. Also, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from when you want to dine out and try different types of cuisine. I had a great time this past year and am truly grateful for the opportunity the VURF has given me.

Zachary Chacko, 2014-2015

I believe that the IUB Visiting Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Cognitive Science was the jumping off point for my career as a graduate student, starting fall 2014 in IUB Cognitive Psychology, PhD program. As a recipient of the COGS VURF fellowship, I was a member of the Comparative Cognition Lab and worked under the guidance of Dr. Jonathon Crystal. Throughout the fellowship, I was involved in a project investigating source memory in rats as well as using this model of memory in a collaboration project with Dr. Andrea Hohmann. Outside of the lab, I enrolled in graduate level courses through the Cognitive and Psychological and Brain Sciences departments. This experience allowed me to gain experience writing grant proposals as well as joining in on discussions with current graduate students from a variety of fields of study. To wrap up this year long experience, my mentor and I are traveling to a conference in Denmark where I will be able to present my research.

Bloomington is a cozy but lively city, filled with more international cuisine options than I could visit in a single year. I spent my evenings and weekends visiting the opera through the Jacobs School of Music, playing on the IU Quidditch Team, dancing with the Ritmos Salsa club, and shopping at the farmer’s market. Overall, I was so happy with my experience with the VURF program and as a member of the Comparative Cognition Lab, that I have chosen to continue my work here as a graduate student. This program is a great resource for students, like me, who came from small colleges and were not exposed to a professional research lab environment during their undergraduate years.

Alexandra Smith, 2013-2014

The IU VURF has been a defining and extremely rewarding experience for my undergratuate career and education as a whole. I had the opportunity to work very closely with three distinguished professors in cognitive science on very diverse projects from evolutionary robotics to the InPhO project, all of which furthered my knowledge in very different and intriguing areas of cognitive science and philosophy, as well as utilizing and further developing my programming skills. I enjoyed my time so much this year that I stayed over the summer and continued research with my advisors and I plan to continue to stay in touch with them to collaborate on these projects.

I was unsure if I wanted to attend grad school or go to industry, and the VURF absolutely gave me the experience I needed to decide what was right for me. No matter what your goals are after graduating, I would highly reccommend this program to any cognitive science student. Also, Bloomington is a great college town. You can walk almost anywhere in 10-15 minutes, the buses are great and easy to navigate, there are dozens of amazing restaurants with lots of vegan/vegetarian options, and there's always something fun to do!

Jesse Squires, 2012-2013

I can honestly say that the IU VURF has been the most rewarding experience of my undergraduate career. Some highlights include being taught by some of the most distinguished minds in cognitive science; attending innumerable presentations on cutting-edge research both here at IU and internationally; and acquiring many new and invaluable skills, including Bayesian data analysis, programming for experimental design, and large-scale information visualization. Most importantly though, I have spent the year working closely under two incredible, supportive advisors on a number of exciting research projects. In fact, under their guidance, I am now conducting my very own experiments!

"Of course, it's not all just about work. Bloomington is a lively and gorgeous city with a serious penchant for fine arts and international cuisine. By bike or bus, it is easy to get out and enjoy great music at any of the many venues on- or off-campus; the best in film at IU's own cinema (tickets are often free!); and then go grab a bite to eat at one of the literally hundreds of fantastic restaurants around town. As excited as I am to head back home, I'll never forget the experiences I've had this year as a Hoosier!

Sam Zorowitz, 2012-2013

"The Visiting Undergraduate Research Fellowship was a great experience. I met with my advisor several times a week, participated in several empirical projects, and viewed numerous lectures by top cognitive scientists from IU, including Nobel Prize-winner Elinor Ostrom, and other universities across the country.

I took several very interesting courses but the bulk of my time was devoted to research with my advisor, Dr. Jonathan Weinberg, and members of his Experimental Epistemology Lab. Throughout the fellowship, I was involved in four research projects investigating the use of heuristics in philosophical intuitions, contrastivist theories of knowledge, the effects of presentation and emotionality in free will thought experiments, and the psychological mechanisms behind free will intuitions. My involvement spanned the entire spectrum of research from data collection to project development and revision.

This experience was invaluable to my education. I will be applying to graduate programs in Philosophy and Cognitive Science this fall, and ultimately, I hope to gain employment at a large, research-oriented university like IU. This fellowship prepared me for both. As mentioned, I worked primarily with Dr. Weinberg and his graduate advisees, and even spent a weekend with them at the Mid-South philosophy conference in Memphis; operating with them forced me to (or at least try to) perform like a graduate student. Through these interactions I experienced first-hand how to conduct cutting-edge research projects meant for professional publication, not an undergraduate course requirement. In addition to the subject-specific knowledge I gained in philosophy and cognitive science, through the fellowship I learned an incredible amount about the graduate school application process, graduate school itself, and the dynamics of the professions of cognitive science and philosophy- information about gaining employment after graduate school, gaining tenure, presenting at conferences, the publication process, etc. I took classes and conducted research not available at my home institution, and one of the projects will even be submitted for publication in a professional academic journal. The Cognitive Science community provided countless opportunities to learn through various colloquia, lectures, and workshops. Every serious cognitive science undergraduate should consider this fellowship."

Shane Reuter, 2009-2010