Undergraduate Students

STRONG Kids 2 Research Project - Research Assistants

This transdisciplinary project will provide unique insights into how individual biology interacts with the family environment to promote healthy eating habits in young children. It is one of the first studies to take a longitudinal look at the interaction between biological and environmental factors in predicting eating habits, including milk and dairy consumption, from birth. The project is supported by the National Dairy Council with a $3M grant over 12 years. The study sample includes over 400 infants and their families located in small urban communities in central Illinois. Biological samples and height and weight measurements from infants and toddlers are collected at 6 weeks, 3, 12, 18, 24, 36 months and 4, 5, 6, and 7 years. Mothers are surveyed about weaning, dietary habits, household routines, children’s emotions, feeding styles, and milk and dairy consumption. Additional measure such as maternal height and weight are also being collected. The project is part of the larger STRONG Kids Program based at the Family Resiliency Center and housed in Doris Kelley Christopher Hall.  STRONG Kids 2 is built upon previous research with preschool aged children, documenting the relationship among genetic, child, and family factors in predicting BMI and dietary habits. 

Applications for these positions are now closed.

Job Description:

As a research assistant with the STRONG Kids 2 study, you will play an integral role in the study’s participant data collection as well as in data entry. This position will be part-time, for up to 10 hours a week. This position offers an hourly rate of $12 an hour.

The job responsibilities for this position include but are not limited to:

  • Conducting Home Visits
    • Travelling to participant’s homes (up to a 90 min drive) to collect data
    • Involves using a bio-electric impedance scale, measuring height and weight for mom and child, running a veggie meter analysis, conducting a pantry inventory, and picking up a stool and saliva sample.
  • Data Entry
    • Entering participant survey responses and anthropometric data
  • Participant Communication
    • Calling and emailing participants regarding their home visits, surveys, or other questions related to the study
  • Attending monthly lab meetings
  • Stool Kit and Saliva Kit distribution and sample collection
    • Creating stool kits/saliva kits and dropping them off at the Post Office
    • Collecting stool and saliva samples from participant homes and dropping them off at Bevier Hall
  • Other Office Task and projects as assigned


  • Applicant must have a valid driver’s license and must have a car on campus to drive to and from home visits.
  • Applicants must be available to be scheduled for at least 2 of the 3 following shifts:
    • Tuesdays 4-7 pm
    • Thursdays 4-7 pm
    • Wednesdays 5-8 pm
  • Applicants must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19
  • Attention to Detail
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Comfortable working with young children

STRONG Kids (HDFS 494) Research Course

This year-long supervised research course provides students with first-hand experience working as part of a research team and develops a working knowledge of transdisciplinary research theory and applications. Students are provided with an overview of research program issues; develop oral and written communication skills, data management skills, team-building skills, critical thinking skills, and professional work environment skills; training in mixed methods relevant to factors that contribute to child and family health; identify opportunities and barriers in transdisciplinary teamwork, and prepare a scientific presentation that reflects the knowledge of transdisciplinary science gained through working on actual research projects.

More information on the STRONG Kids Program can be found here

Student Feedback

"Working on STRONG Kids helped me understand some of the material I had been studying in my health statistics class this semester."

STRONG Kids undergraduate research assistant


"STRONG Kids gave me the opportunity to build relationships with faculty and students from multiple disciplines and to be involved in vital comprehensive research."

STRONG Kids undergraduate research assistant


"I think that this is great research experience that helps you to develop many skills such as communication, teamwork, flexibility, patience, and critical thinking, among many others."

— STRONG Kids undergraduate research assistant


"I think that anyone, especially if they're planning to go into health care or nutrition, would really gain useful experience, a grasp on medical problems, and realize first-hand how many factors can contribute to one issue, like obesity."

— STRONG Kids undergraduate research assistant

Undergraduate Research Symposium 2016

Research week at Illinois brings students and faculty together to learn more about their research and its potential to change the world. Students showcase their projects at events across campus throughout the week leading up to the Undergraduate Research Symposium. The symposium invites students from all academic disciplines to share their research through presentations, posters, and performances. Each year, HDFS 494 students can present their research findings at the event. HDFS 494 students participating in the April 2016 Undergraduate Research Symposium are in the album below.

Undergraduate Research Symposium 2016