Projects for Undergraduate Research Assistance - Applications due 12/1

The Berkeley Center for New Media is offering three research assistant positions with our amazing graduate students! Each position is worth $1,000 and requires approximately 65 hours of work. You'll be paid the full amount after your supervisor confirms you have worked 30 hours and they anticipate you will complete the remaining portion. You will also receive BCNM new media certificate credit for EITHER engagement OR graduate level research upon completion of the project!

To apply, read the descriptions of projects here and fill in the application online and here!

If you are interested in multiple projects, please submit separate applications for each project.

Applications are due on December 1, 2019.

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Projects for Undergraduate Research Assistance 2020
Magical Music Mat 
The Magical Musical Mat (MMM) is a communication platform that uses touch and music as prosocial resources. It is currently being developed for nonverbal children on the autism spectrum, but can be used by many others beyond this population. When participants step onto the mat and explore different types of touch interactions together, capacitive sensors in the mat detect their haptic, touch-based interactions, triggering musical sounds. Different types of touch, such as holding hands, high-fives, or gentle taps, dynamically and spontaneously change auditory qualities, resulting in a rich diversity of sound-touch expression. 
The MMM is currently being developed by Rachel Chen, a doctoral student in Special Education, and Arianna Ninh, a Cognitive Science major with a minor in Computer Science (2019). Our project requires undergraduate assistance over the next semester in the development of prototype 5, and in collaboration with an autism clinic and a family. Our undergraduate assistant would be involved in prototype fabrication (using skills such as sewing, making circuitry, etc.), coding the Raspberry Pi with Python, coding Arduino, designing different musical interactions, and updating our project’s website. All-in-all, we hope that this mentorship will not only be a fruitful one, but also a fun one. 
The Mediation of the Human Face
This project charts the history of the mediation of the human face, looking at the ways photography, film, and video have been used as measuring devices to capture aspects of the human that evade and exceed quantitative knowability. The questions driving this project are drawn from contemporary concerns about the ethics and efficacy of facial recognition and emotion recognition software, as well as algorithms that use analytics to predict human behavior. A persistent ethical challenge revolves around the fact that artificial intelligence software is perceived to be opaque, which makes pinpointing algorithmic bias difficult. The historic approach is an attempt to open the black box, to understand the pre-algorithmic practices of mediating the face that have indeed been inherited by contemporary systems. 
An undergraduate researcher will help map out a robust historic timeline that tracks the way the face has been mediated via photography, film, and video, as well as in other disciplines, especially psychology, statistics, medicine, and other research related to eugenics and physiognomy. Because this is an early stage process, this could be an excellent opportunity for an undergraduate to bring their own creative and critical thinking skills to the research process. 

New Media Technology in the Courtroom
This project deals with the origins of new media technology in the courtroom. New media has had an incredible effect in the U.S. legal system. This is especially evident in our current moment: Body cameras have introduced the first-person perspective of law enforcement as evidence. Teleconferencing software is employed regularly in migrant detention cases. Recidivism algorithms assess defendants' risk of reoffending. While new media scholars such as Ruha Benjamin, Virginia Eubanks, and Kelli Moore have begun to address these contemporary technologies and their problems, the historical timeline for mediated evidence in the courtroom usually begins with the Rodney King trials of the early nineties. Yet emergent media technologies have been part of the courtroom since at least the mid-nineteenth century. This project turns to this longer history in an attempt to uncover the preconditions of our current moment of mediated justice.
Undergraduate Research Fellows will help build an archive of newspaper articles about court cases in the second half of the nineteenth century that used microscope, stereopticon, and photographic enlargement technology. That would consist of a combination of online newspaper database searching and in-person microfilm sourcing at the library. Fellows will read through the accounts (which tend to be quite amusing) and create timelines and summaries of the different cases. An undergraduate interested in archival research, California history, or law and technology would likely enjoy this work. A documentary film project is also being developed around this material, so Fellows could be mentored in conducting research for documentary film.