Research internships

The Department of African American Studies offers several paid and volunteer research internships for undergraduate and graduate students. Research internships are highly competitive and preference is given to students with exceptional academic records, expressed intent to pursue graduate school, and significant progress toward a degree in African American Studies. If you are interested in learning more about our department’s research internship opportunities, then please contact an African American Studies adviser.

Currently available opportunities

VCU Pregnancy Study

This study also known as “Racial Differences in Epigenetic Mechanisms of Preterm Birth” is funded by a P60 grant from the NIMHD the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. The goals are to: 1) identify robust environmental and biological predictors of preterm birth; 2) integrate these predictors to identify causal environmental-biological mechanisms of preterm birth and; 3) quantify the extent to which these predictors and mechanisms account for the overrepresentation of preterm birth in African Americans. Student opportunities in this study include training in the NIfETy (Neighborhood Inventory for Environmental Typology) assessment tool, as well as data collection using this tool. Expereinces with data entry and data dictionary creation using RedCAP data management software. Pregnancy Application and send to Sara Wagner, RN at Please note we will only be contacting qualified applicants based on availability of open positions.

The Virginia Slave Narratives Project

The purpose of the Virginia Slave Narratives Project at VCU is to provide a fully annotated, digital collection of slave narratives by Virginia authors.  The texts published by the Project would be of use to academic scholars who will use the annotations and introductions as groundwork for their own critical and theoretical assessments, and lay readers in the community who will be able to access the narratives in a fresh, informed way. The Virginia Slave Narratives Project is poised to become a signature research project at VCU that will be of lasting scholarly significance and have wide public and community appeal.  In addition, it will provide hands-on archival research and digital editing experience for students and support the Quest for Distinction strategic plan. This project would give documentary presence to the role of Virginia in the origins of American chattel slavery, beginning at Jamestown in 1619, and the pivotal role of Virginia, particularly Richmond, in the Internal Slave Trade. Undergraduate students are needed to do primary research authenticating and annotating slave narratives by Virginia authors and to identify supporting documents to edit and publish alongside the texts. Please contact Dr. Katherine Bassard, Chair of the Department of English, for more information.

Afrikana Film Festival Community Internships

The Afrikana Film Festival is a non-profit organization that utilizes the medium of independent film, created by and about people of the African Diaspora, to stimulate meaningful, cross-cultural dialogue. Students will have the opportunity to engage in a wide range of activities and network with a variety of people from Richmond and abroad. Currently, the Afrikana Independent Film Festival is looking for dedicated, friendly, and enthusiastic interns to help promote and assist in facilitating our film festival and upcoming promotional events. Starting in September, we will begin hosting the first of our promotional events, the Noir Cinema Series. These events will be held every third Thursday of the month at various art galleries around the city. Thursday evening availability (after 5pm) is paramount. Contact Ms. Enjoli Moon ( for more information.

Behavior Coding Research Internships

This research internship opportunity is intended for advanced undergraduate students and is designed to familiarize and engage students in research to develop a coding scheme that reliability identifies key learning-related affective states (emotions) that researchers developing computer-based tutoring and cognitive training programs can use. This research project involves 1) learning how to recognize different learning-related emotions revealed in facial expressions (e.g. frustration, surprise, engagement), (2) watching and coding videos), 3) analyzing students’ self-report and tutor-reports of perceived emotional and cognitive states, and 4) reviewing literature on emotion and learning, and automated detection of emotional states. Contact Dr. Zewelanji Serpell for more information. Click here to review syllabus

Community Wellness Fitness Program Internship

The Health & Wellness Initiative (HWI) Zumba Program is an ongoing fitness project that provides fitness classes and nutrition education to interested east end residents.  The goals of the project are to: assist Zumba stakeholders to maintain and organize monthly meetings; maintain Zumba database and provide regular reports on participation satisfaction and measures of wellness (ie:  weight, BMI and blood pressure); and evaluate the effectiveness of the Zumba program curriculum as well as participant satisfaction/feedback. We need one individual interested in health communication, behavioral change, database management, program evaluation, community-engaged research, or program development may work on this project. Please contact Dr. Prom-Wormley for more information. Click here to review internship description.

Division for Health Sciences Research Internship

The Research and Program Development Internship (Intern) will function in a team-oriented environment, and will provide support to the Assistant Vice President for Academic and Diversity Affairs. The intern will also participate in selective program activities sponsored by the Division for Health Sciences Diversity (DHSD).  The portfolio entails engaging in research related to diversity, inclusion, and health sciences pipeline programs. There is potential to co-publish in a scholarly journal. The intern will also assist DHSD in planning and implementation for the VCU Pipeline programs. This experience will be done selectively and with the aim of providing an experiential foundation to support research efforts. Contact Mr. Kevin Harris for more information. Click here for more information about the internship.

Lay-Health Worker Curriculum Development Internships

The Health & Wellness Initiative (HWI) Training of the Trainers (TOT) Program is an ongoing education project that educates interested east end resident leaders on the basic backgrounds of common chronic illnesses so that they may return to their communities to serve as a resident resource to encourage healthier behaviors.  This program is currently undergoing a phase of structural redevelopment to include curriculum development. The goals of the project are to develop a year-long Lay Health Worker curriculum in conjunction with HWI stakeholders; assist TOT program chairs to coordinate and organize TOT lectures to optimize the effectiveness of the program; and evaluate the effectiveness of the TOT curriculum as well as participant satisfaction/feedback. This is a long-term project.  We need up to two individuals interested in health curriculum development, health communication, behavioral change, or program development. Interested individuals should expect to invest on average 5-15 hours/week throughout the entire academic school year. The majority of this work will be under the supervision of Ms. Jameika Sampson, Manager of Program Evaluation and Sustainability at Bon Secours Health System and is likely to fulfill practicum or internship requirements. Please contact Dr. Prom-Wormley for more information. Click here to review internship.

MindMatch Chess Research Internships

This research internship entails working on the MindMatch Chess project. This is a community-based project that seeks to identify whether learning how to play chess improves thinking and reasoning skills, as well as social and academic competencies among elementary school students. Our team partners with public elementary schools in Richmond to provide after-school chess programs 3 days/week. Team members learn the chess curriculum, serve as chess mentors in the after school program, help prepare materials, run chess activities, and assist with data collection. In addition, they receive training and assist with administering assessments to children, scoring and entering data, and have opportunities to assist with analyzing data and developing research proposals and poster presentations. This is for credit opportunity. Contact Dr. Zewelanji Serpell for more information. Click here to review syllabus.

Seventh District Health and Wellness Internships

The Seventh District Health and Wellness Survey is a community-based participatory research project that plans to successfully recruit 1,000 East End residents to complete an online health survey.  The goals of the project are to assess the current state of health and access to health care in the Seventh District, develop the foundation for long-term health-related collaborations in the East End, and test the feasibility of using an internet-based survey to complete this project. Interns are needed in the planning and execution of an upcoming “Datapalooza” event.  This event will bring resident team members, community organization leaders, resident youth, and volunteer data analysts together to review the data and plan future steps for health and wellness in the east end. This project will be done under the supervision of Dr. Elizabeth Prom-Wormley and is likely to fulfill practicum requirements.  Please contact Dr. Prom-Wormley for more information. Click here to review internship description.