A new UCSB research project will soon put college students’ study, eating and social habits under the microscope as part of an in-depth look at student life throughout the University of California system.

UCSB’s Institute for Social, Behavioral and Economic Research, with funding from the UC Office of the President, is preparing to launch a study of student life both on and off UC campuses.

The new project, called the “Academic Experience Study,” plans to conduct the research through an extensive survey. Researchers said the Internet is the most likely form of administering the survey.

“We’re interested in a long-term study of the entire undergraduate experience in the University of California, focused on who and how do students make the most of college opportunities. This will involve clearly defining student characteristics,” UCSB Sociology Professor Richard Flacks said.

“[The study] is intended to be a multi-year process, following students through their entire college experience. We’re really just starting to plan this year, testing out different methods to work the study. It will eventually be a collection of close-up studies about different dimensions of student life,” Flacks said.

With a total of 14 centers, including global studies, the study of religion and evolutionary psychology, the student life research project is just one of ISBER’s focuses this year, Director Richard Appelbaum said.

“Our main goal this year is to increase the amount of excellent research being done at UCSB,” he said. “We have so many different projects to talk about right now and we’re working to smoothly administer those projects.”

The institute, formed in 1967, serves the campus with sponsored research in social science, humanities and other fields of the university. It employs 129 investigators in roughly 100 different projects that question communication, social policy, health data, religion, sexual minorities and other societal issues.

In addition to the research of its members, one of ISBER’s focuses is enabling faculty and graduate students to find funding for their own research. ISBER is handling $11 million in contracts and grant research development programs. The institute also runs two intramural funding programs – the ISBER Social Science Research Grants program and the Humanistic Social Science Research Program.

ISBER helps complete contracts and grants, which ISBER Assistant Director Barbara Harthorn said would have otherwise been trapped in red tape.

“[ISBER is] the main social science institute for the campus,” she said. “We are like an umbrella for extramurally funded research. We work to provide an administrative base for funded research by primarily working with faculty to develop research proposals.”