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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA summer research opportunities provide unique experiences

    Summer vacation for college students can be a lazy time. After eight or so months of time consumed by studying and rigorous class schedules during the school year, many relish in taking a few months off to relax and enjoy the calm of a well-deserved break.

    Ranging from the sciences to the arts, the UA offers its undergraduates a place to work alongside research professors, grad students and postdocs. Much of the research that is conducted is original. This gives students the chance to delve into areas that may not have yet been fully studied, while also attaching their names to papers published in academic journals.

    One such opportunity is the Undergraduate Research Grant Program supported by the honors college in partnership with the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research. This summer 22 undergraduates have been selected to participated.

    First established in 1987, the program enables students to design and conduct their own research projects. Students present their findings each spring at the Undergraduate Research Expo held at the Student Union Memorial Center. This research opportunity is open to all undergraduates at UA, not just honors students, and can be done in any field.

    “Discovery is at the heart of the mission of the University of Arizona and its Honors College,” said Patricia MacCorquodale, dean of the Honors College.

    Past projects ranged from analyzing hundreds of JavaScript files to see if they were malicious and how they affect the everyday user, to examining how artists transition from one medium of art to another throughout their careers.

    “Through the Undergraduate Research Grant Program, students are able to reach far beyond the traditional classroom setting and participate in experiential learning through hands-on research,” said MacCorquodale who noted that many projects result in publications, conference presentations, job offers and fellowships to graduate school.

    The vast potential that this program offers allows students to be creative in discovering more than just traditional learning methods.

    They represent a diverse array of departments including American Indian studies, photography, psychology, neuroscience and anthropology, among others. Students submitted their grant proposals last spring and upon being named recipients of the undergraduate research grant, each received a stipend of up to $1,500 to conduct their original research proposals this summer. Students select a faculty mentor to help guide and develop their projects.

    Recent ratings released by the U.S. News & World Report indicate that the UA is not only a quality research university, but it’s getting better every year. The article also pointed out more good news for the UA as, “a leader in undergraduate research and creative projects in the ‘Programs to Look For’ section, which highlights schools with outstanding programs in eight areas identified by education experts as keys to student success.”

    The Undergraduate Research Grant program encompasses all aspects of what a research project should include, with collaboration between students and faculty and innovative research.

    While many college students’ research over the break probably entailed the effects of hot dogs and Bud Light on the nervous system, others capitalized on the opportunity to engage in an experience that goes beyond the confinements of a classroom.

    ­— Brian Peel is a senior studying history. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or via Twitter @WildcatOpinions.

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