February 13, 2019

Office of Undergraduate Research provides opportunities for students, staff to learn and communicate

Student working on robot A Purdue student works with a robot at the 2018 "Celebrate Purdue's Thinkers, Creators, and Experiments" event organized by the Office of Undergraduate Research. The event allows undergraduates in research or creative endeavors to showcase their work. (Purdue University photo/John Underwood) Download image

The Office of Undergraduate Research was formed in summer 2017, and since then has developed a wealth of opportunities and services for not only undergraduates, but also faculty and staff. Its seminars, scholarships and conferences benefit research and creative endeavors in all academic disciplines across campus.

For students, the OUR works to promote and expand opportunities for them to work on undergraduate research experiences with skilled mentors across campus, and opportunities are provided every semester to work on research communication.

Amy Childress, the OUR’s director, says that students’ learning about communicating their research and disseminating it is an important piece of research: “It’s a critical component of their experience, and being able to communicate what they’re doing and its impacts to a broader audience is something that will serve them well in their future careers.”

Every semester, the OUR oversees and manages a variety of research conferences. The 2018 Fall Research Expo launched with more than 200 students providing research posters and oral presentations. The Undergraduate Research Conference featured over 600 student participants. A summer poster symposium is planned for July 25.

The OUR also administers a scholarship program in equal partnership with the colleges to fund academic-year scholarships for 100 students. The office launched a series of four online one-credit courses this academic year to enhance students’ self-reflection, research skills and communication. Finally, the office offers research and travel grants to further students’ opportunities beyond campus.

Lauren Jankowski received one of the scholarships and took the associated online course to help students learn from and understand their research experience. “It has been extremely helpful in my preparation for graduate school,” she said. “I am forced to think critically about the skills I have gained throughout my research experience and how I can apply these skills in settings outside of the lab.”

Student working on robot Purdue student Lauren Jankowski received a grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research to present at the Biomedical Engineering Society Annual meeting in Atlanta. (Photo provided)

The OUR also organizes a biweekly seminar series in partnership with Purdue University Libraries faculty and staff to help students prepare posters and journal manuscripts, present their work, and give and respond to constructive feedback. OUR staff host regular seminars for prospective undergraduate researchers to introduce them to research and assist them when looking for available opportunities.

The OUR offers a wealth of opportunities for faculty and staff as well. They host biweekly community of practice meetings to discuss best practices and share resources, consult on grant proposals and the design and implementation of new programs, and provide support for ongoing undergraduate research experiences.

Finally, newsletters for students and faculty provide information about upcoming opportunities, deadlines and events.

Jankowski believes that her experience with the Office of Undergraduate Research helped her get the most out of her research experience. “I would definitely recommend utilizing the opportunities offered by OUR to any student engaged in research,” she said. “The faculty is incredibly helpful and truly wants to help their students succeed. There are so many opportunities to help students get involved in research and capitalize on their experience.”

More information about upcoming events is available on the website. Students and staff interested in working with the Office of Undergraduate Research are encouraged to visit the office in Hicks Undergraduate Library, Room G936, or email UGResearch@purdue.edu.


Writer: Kelsey Schnieders Lefever, kschnied@purdue.edu

Source: Amy Childress, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, childres@purdue.edu

J.J. Sadler, associate director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, jjsadler@purdue.edu

Lauren Jankowski, ljankowski@purdue.edu

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