Santa Clara University


Provost's Office News & Events


Provost's Office News & Events

Back to Blog

Undergraduate Research Initiatives Update

Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009


The Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI) was launched in 2008 to: expand research opportunities for SCU undergraduates; foster a culture supportive of undergraduate research; and develop an infrastructure for undergraduate research. Here is an update on the initiative.

The URI helps coordinate, and in some cases supports, a wide variety of undergraduate research symposia on campus.  For example:
·          The Undergraduate Science and Engineering Symposium (USES) is in its third year.  This unique University-wide and interdisciplinary symposium provides a forum for junior and senior students to present their research to the campus community.  Students participate in panel discussions focused on the value of research in their development and education.  The symposium introduces freshmen and sophomores to the wide range of undergraduate research opportunities that exist at SCU.  Sessions this year will include “Ecology & Environmental Studies,” “All Things Nano,” and “Social Science.” In 2010, the URI supported this symposium with a $2,000 grant.
·          The Western Departments of Anthropology and Sociology Undergraduate Research Conference has been hosted at SCU for 37 years.  Held this year on 4/24/10, the conference promotes and recognizes undergraduate research in Anthropology and Sociology.  This year’s program included presentations from 37 students, nine of whom are SCU students. In 2010, the URI supported this symposium with a $500 grant.
·          Sigma Xi is the honor society for scientific research. This year 21 undergraduates presented research posters at a session held in conjunction with the DeNardo scholars’ event.
·          The West Coast Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Conference was founded at SCU 35 years ago and was hosted on our campus on 4/24/10. 
·          The School of Engineering’s 40th Annual Senior Design Conference was held on 5/6/10.

URI provides grants and awards to support undergraduate research and faculty mentoring of undergraduate research:
·          Undergraduate Student Travel Awards:  The URI granted 18 awards in 2009-2010 for up to $1,000 per undergraduate student.  Students used these funds to travel to professional society meetings and to research sites both within the U.S. and abroad.
·          Faculty-Student Research Assistant Program (FSRAP):  This year FSRAP supported 24 faculty members with grants of $1,000 each to be used for student wages.  Projects ranged from “Kinship and Justice: Christian Perspectives on Immigration” (Dr. Kristen Heyer, Religious Studies) to “Microfinance to Assist Economic Recovery in Haiti” (Dr. Hoje Jo, Finance) and “Attempts to Change a Spouse’s Health Behavior” (Dr. Keiran Sullivan, Psychology).  Each faculty member described how he or she would train and mentor an undergraduate assistant to assist the project.
·          Clare Booth Luce Undergraduate Research Scholars:  Clare Booth Luce Research Scholar awards are for undergraduate women majoring in the natural sciences and engineering.  Each awardee received $6,000 to support summer research.  All three of this year’s recipients are juniors who are on the path to becoming outstanding scholars.
·          Doelger Undergraduate Research Scholars receive up to $6,000 to support summer research or creative work. These awards are open to undergraduate students in all disciplines.  There were four recipients this year.

The URI also rolled out a pilot program in 2008 to explore how to incorporate mentorship of undergraduate research into faculty teaching.  Departments have been awarded anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 to support undergraduate research.  Recipient departments include Economics, Mathematics and Computer Science, Religious Studies, Sociology, Psychology, Environmental Studies, and the “natural sciences” (Chemistry, Biology, and Physics).  The departments used these funds to support innovative models for the mentoring of undergraduate research. Here are just a few highlights:
·          Psychology used URI funds to support student travel to conferences.  URI funds, supplemented by a grant from the College of Arts and Sciences dean’s office, supported travel to professional meetings for 18 students and covered registration fees of several students at nearby undergraduate research conferences.
·          Environmental Studies used URI funds to support student wages, research supplies, and student travel to study sites and professional meetings.  Thirteen students supported by URI funds completed projects and presented their work at USES.
·          URI funds are supporting SCU’s first-ever Religious Studies Student Research Colloquium held on 4/30/10.  Undergraduate presentations covered topics such as “Women’s Ordination and Catholicism: A Perspective from Santa Clara Students,” “Bonds After Bombs: A Study of the Uniting Effect of Conflict for the Maronite Church,” and “Jesuit Education at Santa Clara.”  Francis X. Clooney, S.J., of Harvard University acted as the respondent to the student presentations.