USU Undergraduate Research Program saved from being cut
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 16:10
USU’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship program returned this school year after being put on hold last spring.
The URF program, which has been in existence since 2004, is designed for students in any discipline to get involved in research as early as possible, according to Scott Bates, associate vice president and associate dean of Research and Graduate Studies. Bates recruits students in the spring of their senior year of high school.
“The benefit of getting involved in research as a freshman is that students have four years to accumulate viable research and useful habits, which makes for outstanding additions to medical and graduate school applications,” Bates said.
With criteria based on academic success records, goals and history of research involvement, the research board selects a group of 25 students to get involved with research studies in their freshman year of college, Bates said.
After a Dec. 2012 external evaluation of the USU Honors program, the program was identified as needing revitalization, so a task force consisting of a few different colleges was assembled to revamp the program, Bates said.
Dean John Allen of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences took charge of the task force and began discussing the possibilities of a reimagined Honors program, which eventually led to it being connected with the URF program because URF students were also Honors students, Bates said.
“The conversation then became one about putting the $100,000 budget of the URF program to good use rather than having two similar programs,” Bates said. “In meetings with deans of different colleges in the spring of 2013, the decision was made to transfer funds from the Undergraduate Research Fellows program to the Honors program because of the perceived overlap.”
At the department heads’ retreat in early August, the plan was presented to members of the faculty and many spoke out against it, Bates said. They argued they would lose the benefits of the URF program and not exactly replicate it in the Honors program.
David Peak teaches sophomore and junior level physics, and has mentored students for the last decade to prepare for competitions such as the Goldwater Scholarship, which is arguably the premier undergraduate scholarship for science, technology and engineering majors, he said.