CHAPEL HILL, NC – The University of North Carolina announced this week it has selected four teams as the recipients of Undergraduate Research Awards, granting $100,000 in funding to support projects that span nine UNC institutions.
 
Last fall, the system’s Undergraduate Research Directors Council identified three areas of focus for research proposals: Assessment, Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs), and Diversity/Inclusion. In response, UNC received 28 proposals from 14 UNC institutions, and the four top-ranked proposals were selected to receive funding.
 
UNC President Margaret Spellings praised the quality of the projects. “The UNC system has a longstanding reputation as an innovator in teaching and research, and we are excited about these exceptional projects that will further our excellence in both of these areas. The highly collaborative nature of these projects once again demonstrates that the whole of the UNC system is indeed greater than the sum of its parts.”
 
Undergraduate research is a learning tool in which undergraduate students explore a topic or discipline and make a unique contribution to the research or scholarship in that field. Undergraduate research is typically carried out in close collaboration with a faculty mentor and is well recognized as a key contributor to student success. Students who participate in undergraduate research are generally more likely to remain in school and are more likely to engage in various professional activities. They are also more likely to continue their education beyond their undergraduate studies and are more competitive for jobs.
 
The following are the four winning proposals:
 
Collaboration, Diversity, and Inclusion in a Tri-Institutional CURE/IURE/Service Learning Research Project
Project lead: Kelsie Bernot, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
Institutions: NC A&T, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Guilford College (Guilford College is a non-funded partner)
The team seeks to evaluate student outcomes for students who have participated in Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs). They will also assess scientific literacy, critical thinking, and learning outcomes for participating students. This study will help the team understand the effectiveness of different types of undergraduate research approaches and develop better ways to evaluate these learning experiences.

University of North Carolina System-Wide CURE Development and Summit
Project lead: Lee Phillips, UNCG
Institutions: UNCG, NCA&T, North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Asheville, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke
The team seeks to develop Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs) and integrate these key teaching practices into their curricula. The overarching goals of this project are to: 1) Promote the development of CUREs; 2) Create a network of CURE developers on each partnering campus, as well as across the entire UNC system; and 3) Develop a system-wide, two-day CURE Summit designed to bring together a community of faculty, administrators, and students from a variety of disciplines to discuss best practices in undergraduate research.
 
Undergraduate Scholars Planning Institute
Project lead: Deanna Dannels, NC State
Institutions: NC State, Winston-Salem State University
The funding will support a 3-day Undergraduate Scholars Planning Institute in late spring, 2017 at NC State’s Hunt Library. The institute’s goals are to develop an instructional portal that includes curricular materials, educational resources, and assessment protocols for use in the initial phase of the Undergraduate Scholars Collaborative (to be implemented 2017-19). The Undergraduate Research Collaborative aims to increase the numbers of underserved undergraduate students involved with research. It will provide research awards to students to participate in a two-year program of research engagement, networking, and mentoring with research-active faculty. 

Enhancing Instructor Support and Reaching More Students in a Mentorship-Based Summer Research Program
Project lead: Chris Thomas, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics
Institutions: NCSSM, with faculty mentors from North Carolina Central University, NC State, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
This proposal requests funding to: 1) Provide increased instructional support to summer research students; 2) Re-organize the novel school-year research curriculum and assessment to enhance and better measure the learning outcomes of summer research intern participants; and 3) Expand the base of students in summer research programs to reach more underserved or unserved students.

Thursday, January 19, 2017