April 15, 2015

Undergraduate Research Week 2015

Posted by Laura Guertin

Whereas the week of April 11, 2011, would be an appropriate week to designate as ‘‘Undergraduate Research Week’’: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives—
(1) supports the designation of ‘‘Undergraduate Research Week’’;
(2) recognizes the importance of undergraduate research and of providing research opportunities for the Nation’s talented youth to cultivate innovative, creative, and enterprising young researchers, in collaboration with dedicated faculty;
(3) encourages institutions of higher education, Federal agencies, businesses, philanthropic entities, and others to support undergraduate research and undergraduate researchers and their faculty mentors;
(4) encourages opportunities, including through existing programs, for females and underrepresented minorities to participate in undergraduate research; and
(5) supports the role undergraduate research can and does play in crucial research that serves the Nation’s best economic and security interests.

From H. Res. 1654


Welcome to Undergraduate Research Week!  The story of this annual celebration begins on November 16, 2010, when the House of Representatives declared the week of April 11, 2011, as “Undergraduate Research Week”.  The resolution, H.Res. 1654, can be found online.  C-SPAN has archived short video clips of the three Members who spoke on behalf of the resolution: Rep. Mazie Hirono, Rep. Glenn Thompson, and Rep. Rush Holt.  Many local governments, including Governors, County Executives, and Mayors, issue annual proclamations in mid-April to name Undergraduate Research Week for their jurisdiction.

Why undergraduate research?  I could fill several blog posts with the answer to this question!  But this TEDxGeorgeMasonU video from Bethany Usher provides some interesting thoughts and perspectives on Preparing Students For the World through Undergraduate Research.

The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) has a webpage where they list college/university events in connection with this annual celebration.  The 2015 list is filled with mentions of campus undergraduate research celebrations, keynote addresses, and additional showcases and demonstrations.  The National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) is being held at Eastern Washington University this week, with thousands of undergraduate students sharing their research results through oral presentations, poster presentations, visual arts sessions, and performing arts sessions.

In celebration of the first Undergraduate Research Week, my campus made a video with students sharing their different research experiences and types of projects (community-based, involving human subjects, etc.).  Although we only interviewed honors students for this video, we certainly need to make a “2.0” version to show how much we have made undergraduate research accessible to all audiences on campus and the diversity of projects in the disciplines.  Other institutions have created videos of students sharing their undergraduate research experiences, such as UW-Whitewater, Notre Dame, UCLA, Texas A&M, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Do you have any celebrations taking place on your campuses?  Any articles/videos to share?  Please do in the comments field!  And mark your calendar for next year’s Undergraduate Research Week 2016, during the week of April 11.



Additional sources for exploration

Beckman, M., & N. Hensel. (2009). Making the Explicit the Implicit: Defining Undergraduate Research. CUR Quarterly, 29(4): 40-44. (PDF online)

Lopatto, D. (2003, March). The Essential Features of Undergraduate Research. CUR Quarterly, 23(3): 139-142. (PDF online)

Wenzel, T. (n.d.). Definition of Undergraduate Research. Personal Essay. (PDF online)