With the start of the 2018-2019 school year, the start of the Undergraduate Research awards cycle begins as well. Undergraduate Research offers a large assortment of awards and opportunities in an effort to expand undergraduate education outside of the classroom and to all students.
With opportunities from international travel to on-campus and community-based opportunities, the Undergraduate Research program at the University of Nevada, Reno encourages students to ask questions and then pursue research-, creative- or scholarly based answers and solutions. With the support and guidance of faculty mentors, students looking to expand education beyond note-taking and lectures can further explore their field of study with the support of awards and scholarships through the office of Undergraduate Research, which is part of Research & Innovation at the University.
This year, with the endorsement of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada (ASUN), Undergraduate Research has expanded support and awards to give away, totaling upwards of $300,000. This is also the first year of the Pack Research Experience Program, aimed at freshmen and sophomores who will be hired as student workers to work on research proposed by faculty members, and be further encouraged to continue to pursue their research interests.
The International Research Experience for Undergraduates is a continuing and growing program. The 8-10 week program matches undergraduate students with research mentors at universities in China, France, Italy, Spain and potentially more countries in the future. The program is conducted in English, with language classes included in the curriculum. Scholarships specific to this program are available and supported by ASUN and Undergraduate Research.
College of Education student Casey Iwamoto earned the International Research Experience award that allowed her to travel to Viterbo, Italy where she studied tree-rings and the dynamics of old-growth forests.
"I had a great schedule there that mixed intensive language courses with my research experience, plus I went on several trips-traveled to the Apennines Mountain region to learn about ag and local culture with Milan students, did a field study in southern Italy, and collected samples from Mount Cimino," said Iwamoto
The undergraduate awards can be used for more than the typical STEM research and can be applied to any field of study including the social sciences, arts and humanities. Journalism and Spanish major Natalie Van Hoozer earned the Honors Undergraduate Research Awards which allowed her to combine her two majors and gain real-world experience in her field.
"The Honors Research Award allowed me to interview my study subjects in-person in LA and the Bay Area. This was important to my project and also was a valuable career experience," said Van Hoozer.
Beyond gaining valuable skills, experience and making new connections, the work that is developed from the awards can be submitted and published in the Nevada State Undergraduate Research Journal. Developed by ASUN, the NSURJ provides a medium for undergraduates to submit and be published in a competitive research journal where their work can be peer-reviewed, tested and validated.
In order to receive an award, undergraduates need to prepare an application, find a mentor, and prepare a presentation at the annual spring Nevada Undergraduate Research Symposium. Guidelines, sample applications and presentations, and a mentor directory can be found at unr.edu/undergradresearch. The different awards and opportunities can be found at unr.edu/undergradresearch/opportunities.