Saying EURECA! for undergraduate research

EURECA's office sits in the Atrium at Clark Student Center
EURECA’s office sits in the Atrium at Clark Student Center, Sep 14. (Colin Stevenson)

A total of 16 Enhancing Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities scholars and mentors were chosen to receive funding for their research this year. They include research from the Dillard College of Business Administration, the West College of Education, Prothro-Yeager College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the McCoy College of Science Mathematics and Engineering.

“We have students from all disciplines and professors from a variety of disciplines [who] all have to interact at different points through the term,“ Stacia Miller, director of undergraduate research and a EURECA mentor, said.

Students or mentors can submit a research proposal to the committee. Fall semester applications are due on December 1 every year and spring applications are due on June 1 of every year. After it has been submitted, the application is evaluated by faculty volunteers based on a scoring instrument written by a university assessment committee to determine which proposals are chosen. Then the groups get to work.

“[The mentors are] like a support system to facilitate undergraduate research. We support [the students], teach them and guide them,” Leann Curry, chair of undergraduate education and a EURECA mentor, said.

Students and mentors meet regularly to discuss, brainstorm, plan and look over their individual research and progress. Yu Guo, associate professor of engineering, is mentoring four separate research groups. He has been involved with EURECA since its formation in 2013.

“We meet every week where each group will report their progress. When there is a problem, we also discuss it in the meeting. And students could receive suggestions or learn possible solutions from me or other groups,” Guo said.

Wanting to begin research as an undergraduate student can be difficult without any guidance or assistance. It can be especially difficult for students who want to research a topic past a class assignment and learn about it at a deeper level.

“Our office provides that opportunity for students who are wanting to build their resume, wanting to go beyond the classroom learning and get involved in their discipline in a different way,” Miller said.

All research projects are unique, but not necessarily disconnected from one another. In this way, students can learn from other scholars and research throughout the process.

“Students could learn and get experience from other groups. Sharing information between the groups allows them to put more time and work on researching the unique portion of their own project,” Guo said.

Some students work with multiple mentors. When this happens, especially if the mentors are from different disciplines, students can see the varying ways research can occur.

“When you have a co-mentorship, that student is getting that training from two different people…. It expands their research knowledge,” Miller said.

While students are pursuing much of the research by themselves, the mentors themselves gain a lot from the process as well. Most mentors assist with research close to their passion and love to share it with students.

“The faculty mentors get as much, in a different way. It’s a collaborative partnership. The faculty get something from it and the students get something from it. It’s not just student benefits,” Miller said.

EURECA offers collaboration on all levels for research. Through them, many researchers can come together that may never have spoken otherwise.

“Many opportunities for the mentors and the students to come together for collaboration. The students can support each other [and so can] the mentors,” Curry said.

EURECA also offers workshops throughout the year on different research aspects, such as how to write a proposal or give a presentation. Undergraduate students interested in research can stop by the Undergraduate Research Office.

“A lot of students hear that word ‘undergraduate research’ and it scares them and they’re… intimidated by it…. It’s for anybody interested. If you don’t think undergraduate research is for you, you’re wrong,” Miller said.