North Texas Daily

New fellowship to expand undergrad research opportunities

New fellowship to expand undergrad research opportunities

New fellowship to expand undergrad research opportunities
February 18
01:32 2016

Sarah Sarder | Staff Writer


UNT officials from TAMS, the Honors College and the Hurley Administration Building have come together to create a program aimed at encouraging undergraduate students to take interest in research.

The new Undergraduate Research Fellowship program plans to expand opportunities that typically only allowed graduate-level students to assist in faculty research.

“This is an opportunity for students to actually take a step into the graduate world of academic research and scholarship,” TAMS associate dean for academics Dr. Eric Gruver said.

The new initiative reflects the university’s devotion to improving research output, which helped UNT to be labeled tier-one in research by the Carnegie Classification. The new research program was introduced just days following the announcement.

“We are very proud that the goal of being a tier-one university has been achieved,” Dean Glênisson de Oliveira of the Honors College said. “But it is still important for us to build on that momentum and continue to incentivize and create opportunities for research at all levels.”

The fellowship requires a student and a faculty mentor to outline their proposed research and offers a $500 award to students who complete their proposal in two semesters. There are 250 fellowships available for students, and an additional $10,000 that will be granted to the college with the most recipients.

“We’re trying to incentivize colleges to encourage their students to apply for these awards,” Gruver said.

While anyone with at least two semesters remaining at UNT can receive a URF, the $500 will only be awarded to student accounts, so seniors will not receive the money unless they continue on and attend graduate school at UNT.

“The URF will occasion more opportunities for undergraduates to interact closely with research mentors, to make original contributions to their fields of study and to be able to place on their resumes a stellar credential of academic distinction,” Dr. James Duban, associate dean for research and national scholarships said. “So, the award goes well beyond the very generous financial sum of $500.”

The idea to create the URF came when Duban found that schools with high numbers of national scholarship winners seemed to have more undergraduate research opportunities. Duban discussed the subject with former UNT vice president Geoffrey Gamble, who knew of a program similar to the URF at Montana State University, where Gamble had previously been president.

“When people have a mindset of working with other departments and people, that is really for the benefit of the whole,” Oliveira said about the combined effort that brought the URF program to fruition. “We really look forward to expanding that spirit of collaboration as more and more departments jump on board and are engaged in this effort.”

The discussion about the URF expanded at this point to include Oliveira, Dr. Tom McCoy, vice president for research and economics, Provost Finley Graves and Dr. Bob Brown, vice president for finance and administration. Finally, UNT president Neal Smatresk was approached with the idea. He was fully on board, and approved funding for the project.

“The funding is based, first and foremost, in the conviction of our university administrators that the URF stands significantly to enhance the quality of education for undergraduates who might otherwise not benefit from such mentorship,” Duban said.

Featured Image: File Photo 

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