University Research Week aims to engage and recruit undergraduates

UNC is celebrating University Research Week to highlight the vast amount of research and scholarship on campus. The Office for Undergraduate Research hosts a variety of events, allowing students to engage and learn about the global impact of research.

The semi-annual, campus-wide event, running Oct. 9 to Oct. 13, aims to bring awareness to UNC as a research university, as well as inform students of all the opportunities available to them as undergraduates in any field of research.

“The point of University Research Week is to highlight research going on on campus,” said Boots Quimby, associate director of the Office for Undergraduate Research. “In an ideal world it would be great for every student at UNC to have a research experience of some sort. And it is not impossible.”

Quimby said there are a multitude of ways for students to get involved in research on campus. 

“Go to talks, talk to your professors. Talk to them about their research,” Quimby said. “See what kind of research they are doing and see what other people are doing that research on campus. And if you wanted to get involved, ask them if they are looking for an undergrad.”

Many UNC faculty members recognize the importance of research in the University community and are working actively to increase undergraduate participation. Troy Blackburn, associate dean and director of the Office for Undergraduate Research, studies musculoskeletal and ACL injuries, conducting research on topics such as the causes of arthritis. In addition to his own work, his role is to facilitate undergraduates’ involvement in research. 

“Our office provides different opportunities for undergraduate students to become involved in research,” Blackburn said. “When undergraduate students are involved in research, it enhances the educational experience.”

While research may not always seem applicable to students, University Research Week aims to introduce undergraduate students to the importance and impact research can have in everyday life. Beth Kurtz-Costes, professor and director of the Developmental Program of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, conducts research on academic motivation in adolescents, with concentrations on race, gender and social identity. 

“Research has a tremendous influence on our day-to-day life,” Kurtz-Costes said. “Research is extremely important. I find it personally exciting and rewarding to work at a research university such as UNC. I appreciate the new value on interdisciplinary scholarship and research.” 

Hilary Edwards Lithgow, a professor and the undergraduate adviser for the English department, recognize the value of research beyond just an educational skill.

“A lot of research is about these really valuable practices, like learning to listen, understanding views that are different than your own and finding your voice in a conversation instead of shouting over other people,” Lithgow said. “It is so rare to find to find something that is useful in school, useful in real life and good for us as humans, and I think research is all of those things.”

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