UWF launches Office of Undergraduate Research
The University of West Florida (UWF) launched the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) this fall, giving undergraduate students the opportunity to apply for grant funding to conduct research projects outside the classroom.
These research projects and other activities give students the opportunity to develop critical thinking, logic and reasoning skills that may not be developed in a traditional classroom setting, according to Dr. Pam Vaughan, director of the OUR and assistant professor of chemistry at UWF.
“I’ve seen the transformation students have when they’ve gone from learning purely in the classroom to working in a lab,” Vaughan said. “They get to encounter a problem where maybe something doesn’t work the first time, and they must go back and reassess. The experience helps them on so many levels, whether it prepares them for a job or going on to graduate school.”
Projects selected in the fall round of funding spanned across the departments of physics, history, chemistry, computer science, biology, environmental studies and math.
Students across all disciplines at UWF may apply for an award in two categories: project awards or travel awards. Both have a maximum award amount of $650 per semester.
Project awards require a faculty mentor, and students must submit a short abstract describing the project in order to be considered. Faculty mentors receive a $100 stipend for their time in mentoring the student.
Travel awards assist students who travel to present their already completed research at a national or regional workshop or conference.
Vaughan initiated the idea of the OUR after attending a workshop in the spring sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research. While many departments already encourage undergraduate research, she felt it could be better supported across all UWF departments, including arts and humanities programs.
A committee drafted a proposal to the office of Provost Chula King, who then agreed to support the program in its first year.
Learn more about the OUR online http://uwf.edu/our/, or contact Dr. Pam Vaughan at firstname.lastname@example.org.