Undergraduate research is a valued component to our strategic plan and is tightly integrated into our mission to shape the future through innovative thinking, community engagement and transformative education. We treasure and invest heavily in undergraduate research. In fact, in 2017, approximately two thirds of our undergraduate students engaged in some form of research activity. Encouraging and supporting our undergraduates to take an active role in research as part of their intellectual journey at the University of Idaho will better prepare them to innovate, transform and engage long after graduation.
Earlier this month, I was fortunate to attend the Undergraduate Research Symposium, which is organized by U of I’s Office of Undergraduate Research and held in Moscow each April. This event showcases and celebrates the research and scholarly work of our undergraduates across the university’s many traditional and interdisciplinary disciplines. I enjoyed reading the nearly 140 posters featuring our students’ work on topics ranging from the dynamics of cerebral spinal fluid to behavioral economics.
I would also like to highlight a great upcoming event, the 2018 Idaho Conference on Undergraduate Research (ICUR) that will be held July 25-26 in Boise. This conference receives support from the Idaho State Board of Education/Higher Education Research Council, Idaho National Laboratory, NSF Idaho EPSCoR, and NIH Idaho INBRE as well as our universities. It is a fantastic opportunity for students — who are from across the entire state of Idaho and involved in research, scholarship and creative activities — to engage with other students, faculty, staff and the community.
Our entire university, including the Office of Undergraduate Research, the Provost’s office, the Office of Research and Economic Development, and our many Colleges, encourages students to pursue independent research. To ensure this happens, we give undergraduates an abundance of opportunities to participate in research, scholarly and creative activities. We also support such endeavors through several scholarships and grants.
Two recent students of note are LeAnn Hold and Alexandra Flores, both recipients of the prestigious Beckman Scholarship Program award. They will be supported over the course of two summers to engage in research under faculty mentors. LeAnn will explore a cell signaling pathway in stem cells may one day play a role in tendon formation and repair. Alexandra will be studying gene mutations connected to brain development and autism spectrum disorders. I am so proud to see these undergraduate students engaging in such high-level research this early in their academic careers!
Internships offer yet another opportunity for undergraduate students to participate in research across the state. The Idaho Water Resources Research Institute’s Lake Social Ecological Systems (LaSES) lab in Coeur d’Alene, for example, provides students a chance to research the cycling and transport of nutrients across a forested lake basin. U of I students coming from a range of backgrounds, from computer science to anthropology, intern at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls. And each year, U of I’s McClure Center for Public Policy Research in Boise partners with our School of Journalism and Mass Media to host two legislative interns who report stories covering Idaho’s entire legislative session. Our 2018 interns, Kyle Pfannenstiel and Nina Rydalch, authored at least three articles weekly for six newspapers across the state, a weekly audio piece for Idaho Public Radio, and more than 100 social media posts.
Undergraduate research thrives at the University of Idaho. I encourage our faculty and staff to incorporate an undergraduate component in their research, scholarship and creative activities and to join with me in celebrating these achievements.
Janet E. Nelson
Research and Economic Development
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- Diving into Global Indigenous Studies Research: Five students in the 2017-18 Martin Scholars program delve into global indigenous studies with their faculty mentor
Read more research news and features on the Office of Research and Economic Development website.