The Office of Undergraduate Research is keeping busy this summer with a series of events created specifically for undergraduate students. The Undergraduate Research Education Series (URES) is hosted in the Marriot Library each week until July 26.
URES has been around since the summer of 2014 and the majority of the crowd is made up of undergraduate students participating in various programs through the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR).
The University of Utah’s Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) requires attendance for these events in addition to students’ 10 weeks of research and mentorship from faculty.
Undergraduate research leader, James Zhao, joined the Office of Undergraduate Research after taking part in Utah’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). UROP is a program giving undergraduates a chance to perform research for $10 an hour. These students are also required to attend two URES Events per semester.
“The URES is most closely affiliated with UROP,” said academic advising coordinator and for the Office of Undergraduate Research and leading force behind URES, Stephanie Shiver, “But it also fills an educational need for SPUR participants. Any student at the U can attend. The events range from topics that would be most useful for students in the earlier stages of their research involvement to topics that are more advanced and well-suited for students who have been involved in research for some time.”
After attending his required events, Zhao quickly began to see the value of URES.
“It’s open to the public, so if you have the opportunity you should definitely attend,” Zhao said, “Depending on whatever field you’re in, those researchers can be beneficial. They are geared a little towards doing research and that’s kind of the point but I feel like you could apply it.”
This summer, students have already had the chance to attend one event on library research on May 16. They will have the chance to learn about technology, venture commercialization and the Institutional Review Board on May 25 and June 1, respectively.
Library research was led by the U’s Donna Ziegenfuss. Anonymous student feedback on the Office of Undergraduate Research website shared that, “In one hour, you can learn so much about narrowing down your topic, finding resources through the library and make a bibliography.”
Technology and venture commercialization are going to be presented by the U’s director of intellectual property, Beth Drees and the director of technology management, Chris Tiansky.
“It is important for students of all backgrounds to understand business basics,” said a student on the website. “Especially in research, it’s good to learn about invention/idea policies.”
In the Institutional Review Board session, the U’s international review board manager of operations, Sarah Mumford, shows students how to submit and design experiments and helps students understand why the rules that are put into place are important.
The flexibility of being able to pick and choose which sessions to attend with such a large variety really made the series useful for Zhao. His favorite event he attended was how to write a personal statement.
Presenters of upcoming topics come from a vast array of backgrounds while all stemming from the U.
“It started with topics that the OUR thought would be useful for undergraduate students who are involved in research, topics that really any student would benefit from and that help fill in the periphery of research education at the U and is re-organized and supplemented with topics as suggested by students and faculty every semester,” Shiver said. “Each year the undergraduate research leaders help plan at least one of the URES events, based on what they would like to see added to the series.”
James Tabery will take charge of the responsible conduct of research. He performs research focusing on the philosophy of science and applied ethics and is an adjunct associate professor of both pediatrics and internal medicine.
Behind research reproducibility will be Tisha Mentnech, an assistant librarian at the Eccles Health Science Library. The event will discuss why reproducibility is important and how it can ultimately impact your research and is one Shiver is especially interested in.
“I attend all of the events,” Shiver said. “I am an insufferable nerd, so I really enjoy all of the topics we cover. I can tell you that I am really excited about the upcoming Research Reproducibility event. This is a topic of growing concern and importance in the research community and we are lucky to be able to partner with a librarian in HSEB to host this event – Tisha Mentnech. I am really looking forward to it.”
Helping students learn how to properly write an abstract will be Christie Toth. Toth is the coordinator of departmental transfer initiatives and an assistant professor in writing and rhetoric studies.
Lorelei Rutledge will run a workshop in citation management. Rutledge is an assistant librarian at the Marriott Library and has research interests including strategies for assessment of library programs, leadership, mentorship and programming.
Kicking off July will be literature reviews with Jennifer Andrus. Andrus is an associate professor of English and writing and rhetoric studies and an assistant professor in the university writing program for writing and rhetoric studies.
Diving into how to effectively incorporate images will be David Belnap with his session of images in scientific writing. Belnap is a research associate professor of biology and biochemistry research.
Taylor Sparks, the director of materials characterization laboratory and assistant professor of materials science and engineering will take the lead on creating effective research posters.
Closing off the summer series will be Dustin Stokes, who will be discussing how to translate your research to a general audience. Stokes is the director of cognitive science minor and an associate professor in philosophy. His work focuses on the philosophy of the mind and cognitive science.
“All of the speakers are just absolutely well-educated on the subject … and so they provide the best advice they can give,” said Zhao.
Everyone is welcome to attend these events, even those who are not interested in performing research. Anyone interested in these topics can speak with experts, dip their feet into the ideas of research and jump into networking opportunities.
“We are grateful for our faculty partners for helping us host this series every semester,” said Shiver, “and I hope more and more students know about it to take advantage of the information being disseminated in the URES events. All are welcome all the time.”