Feb. 22-28, 2002
Back Issues
No layoffs, employees assured
New office champions undergrad research
VA Book festival, March 20-24, will open minds as well as books
Old textbooks find new life in rural high schools

To the point -- with William Morrish

Women engineers building school’s excellence
Sullivan Award nominations sought
Hot Links -- Undergraduate Research Network
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Henry Taylor to read Feb. 28
Students have their day in the sun in solar home contest
Nicole Hurd and Ed Ayers
Photo by Matt Kelly
Nicole Hurd and Ed Ayers

New office champions undergrad research

By Matt Kelly

The University is expanding the College Fellowship Office in Garrett Hall to encompass undergraduate research.

The office, to be managed by Nicole Hurd, will act as a clearinghouse for information about undergraduate research opportunities, both at the University and around the country. Aside from promoting research opportunities, it will also support students in their research, work with them on grant proposals and showcase their work. Hurd, who has been working part time, will now become a full-time employee.

The new office, to be called the Office for Fellowships and Undergraduate Research, was announced at the presentation ceremony for the Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards, in the Rotunda Dome Room Feb. 14. Faculty Senate chair Robert Grainger was joined by Arts & Sciences Dean Edward L. Ayers and Vice President and Provost Gene Block, in describing the new effort.

The office was the brainchild of President John T. Casteen III, former Arts & Sciences Dean Melvyn Leffler and former assistant dean Steve Plog. It was brought to fruition by Grainger, Ayers and Block.

Grainger also praised Shadi Kourosh and Lauren Purnell, students who helped create the Undergraduate Research Network, for their efforts generating and pursuing the idea. The network will be a student-run component of the office.

Purnell spoke about how she and Kourosh worked out details of what undergraduate researchers need on a chalkboard in an old barn in Italy last summer.

Grainger said the two students approached him and later made a presentation to the Faculty Senate about the network idea as a way for students to share information with each other. Then Grainger talked with Ayers and Block about an office of undergraduate research. Everyone was enthusiastic about it, but there were concerns about funding. Grainger credited Ayers’ and Block’s offices with supporting the effort, along with Casteen who contributed some money from the David A. Harrison Trust.

One of the outstanding characteristics of U.Va. — what Ayers called “a joy” — is combining the benefits of a research school with those of a four-year liberal arts college. The new office adds another piece to that picture. He praised Hurd and assistant deans William M. Wilson and Lynn Davis, who act as advisers for the fellowship office.

Undergraduates benefit from having faculty members whose teaching enthusiasm is enhanced by the research they perform, even if it sometimes cuts into time with students, Block said. Undergraduate researchers also benefit from working closely with senior faculty members in the lab, and the faculty can be energized by students’ zeal for research. He noted that student authors had been listed on research papers from his department.

“I think it’s spectacular, terrific,” said Block. “This will coordinate undergraduate research opportunities.”



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