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Education Beyond the Classroom


Teaching highly motivated undergraduates often involves taking education beyond the classroom and working directly with them on independent projects. At the annual Undergraduate Research Opportunity Fair, for instance, scores of faculty members offered a wide array of opportunities for students, including places in their laboratories, internships, and independent study. Opportunities like these help students to take an active role in assembling the knowledge needed to meet meaningful intellectual challenges.

The University offers a growing number of competitive awards to support these student efforts:

  • Two undergraduate researchers received Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation scholarships designed to promote research in chemistry.
  • Eight pairs of undergraduate and graduate students received Double Hoo Research Grants. The program offers graduate students the rare opportunity to mentor undergraduates, while providing undergraduates with hands-on research experience.
  • Twenty-four students received Harrison Undergraduate Research Awards, while two others had their research underwritten by the Stull family of Dallas and the Finger family of Houston. Projects ranged from determining the best animal models for human pancreatic cancer to China’s use of soft power to acquire mineral resources in the developing world.
  • Twenty students received Jefferson Public Citizens Awards to undertake public service projects in locations as near as Charlottesville and as far as Nicaragua and Zambia.
  • Four students spent the summer on the Lawn, conducting research projects focusing on the Academical Village. The William R. Kenan, Jr., Endowment Fund for the Academical Village is funding their research.
  • Two students received Senator John W. Warner Public Leadership Undergraduate Research Awards to study disaster management for climate change and assess the value of zero-tolerance policies in schools.

Seven students received grants from the Undergraduate Award for Arts program. Their work will include such projects as writing a novel on revolution in contemporary America, creating sculpture and prints that explore gardens and environmental change, producing a film about Shanghai, and studying the art of aerial acrobatics.

A University-wide poster competition held during inauguration week underscored the extent to which students—both undergraduate and graduate—are involved in research. The team behind the winning entry in the Biosciences and Health category—"3D Dual Modality Scanner for Breast Cancer Detection"—consisted of two physics graduate students, a biomedical engineering graduate student, and an undergraduate physics major as well an associate professor of radiology and a radiology staff member. Combined, students and faculty submitted 220 entries in seven categories, and President Sullivan distributed the awards.

The University is focusing on expanding fellowship support for graduate students, an initiative critical to the long-term well-being of the University. Graduate students help attract and retain outstanding faculty and serve as role models and mentors for undergraduates. Graduate student support of note this year included the following:

  • The Faculty Senate awarded five students dissertation-year fellowships.
  • The University selected its first two Humboldt Fellows, part of an exchange program with the Humboldt University in Berlin.
  • Fifteen humanities students received summer subsidies, courtesy of a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
  • The University’s creative writing program received funding to establish a $300,000 endowment from the Joseph F. McCrindle Foundation to award a Henfield Prize for the best work of fiction by one of its graduate students. U.Va. is one of five universities nationwide whose creative writing programs were chosen to host the Henfield Prizes.