Faculty Senate To Award First-Time Undergraduate Research Grants
During Feb. 2 Event
28, 2000 -- The University of Virginia Faculty Senate
will award grants of up to $4,000 next week to 26 outstanding undergraduate
students and their faculty mentors for support of innovative new
research projects in a variety of disciplines and schools. The students
will receive the new Faculty Senate Harrison Undergraduate Research
Awards during a ceremony Wed., Feb. 2 at 4 p.m. in the Dome Room
of the Rotunda. During the ceremony some of the award winners will
speak about their projects.
research awards are funded by a $100,000 gift from alumnus David
A. Harrison III, a retired investment banker who set up Harrison
Fund Awards during the past several years to recognize exceptional
faculty teaching and academic leadership. The Faculty Senate proposed
this year to use the money to recognize and fund outstanding undergraduate
research. This is the first time the Harrison Awards have provided
grants for this purpose.
awards emerged from the idea that we should publicly recognize the
strong interrelationship between teaching and scholarship," says
Robert M. Grainger, professor of biology who heads the Faculty Senate's
Research and Scholarship Committee. "We wanted to recognize and
enhance the research side of undergraduate training."
the fall, students were invited to apply for the grants by Dec.
1, 1999, and were required to describe their research project, detail
their budget requirements and plan of action, and how they would
collaborate with a faculty mentor. The selection committee reviewed
157 applications during the winter break, made their selections,
and notified the 26 winners on Jan. 15. The awards range from $1,880
to a maximum of $3,000, depending on the needs of the particular
project. Each student has a faculty mentor who will receive $1,000.
winning students will begin work on their projects this semester
and must complete their work by the end of summer. Final project
reports will be submitted to the Faculty Senate, and plans are being
developed for a way to highlight some of the projects next fall.
has inspired our selection committee is how inventive the students'
project proposals are," says Grainger. "The projects are not mere
reflections of what the student's faculty mentors are doing -- these
are bright, creative, well thought-out efforts to make unique contributions
to a particular field of learning. The students have demonstrated
enormous energy, enthusiasm, talent and drive. These are the criteria
we had, and the students came through shining."
says the committee wanted to make sure that the money would make
the difference in a student's ability to accomplish a research project.
the student needs to travel, for example, or get a break from a
job in order to do the work, we wanted to help make that happen."
such winner, Elsa A. Olivetti, an engineering/materials science
major, will use her grant to study how the bacteria Pseudononas
putida can be used to help clean up groundwater contamination.
plan to use the grant money to make two trips," Olivetti says. "One
to the labs at the University of Iowa where the bacteria strain
was developed, and the other to a field site where the bacteria
is actually being used in groundwater cleanup studies."
student, Jeffrey I. Marcus, an architecture major, is investigating
ways to provide security for public buildings while still representing
open-door democracy in the architecture.
light of the Oklahoma City bombing, and attacks on U.S. embassies,
it has become increasingly important for public buildings to balance
increased security with the desire to maintain democratic openness,"
Marcus says. "I plan to use my grant to visit one or two U.S. embassies,
as well as meet with experts on this subject in New York City and
Washington, D.C. The goal of my project is to design a U.S. embassy
as an exercise using the principles I learn during my investigation."
education major Jennifer A. Johnson will use her grant to look for
ways to improve the recruitment of minorities into the teaching
profession. She will visit high schools in Northern Virginia and
Hampton Roads to conduct surveys and to interview minority students
on their views of teaching as a career.
hope to gain insight to why more minorities are not interested in
the teaching profession," says Johnson. "I then plan to develop
recommendations for ways to recast teaching as a desirable career
choice for more minorities."
to Grainger, the Faculty Senate is hoping the University can find
a way to fund undergraduate research awards as an annual honor for
the most innovative student scholars and researchers.
is so much talent and drive among the undergraduates at this university,
it would be a shame not to continue this initiative," he says.
student Marcus says the awards provide an opportunity for students
to experience college as more than merely a route to a career.
should inspire creative thought and open people to new ideas, to
become enlightened. These new research awards open up new opportunities
for undergraduates to do exactly that, to explore ideas beyond Grounds,
and to come back with new perspectives."
Fariss Samarrai, (804) 924-3778