Fifty undergraduates are staking their claim to a novel research opportunity as the first participants in the Charlotte Research Scholars program. These select scholars will work on new and original research projects related to their disciplines to gain greater exposure to the discovery process, while working with faculty mentors.
Nearly 170 undergraduates with interests in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and social sciences applied for the program’s inaugural summer edition. The experience is under way through support from the Division for Academic Affairs and management by the Graduate School.
"Part of the value in attending a research university as an undergraduate is being able to learn in an environment that allows you to take part in the process of discovery," said Provost Joan Lorden. "The Charlotte Research Scholars program will give participants an intense immersion experience in research working with faculty, graduate students and other professionals on topics that they might otherwise only read about."
– Joan Lorden, Provost
According to officials, these young researchers will work closely with University faculty members on various research projects. More than 125 faculty members sought the opportunity to be part of the program and to mentor the scholars. Dennis Livesay, a faculty member in the Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics, is the program coordinator.
"Doing research is a skill and can be further developed by participation and mentoring," Srinivas Akella, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, stated. "By exposing our undergraduates to the fun of doing research, we enhance our ability to recruit trained, top-notch students for our graduate programs. Undergraduate students often do amazing things because they don't know what cannot be done."
In addition to research activities, scholars will participate in weekly professional development training. Sessions will include responsible conduct of research; how to develop a competitive research fellowship application; academic resume preparation; professional communication tools; and an introduction to the graduate school application process, including tips and techniques for taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
The Charlotte Scholars Research Program concludes Wednesday, July 25. Scholars, along with students participating in other research programs on campus, will participate in a research symposium starting at 9:00 AM in the Student Union. This event is free and open to the public.
Organizers of the Charlotte Research Scholars program plan to expand efforts beyond STEM and social sciences to include the humanities and other disciplines in the future.
"The program is yet another catalyst for continuing the University’s tradition of growing research opportunities for undergraduates while encouraging outstanding students to enroll in graduate programs at North Carolina’s urban research institution," said Karla Stanchina, manager of communications and student outreach for the Graduate School.