With undergraduate research as valued and important in our society as it has ever been, the need for energetic, caring, dedicated faculty mentors to assist undergraduates in research projects has never been greater. The promotion of undergraduate research through SCCUR and other venues around the country relies directly on the sacrifice and vision of individuals willing to involve students in exciting, cutting-edge, important research.
Mentoring undergraduate research students has countless rewards for both the students and faculty members involved. This has never been more true than in today’s society, in which undergraduate research is held in extremely high regard. As a faculty mentor, there are many ways to get started on a program of research that involves undergraduates.
Recruiting Students for Undergraduate Research
Research students can be recruited from a variety of sources:
- Look within your own courses for signs of interest. Many institutions have special opportunities, such as honors programs, for students. These students are often expected to conduct a senior thesis project with a faculty member. Try to identify students who might be good candidates for just such a project. Invite promising students to come talk with you about potential research work that you can jointly pursue.
- Talk to your colleagues about students who might be eager to pursue research with a faculty member. Get the advice of colleagues with prior experience working with undergraduates in research.
- Attend undergraduate research conferences and presentations at your institution and in the local area. Some students may already have a project to share, but other students who may be looking for opportunities should be close at hand as well.
- Never miss an opportunity to tell a student about your interest in research and in working with students. Even if the student does not ultimately join your research venture, word will travel quickly to others. It is only a matter of time before hopeful candidates should surface.
Further Resources for Mentoring Undergraduates
For some basics of undergraduate research, prospective faculty mentors should consult What Is Undergraduate Research? on this site.
Other online resources include the Council on Undergraduate Research-page is blank on sccur.org website.
Sending Students to SCCUR and other conferences
Once you have a project with a research student well under way, it is never too early to consider opportunities for your student to share his work with others through a professional venue. Such experiences are invaluable in the professional maturation of the student, as well as his or her resume, and should be highly encouraged. In addition to opportunities within your institution, pay attention to announcements that may reach you about upcoming local and national conferences such as SCCUR. Check the presentation guidelines to ensure that your student is (or will be) prepared to comply in time to submit an abstract and register for the conference.
Faculty Involvement with the Annual SCCUR Conference
A great deal of effort is required to put together SCCUR each year. There are always ways for faculty to help the conference to run smoothly, in addition to encouraging their own students to participate in the conference. Some of the areas of greatest need include:
- reading and evaluating student abstracts to determine whether or not the student’s presentation is appropriate for the conference.
- moderating sessions of the conference to ensure that the presentation schedule stays on time, lead the question-and-answer period at the end of the presentation, introduce speakers, and manage problems that may arise in a particular session.
- attending student presentations to bolster support for undergraduate research and contribute to the student speakers’ overall positive experience in the conference.
- organizing and/or attending round-table discussions as a means of interacting and networking with other scholars at the conference with similar professional interests.
- increasing awareness about SCCUR and other undergraduate research conferences throughout the year in interactions with students, mentors, and supporters in general.
Faculty interested in any of these activities (or wishing to volunteer specifically for the first two) should contact the annual conference organizers.