What does undergraduate research look like at UVA?

By the time they graduate more than half of U.Va. students participate in undergraduate research either a part of a class or outside of the classroom.  But what does it mean to do research? The University of Virginia is a research university guided by a founding vision of discovery and innovation. In high school, students learn knowledge from textbooks and their teachers, but the research university exists to create and disseminate new knowledge. U.Va.’s faculty take part in this process of creating new knowledge through their scholarship and research. The national organization Council on Undergraduate Research defines undergraduate research as an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate in collaboration with a faculty mentor that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline. U.Va. students have the opportunity to participate in this process!

Students find numerous academic, professional, and personal benefits from participating in research. The experience can improve learning by supplementing knowledge from the classroom and lead to a meaningful relationship with a faculty mentor. Furthermore, employers seek the communication, problem solving, teamwork, and critical thinking skills students gain from research. Students also express the personal benefits of developing a sense of accomplishment and independence. You can read more about students’ experiences in undergraduate research here.

The Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) exists to encourage, promote, and support undergraduate student research at the University of Virginia. The office serves the UVA community by offering programs and funding that facilitate engagement of undergraduates with research experiences in all areas of scholarship. The office offers services to undergraduates interested in research including personal consultations, informational sessions, workshops, forums for presentations, a database of research opportunities, and administration of research grants. The office is also home to the Undergraduate Research Network, a special status student organization.

If you would like to know more about undergraduate research, then consider attending a “Getting Started in Undergraduate Research” workshop offered in the fall semester. This workshop will introduce you to strategies for finding a research position. Check the OUR website for other events held throughout the year including a fall research fair and a spring research symposium. The OUR staff is happy to meet individually with students to discuss the many undergraduate research opportunities available at the University of Virginia.

By Brian Cullaty
Brian Cullaty