Have you ever wished to conduct guided research in your field of study, gaining invaluable experience, unique credentials, and a faculty champion? If so, read on to learn how you can apply this spring (by April 9, 2017) to earn a 2017-2018 Undergraduate Research Fellowship Placement.
In 2016 the Offices of the President, Provost, Vice President for Finance and Administration, and Vice President for Research and Innovation—in collaboration with the Dean of TAMS and the Honors College—announced an initiative to enhance academic excellence via the expansion of mentor-based undergraduate research across all disciplines and their curricula. They collectively pledged $125,000 for up to 250 Undergraduate Research Fellowships, each funded at $500. Those fellowships will reward students who enter—and show promise of significantly contributing to—faculty-led research environments. There will also be a $10,000 award each year for the college that demonstrates the greatest level of research excellence, as judged by the highest percentage of Undergraduate Research Fellows relative to overall undergraduate enrollment among the colleges. That $10,000 will fund up to 20 additional research fellowships within that college.
Such research will occur in a host of settings—whether in labs, on teams (in interaction with faculty and their graduate research assistants), or under individual faculty mentorship across the disciplines, including the creative arts. These students, in joint petition with their professorial research mentors, will undertake competitive application for a UNT Undergraduate Research Fellowship (URF). In cases where faculty mentors already have grants to cover the cost of student assistants, the student may become an Undergraduate Research Fellow, but without further remuneration. Other students will receive a $500 award after participating in the Scholars Day event (see below) that corresponds to the year of their fellowship. (Thus, 2016-2017 URF winners, named last summer, will participate in the April 2017 Scholars Day). To assure adequate commitment to a research project, this year’s eligibility will be limited to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, in addition to seniors who will not graduate prior to May 2018. They will therefore be able to participate in the April 2018 Scholars Day and receive the $500 fellowship directly into their UNT accounts.
Although the competition is campus-wide, processing of submissions will occur within the Honors College and TAMS. The college will receive applications, along with a recommendation from the prospective research mentors. As mentioned above, all students who become Undergraduate Research Fellows will then take part in the spring-semester Scholars Day corresponding to the year of their award.
At the Scholars Day event, students choose to present research in the form of a poster, papers, or brief performing-arts productions. Students may reapply for an Undergraduate Research Fellowship on a yearly basis and may earn up to three during their undergraduate career. Thus, if you earned a URF last year, we encourage you to reapply.
Because different disciplines define research and creative expression in varied ways, criteria for admission into research endeavors will remain under the auspices of our colleges and individual departments. At the same time, our undergraduate-research initiative will encourage a dramatic increase in the number of students who engage in faculty-mentored research and beyond-the-classroom creative projects. We therefore look forward to seeing an ever-increasing number of students use their superb classroom learning as points of departure for guided research and enhanced productivity.
Career Connect Option of the URF
Beyond providing an opportunity to learn the research methodology of faculty members, the UNT Undergraduate Research Fellowship (URF) can prepare students for rewarding careers by encouraging the growth of teamwork, critical thinking, and communication skills. Should the student and mentor choose a community-based URF, the project may be Career Connect eligible if the research provides real-world experience and if you and your faculty mentor choose to work with a community partner. A Career Connect research project becomes a part of the student’s Connect e-portfolio, which you may share with prospective employers or graduate schools. If you and your professor wish to participate in the Connect option of the URF, please contact Dr. Mike Simmons for more information on how to structure your URF proposal to assure Connect eligibility. The Career Connect team is eager to work with students, faculty, and community partners to build and strengthen these research projects. Career-Connect applications that successfully make it through the conventional application and assessment process for the URF will later be judged for Career Connect certification exclusively by the Career Connect Office.
Summary of eligibility:
- During the semester of the year of application, students must be freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, who, in the course of conducting research throughout the 2017-2018 academic year, will not graduate prior to May, 2018. Student and mentors may certainly begin a project in the spring and summer of 2017, but the fellowship period formally covers 2017-2018.
- In collaboration with their faculty research mentor, students must submit a 150-200 word statement describing their research project, along with prospects for co-authorship or distinguished performance or exhibition venues..
- Faculty mentors must participate in the upload application process, testifying that the area of research falls within their range of research, teaching, or interest.
- 2017-2018 URF winners must submit poster presentations, papers, or brief performing-arts productions on Scholars Day of 2018.
- Students are ineligible if they have already earned three Undergraduate Research Fellowships.
- Students will lose their URF if they switch research mentors following the application period or if they fail to communicate on a regular basis with their research mentors. Only if a research mentor leaves UNT, or if health-related matters prevent mentors from continuing to supervise their students, will students gain permission to switch mentors or projects.