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 March 1, 2020) to earn a 2020-2021 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, since renewed on a yearly basis, reward students who enter—and show promise of significantly contributing to—faculty-led research environments.
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 visual and performing 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, 2019-2020 URF winners, named last summer, will participate in the April 2020 Scholars Day). To assure adequate commitment to a research project, eligibility for the 2020-2021 school year will be limited to freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, in addition to seniors who will not graduate prior to May 2021. They will therefore be able to participate in the April 2021 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 (students need not be members of the Honors College to apply). The college will receive applications, along with a recommendation from 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 such awards during their undergraduate career. Thus, if you earned a URF last year, we encourage you to reapply, as long as you are not graduating prior to May 2021.
Because different disciplines define research and creative expression in varied ways, criteria for admission into research endeavors will remain under the auspices of our several 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
While introducing students to the joys and challenges of systematic research, UNT's Undergraduate Research Fellowship (URF) prepares students for rewarding careers by having them learn research methodology under the direction of their partnered faculty mentors while encouraging the development of important marketable skills such as Oral and Written Communication, Critical Thinking, Teamwork, Empirical and Quantitative Skills, Personal and Social Responsibility, and Leadership.
Undergraduate Research Fellows and faculty mentors who choose to partner with Career Connect are likely already using these important marketable skills in their research. By partnering with Career Connect, the Undergraduate Research Fellow and faculty mentor have the support and tools to assess, validate, and showcase the skills developed and strengthened through their research partnership. The Undergraduate Research Fellow completes the high-impact experience and is awarded UNT-validated proof of the experience and assessment of skills in the form of digital credentials as part of the UNT marketable-skills transcript, which can be shared with prospective employers or graduate schools.
How it works: Faculty mentors and Undergraduate Research Fellows have the option of reaching out to Career Connect to identify what marketable skills students will accrue through their research fellowship. Connect supports faculty and students in identifying the skill-building components of the partnership, developing an ePortfolio or other evidence of learning, supporting skills assessments, and providing tutorials for any ePortfolio, learner record, or Canvas integration that may be needed. Done well, the assessment of marketable skills should not add significantly to the faculty or student workload and it should enhance the value of the experience for all invested.
Efficacy research by Connect’s Assessment Specialist, Dr. Scott Peecksen, is demonstrating that partnering with Connect has positive impacts on both student retention and GPA. Each semester, causal methodologies and a rigorous group-comparison design is being utilized to assess the impact of Career Connect at UNT. If you interested in learning more, please contact Career Connect. Jordan.Rogers@unt.edu or 940-369-6173.
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 2020-2021 academic year, will not graduate prior to May 2021. Student and mentors may certainly begin a project in the spring and summer of 2020, but the fellowship period formally covers 2020-2021.
- 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.
- 2020-2021 URF winners must submit poster presentations, papers, or brief performing-arts productions on Scholars Day of 2021.
- 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.