As a research university, UR has a myriad of research opportunities available for students across all disciplines. A particular selling point for attracting prospective students is the vast opportunities for students to find these research positions. With this reputation comes the responsibility for these positions to be easy to find for students. However, there is a noticeable communication gap between students looking for research and professors with such positions.
The Office of Undergraduate Research’s main goal is trying to bridge this gap through several initiatives such as an interactive job posting where professors can post openings they have, grants available for students conducting research and annual research fairs. However, these plans are only a start to bringing students and faculty together in successful research relationships.
Half of this solution must come directly from the faculty. Faculty members are the key to linking research needs. Without faculty support of the new Web site, for example, it could easily be nothing more than a few postings, not offering as much for students as was originally intended. Currently, the most popular method of finding research is to simply talk to one’s professors in a field of interest. But the Office can help students who either don’t have strong relationships with professors, such as underclassmen, or have broad areas of research interest.
To help these students especially, the Office should work with departments to appoint one faculty member to coordinate research opportunities in each field. This chair would be knowledgeable of all the research efforts within a department and work with the Office of Undergraduate Research to publicize its efforts. These positions could work in the same way as those already established for the academic advisers of each department, where the research chairs makes themselves available to the general student population.
Each department handles undergraduate research differently. However, by uniting each department’s efforts through the Office of Undergraduate Research, it gives students the ability to more readily find the work they are looking for, as well as provides faculty the researchers they need. Ultimately, this would help fulfill UR’s promise as a bustling research institution.