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New undergraduate program empowers students to research like kings

By Ali Preissing, For the Miami Student

Photo by Jalen Walker

Undergraduate research just got a whole lot easier for Miami students. The creation of the Office of Research for Undergraduates (ORU) will provide a one-stop shop for undergraduates looking to get involved in research.

In the works since 2012, the ORU received endorsement by University Senate, the Provost and President Hodge the following year, according to Director of Undergraduate Research Joseph Johnson. The new office will be located on the first floor of King Library, which will provide students with convenient access to King's many other resources.

"In the past, students had to navigate the possibilities for research on their own, which could often be confusing, daunting and frustrating," Johnson said. "Many students didn't know where to begin, or to whom they could turn for assistance.

Now, there is a central place where students can receive the answers they need and the direction to help them succeed in research endeavors and creative activities."

Overall, the office is seeking to increase efficiency with research projects.

"The office will be a place associated with the transferring of content from books to students to a place of active learning and engagement," Interim Provost Raymond Gorman said.

The office's primary mission is to encourage students to explore research in any area of s

tudy. The office encourages students to reach their full potential of research by offering a number of scholarships and programs. These include the undergraduate research award program, Undergraduate Presentation Awards (UPA), Undergraduate Summer Scholars (USS) and professor supervision of students.

"A critical role of the ORU is also to connect students with the other bountiful resources Miami has to offer, such as those of the Statistical Consulting Center, Inquiry Center and Howe Center for Writing Excellence, to name a few," Johnson said.

Open to undergraduate students of any discipline, they are encouraged to make appointments but drop-ins are also welcome. Here, Johnson said students receive individual consultation, assistance from staff about getting started, designing projects, obtaining funding, data analysis, and publishing or presenting their work after projects are completed.

The office is primarily focused on Miami undergraduate students. Johnson estimates that there are over 2,000 students doing undergraduate research annually.

"It will be beneficial to find out about research opportunities in the ORU," junior Neena Patel said; Patel did undergraduate research for her localization of a protein using gene fusion last year. "It is important to have personal face to face interactions with professors to build that rapport."

With the ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for next week, the office hopes to bring in many more students interested in research.

"The core constituency of the ORU is Miami's undergraduate students, as the name suggests," Johnson said. "To serve these students and achieve the ORU's goals, the office will also work with graduate students, faculty, and staff, such as by providing opportunities for more effective mentoring of undergraduates."