All students at the University of West Georgia are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities to enhance their college experience. Most are encouraged to join sports or different clubs and associations. The honors college wants to elevate all students’ education by encouraging them to participate in undergraduate research.
Undergraduate research is the collaboration between a professor or mentor and an undergraduate student(s) to study research on a specific topic of their choosing. This research can be submitted to different research conferences across the states to showcase findings and compete with other students from different universities.
Not only is undergraduate research encouraged for all students, it is a graduation requirement for some. “We want all of the honors college students to have at least one research experience before they graduate,” said Stacey Rowland, Manager of Undergraduate Research at UWG. “It is now a criteria for honors college distinction.”
Rowland is housed in the honors college and works with students to facilitate their research. “I try to connect students with a faculty mentor to do research so they can present at a conference somewhere, whether it is on campus or off,” Rowland explained.
The main on campus research events are Research Day and Big Night held in the Spring. Research day allows students across the campus to present their research from across the disciplines and each particular college. The top student in each college will have the opportunity to present at Big Night. Big Night follows Research Day and it is a celebration of undergraduate research.
“I would like to increase the level of participation across the entire university, not just in the honors college, but across all of the disciplines within the institution,” Rowland expressed. “I am working with the undergraduate research committee now to think of new ways to increase that participation, especially with our annual Big Night. We would like more faculty, students and community members to participate in Big Night so it can really be a true celebration of undergraduate research. This is also a great opportunity for students to see what research is going on throughout campus. This could give them ideas for starting their own undergraduate research.”
There are also many different conferences all over America where students can apply. “We promote four or five conferences a year,” Rowland explained. “The Georgia Undergraduate Research Conference (GURC) that is in the fall each year. The National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR) in the spring. The Georgia Collegiate Honors Council Conference (GCHC) in the early spring and the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference (NCHC) in November each year. Then there are other conferences where students may get accepted to present, and the honors college will help funding, but those students typically go with their faculty advisor, such as the South Eastern Chemistry Conference (SERMAC) and occasionally the National Social Science Association (NSSA) conference in the spring.”
All students from every discipline and subject matter can participate in research. “Undergraduate research at UWG is interpreted broadly across the disciplines,” Rowland conveyed. “Not only can students participate in Math and science research, but they can study Arts and Humanities as well. It is across all disciplines.”
“Undergraduate Research is beneficial for all students, Rowland declared. “It is about standing out among your peers. And these are the skillsets that we want students to build.”