Undergraduate Students Showcase Findings from Research Opportunities
The benefits of building relationships with faculty, hands-on workforce training, resume building and distinguishing yourself are all selling points for doing undergraduate research. Oh! And, according to students and faculty who have participated in undergraduate research, it can even be fun.
Students are able to reap each of those benefits by participating in any of the many undergraduate research opportunities offered at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. One of those opportunities includes the Student Undergraduate Research Opportunity (SUROP) program. SUROP provides students with a $2,000 tuition grant and covers up to $1,250 in reimbursable expenses for projects undertaken during the summer.
This past summer, 23 undergraduate students worked with faculty mentors through SUROP as they researched various topics of interest. Research topics came from a number of influences, from past research experiences to television shows. Biochemistry senior Laurie Ray said her research topic, “Expanding Applications of Green Fluorescent Protein Expression to Include Criminal Justice Reform,” was a result of the Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer.”
“My project centers on expanding the application of Green Fluorescent Protein to include its use as a blood marker in collected blood samples, such as those collected for DNA testing,” Ray wrote in her abstract.
Students learned to write and submit grant proposals, conduct research, design poster presentations to display their research findings and learn to communicate those findings to various audiences.
From the perspective of a faculty mentor, UMKC Undergraduate Research Director Jane Greer said she enjoys sharing in the excitement of students she works with. “These projects are self-chosen and, because of that, students are more passionate and excited about their work.”
As part of their research, some students had the opportunity to travel to various areas of the country to study. English junior Kennady Gales traveled to Washington, DC to study the regional impact of text by reviewing zines at the University of Maryland’s Michelle Smith Performance Arts Library. She conducted an “analysis of critical regionalism in zines throughout the straight edge punk subculture.” Gales said UMKC’s special collections library sparked her interest in studying zines during her previous research experience as a EUReka (Experiences in Undergraduate Research Courses) student researcher.
There are several ways to get involved in undergraduate research at UMKC: EUReka (Experiences in Undergraduate Research) Courses allow beginning researchers an opportunity to get their feet wet, then progress to programs such as SEARCH (Students Engaged in the Arts and Research) grants for students undertaking research during the academic year, and SUROP, to name a few.
“Undergraduate research is so much more than simply checking the box on student learning outcomes,” said Greer. “This is about students bringing their passion and enthusiasm, and faculty sharing their commitment to research with the next generation.”