Research Initiative

The Winthrop University Undergraduate Research Initiative (WUURI) supports a student-centered learning environment that fosters student research, scholarship, and creative activities. The initiative encourages students and faculty mentors to collaborate in the design and implementation of projects and the dissemination of results.

Questions about how and why you should be involved in undergraduate research, and how to find a faculty mentor.

What is Undergraduate Research?

We recognize undergraduate research as student research, scholarship, and/or creative activities where students and faculty mentors collaborate in the design and implementation of projects and the dissemination of results (Undergraduate Research and Deep Learning Statement, 2006).

Why Do Undergraduate Research?

Participating in undergraduate research will help you:

  • DEVELOP a one-on-one mentoring relationship with a faculty member that will earn you a great recommendation letter, a necessity for acceptance in to medical school, law school, and most professional and graduate programs.
  • Help CLARIFY your academic and career interests and goals.
  • ACQUIRE knowledge in your academic field that transcends classroom study.
  • ENHANCE critical skills in communication, independent thinking, creativity, and problem solving.
  • ENHANCE professional and academic credentials to support applications for scholarships, awards, career employment, and entry into graduate and professional schools.
  • ENGAGE in the creation of new knowledge on the cutting edge of an academic discipline and apply that knowledge to real world problems.
  • PARTICIPATE directly in the University's central mission of scientific discovery, scholarly activity, and artistic creation.

How Can You Find a Mentor?

(Excerpts from Center for Science Education [CSE])

Research the possibilities. It is likely that you have a few topics that truly catch your attention. Use the local media, library, and the web to seek additional information. Talk to your academic advisor and to your instructors for suggestions.

Think about what interests you.

Look for opportunities on and off campus. Do your homework and find out what they are working on. Contact them by e-mail or phone and explain you are interested in working with them.

Find potential mentors who are working on what interests you.

Prepare for the Interview

Why should this busy stranger agree to mentor your research? The answer is simple: you would be an asset to their research. As an undergraduate, you are not expected to be a fully trained expert; however, you should have a general idea (the more detailed, the better) of what this researcher's work entails.

Bring a list of questions:

  • What kinds of projects might be available for you to work on?
  • What kind of a commitment do you need to make? (hours/week, expectations)
  • Is there funding available?
  • Can you do the research for course credit?

Follow-up on the Interview

Make time to call or send a note thanking the researcher for meeting with you. A short e-mail will do. If the researcher is unable to offer you his or her support, do not be discouraged. Think of this interview as good practice for the next one. If the interview leads to an offer to collaborate, set up a time to further discuss the project, and ask for materials or references to help you prepare.