The College of Science has created a new Web site to publicize undergraduate research opportunities.
Students who visit the site are led through a three-step process during which they identify opportunities, select a research interest and connect with faculty. The site, hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research, is used to guide students and encourage them to find research opportunities in many different areas including, science, technology, engineering and math.
The Web site is accessible through the new UA homepage which will replace the current homepage later this semester.
The site allows students to search for information about research opportunities on and off campus and leads them to other sites with more specific information, said Glenda Gentile, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research.
The Web site will also list research opportunities at other universities, primarily projects funded by the National Science Foundation, said Gail Burd, vice provost of academic affairs and a distinguished professor of molecular and cellular biology.
This project began two years ago and was deemed a necessity because students who participated in undergraduate research benefitted themselves and others, said Elliott Cheu, associate dean of the UA College of Science.
""Research has shown that students that do undergraduate research perform better in their course work,"" Cheu said. ""In addition, their classmates, somewhat surprisingly, do better.""
Student benefits are not limited to better performance in classes, Burd said.
""Several national studies have shown that undergraduate research improves undergraduate retention, provides more satisfaction with a major in science, and increases the percentage of students who go to graduate and professional school after graduation,"" she said.
Undergraduate research is also a way that students can better connect with faculty in their areas of interest and form a stronger relationship with them, Cheu said.
""Currently, all faculty members that are associated, in some way, with the College of Science are included in the database,"" Cheu added. ""We welcome any other faculty that offer undergraduate research opportunities to contact us for inclusion in the database.""
The site is maintained by the College of Science, but faculty members are responsible for keeping the site's content and information fresh, Cheu said.
The idea for a database came to Burd ""in response to a need to assist students with finding a research mentor,"" she said. ""It was Glenda Gentile's idea to create a new Web site for undergraduates who want to do research.""
The site's designers were inspired by the Undergraduate Biology Research Program (UBRP) at the UA, but wanted to reach out to more than just a select group of students, according to Burd.
The site took two years to construct because all the data had to be collected, sorted and presented in a user-friendly way, Cheu said.