Trent Tam Sing, Rachel Brinker, and Nicole Santorno are part of a growing trend in the College of undergraduates doing research. Trent is working on a collaborative research project with the College of Engineering that could change airline industry practices for seating transfers for people with disabilities. Rachel is studying innovative programs that provide education about hunger and food insecurity. And Nicole is assisting adults with an exercise regimen designed to see if whole-body vibration workouts increase strength and balance in hip-replacement patients.
As recipients of Undergraduate Research Awards Program (URAP) grants, students may apply as early as their sophomore year to work alongside prominent faculty on their research. Depending on their previous research experience, students selected each term work as apprentices, earning up to $400 per term, or researchers, earning up to $800 per term. For Trent, the money was icing on the cake. “I feel lucky to be working with Mike Pavol. He’s a great person, teacher, leader, and friend,” he says. “To have the financial support for me meant the difference between having to work or getting to have this amazing experience.”
URAP is partially funded by contributions to the Dean’s Fund for Excellence. “Students find out about all aspects of research and implications for their discipline,” says dean Tammy Bray, “and faculty from all of our departments are pleased to provide a meaningful research experience that often leads to career choices for their students.” Her goal is to attract private gifts to endow the URAP program so that more students each term may have research opportunities.