By SARA GIBONEY
KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney student Parth Chaudhari, a senior biology major, was sure that he would pursue a career in medicine.
But after spending a summer researching the microbial diversity in high alkaline lakes in the Sandhills, Chaudhari is hooked on research and considering it as a career possibility.
“If you get a chance to do student research, go for it. It’s a great experience,” said Chaudhari of Gujarat, India.
“Research definitely prepares you [for your career].”
UNK’s award-winning program in Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity brings students into faculty’s laboratories, studios, fields and clinics, where the students work alongside scholars, and independently, mentored by faculty to explore and build on their knowledge – managing projects, solving problems, and communicating ideas.
Chaudhari and about 130 other UNK students will present their research and creative projects at the 16th annual Student Research Day Thursday (April 10) in the Nebraskan Student Union.
Students from all disciplines will present their scholarly and creative projects. Nearly 80 students will present posters featuring their project. Others will give oral presentations, musical performances or have art exhibitions.
From 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. the public is welcome to the oral presentations and open poster viewing, followed by an awards ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Prizes are awarded for both oral and poster presentations.
Independent research and creative activity allows students in all disciplines to take knowledge and skills learned in the classroom and apply them to unique challenges. Working closely with faculty experts, students can engage in the academic enterprise in a way that develops critical thinking, project management, and presentation skills that will be valuable in a lifetime of learning.
“If you do independent research, you retain more from class and do better in subsequent classes,” said John Falconer, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity.
“Students are also able to develop at their own pace. They’re not in a classroom setting, they’re working on their own.”
Falconer added that independent research allows students to have ownership over their education. Students are doing work because it will help them get to where they want to be in the future.
The number of students participating in undergraduate research is increasing at UNK.
This year, 30 percent of UNK students participate in independent research or creative projects under the mentorship of faculty. Just three years ago, 25 percent of UNK students participated in scholarly or creative projects outside of the classroom.
In the College of Natural and Social Sciences, 80 percent of the students do research.
Students can participate in the Summer Student Research Program, a program to support student research during the summer, and the Undergraduate Research Fellows Program, which supports student research and creative activity during the academic year. The Undergraduate Research Council also awards grants for student scholarly projects.
Source: John Falconer, 308-865-8702, firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529, email@example.com