Undergrad Research

On Jan. 29, Will Hoyer, Interim Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, Dr. Evan Larson and students Bridget White and Sydney Hahlbeck spoke to the Student Senate about bringing more undergraduate research to campus.

Student Senators posed questions, primarily about how the proposed increase in undergraduate research would be funded.

“We apply for grants, mostly,” Associate Professor of Geography Dr. Evan Larson said. Larson works with students doing research in the Tree-Ring, Earth and Environmental Science Lab on campus. “Sometimes faculty pay is written in the grant, but often faculty members don’t get extra pay for the research they are doing with undergraduate students.”

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire was brought up as a model for undergraduate research, though it was noted that UW-Eau Claire has significantly more funding. Some of which comes from the students paying an extra tuition that goes specifically to undergraduate research explained Dr. Karen Havholm Assistant Vice Chancellor for Research and Sponsored Programs and Director of the Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Research Collaboration at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

In 2016, UW-Eau Claire received the Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments by the Council on Undergraduate Research. “This is because we have a strong infrastructure supporting faculty research,” Havholm said. According to Havholm, close to one million dollars is spent each year on undergraduate research.

“I would like to expand the opportunities available to students through the differential tuition money that funded the program known as PACCE in the past,” Hoyer said in an email interview.” Students would be able to apply for money to support research and other scholarly and creative activities and travel to present their work.”

Senior engineering physics major Bridget White explained in an email interview that having the opportunity to conduct research has drastically changed her experience at UW-Platteville. White also noted in the Student Senate meeting that undergraduate research allowed her to understand the real-life applications of the concepts she has learned in her classes.

“Before participating in undergraduate research, I found it hard to engage in on-campus activities. Since joining research, I have become very involved on campus, and I now work hard to try to encourage others to participate in research,” White said.