Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research at Union College had its origin in the first third of the 20th century, when chemistry professor Charles Hurd began involving students in his colloid chemistry investigations. Since then, undergraduate research has taken hold in all disciplines at the College, making this endeavor the lynchpin of the Union education. By the mid-1960s several disciplines at Union had established a senior research thesis requirement, and in 1978 the College began funding faculty-mentored student research in all disciplines. This was followed by the creation of funded summer research opportunities, again in all disciplines at the College, in 1986. The Steinmetz Symposium, a celebration of student research, has been held yearly since 1991.

As a college long committed to undergraduate research, Union encourages its students to ask “why” and “how”. One of the most common ways we encourage this attitude is to foster close working relationships between faculty and students. In every academic department, students regularly work one-on-one with their professors. Our approach has several benefits:

  • Students develop a critical understanding of their field through learning the current state of knowledge.
  • Students gain experience and confidence in knowing when and how to ask the right questions to solve difficult problems.
  • Students often have the satisfying experience of coauthoring publications and delivering papers at conferences.

   Yaw Kwarteng presents at American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 2011

 Yaw Kwarteng presents at American Society of Biochemistry and

Molecular Biology Conference, Washington, DC, 2011


If you like the idea of independent study and research, you can explore many of these opportunities at Union. Our faculty are encouraging, and all of our research facilities are available to undergraduates. Here are some specific examples of the ways that student-faculty collaborative scholarly activity is promoted at Union :

  • Summer Undergraduate Research : More than 100 students are supported each summer by the College on independent projects with a sponsoring faculty member.
  • Student Research Grants : The College provides financial support for more than 100 students every year, helping them pay for senior thesis/project work expenses.
  • Student Conference Travel : Students are provided with funding to travel to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and to professional conferences in specific disciplines.
  • Steinmetz Symposium : More then 400 students take part in this annual celebration of student scholarly work, held each May. Students learn to communicate the results of their scholarly efforts through oral presentations, exhibits, posters, and performances. The Symposium includes a dinner for student participants, their parents and their faculty advisors.

If you wish to find out about any of these opportunities in more detail, please refer to the links on the left. If you are unable to find what you are looking for or have a specific question, please contact the Director of Undergraduate Research, Prof. Kristin Fox.

There are two groups that work with the Director of Undergraduate Research to evaluate proposals submitted by students for the Student Research Grants, attendance at conferences, and Summer Research Fellowships. The SRG committee, and the Committee on Undergraduate Research.

Membership on the Committee on Undergraduate Research for 2013-2014:

Director of Undergraduate Research, Kristin Fox, Chair
Division I:     Andy Burkett
Division II:    Tomas Dvorak
Division III:   Scott Kirkton
Division IV:   Becky Cortez (Fall); Steve Kalista (Winter/Spring)

Membership on the Student Research Grant Committee 2013-2014:

Director of Undergraduate Research, Kristin Fox, Chair
Division I:    Sandy Wimer
Division II (with Psychology):  George Bizer
Division III (not including Psychology):  Roman Yukilevich
Division IV:  David Hodgson