Union recognized as a leader in undergraduate research

Publication Date

Union has been recognized by the Council on Undergraduate Research for excellence in its programs that offer high-quality research experiences for undergraduates.

The College joins the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as winners of this year’s Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments (AURA).

Now in its fourth year, the award honors campuses that demonstrate depth and breadth in their undergraduate research initiatives and evidence of continual innovation.

In choosing Union, the Council said:

“Union Scholars Program offers extensive opportunities for research interwoven throughout the undergraduate experience, linking to several Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research (COEUR) principles. External funding of faculty research—particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields—and the development of state-of-the-art research facilities are impressive for a liberal arts college of Union’s size and allow for greater integration of students into the research enterprise. Library-based resources that support research and archive student scholarship through Union’s Digital Works, as well as the development of high-performance computing resources, expand opportunities for student-faculty inquiry. The substantial growth and range of Union’s commitment to undergraduate research and the institution’s strong undergraduate research dissemination tradition offer a model for other baccalaureate-level institutions to emulate.”

Mechanical Engineering student Jennifer Fromm

Faculty-mentored undergraduate research is a staple of Union’s curriculum. Each spring, hundreds of students showcase their academic interests and talents during the Steinmetz Symposium. Classes are canceled for the all-day event, which includes a diverse lineup of oral presentations, poster sessions and exhibits highlighting student research.

More than a hundred students also participate in research each summer.

Most projects are funded through the undergraduate research program. The rest are supported by government or scientific society grants to faculty members, academic departments, and/or with foundation funding.

“As a small liberal arts college, our students get an opportunity to be involved in every stage of a project, from the general concept to the design of an experiment to the final data-taking and analysis,” said Chad Orzel, the R. Gordon Gould Associate Professor of Physics and director of Undergraduate Research. “We are honored to receive this award from the Council on Undergraduate Research.”

The award will be presented Jan. 25 at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities in Atlanta, Ga.

Founded in 1978, the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) is an organization of individual, institutional and affiliate members from around the world that share a focus on providing high-quality and collaborative undergraduate research, scholarly, and creative activity opportunities for faculty and students. More than 700 institutions and more than 13,000 individuals belong to CUR.