August 26, 2005

A Taste of the Scholarly Life: Undergrads from across the country present findings at UCSD Summer research conference

One hundred-forty-five undergraduate students from the University of California, San Diego; San Diego State University, Yale, MIT and other campuses from across the county gathered at UCSD recently to present findings from in-depth research studies they conducted individually this summer under faculty mentors.

The students – representing academic disciplines from astrophysics and medicine to humanities and ethnic studies – were participants in UCSD’s annual Summer Research Conference where they received valuable experience in what every successful scholar must master: how to present and defend their scientific work before peers and other professionals in a public forum.

The all-day event at UCSD’s Price Center on August 11 saw undergraduates present and discuss their research at one of 22 roundtable presentations, arranged by subject, before an audience of faculty, fellow students and interested guests. The UCSD Summer Research Conference is planned and coordinated by UCSD’s Academic Enrichment Programs (AEP), a unit of Student Educational Advancement in Student Affairs. AEP also sponsors other key undergraduate research experiences on campus throughout the year.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities: A Growing Phenomenon

Until recently, scholars in training usually had to wait until graduate school to perform cutting-edge research with noted faculty. Now undergraduate research programs and conferences are a growing phenomenon on campuses across the country. They provide undergraduate students with “hands-on” research experience, presentation skills, and a chance to collaborate with a distinguished scholar. Students who participate in structured research programs immensely enhance their competitiveness for admission to highly selective graduate and professional schools.

“We are proud that UCSD has been a leader in sponsoring undergraduate research experiences for students,” says Artis. “Because of the increasing popularity of undergraduate research among students and faculty, our Summer Research Conference represents a genuinely diverse community of young scholars from UCSD and a wide variety of colleges and universities. And their academic interests are as varied as their backgrounds”

During eight to ten weeks of investigation in preparation for the conference, students work closely with their faculty mentors, Artis explains. “They get a compressed but thorough scholarly experience, including highs and lows, breakthroughs and disappointments. Often, they and their mentors are surprised by how much they can accomplish in a relatively short period of time,” he says.

Many undergraduate research programs also strive is to bring more ethnically underrepresented and first-generation college student participants from UCSD and other universities to actively pursue doctoral degrees and careers in research and academia.

Training the Next Generation of Scientists, Scholars and Faculty

Undergraduates in the conference are supported by fellowships from more than a dozen local, state, and national funding agencies, including: the UC Office of the President; National Institutes of Health; the U.S. Department of Education; the National Science Foundation; California Alliance for Minority Participation in the Sciences, Engineering and Math (CAMP); UCSD Chemistry & Biochemistry Department; the Faculty Mentor Program; UCSD Mathematics Department; Medical Scientists Training Program (MSTP); the Office of Graduate Studies and Research Summer Training Academy for Research in the Sciences (STARS); the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program (UCSD), and the UC Fund/Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, UCSD (UC Fund).

Adds Artis: “With the help of training received through undergraduate research programs, we believe these students are capable of leading the next generation of scientists, scholars, professional and government leaders, and university faculty.”

For more information on undergraduate research programs at UCSD, visit , or call 858-534-1774.

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