New Program Aims to Help Undergraduates Start Research Sooner

Having access to undergraduate research experiences is one of the key differences in getting a degree from a top-tier research institution like the U. That’s why the Office of Undergraduate Research is launching a new program with a simple application designed to remove as many barriers as possible for students who want to find an opportunity.

The Early Exploration Scholars program connects undergrads with mentors to help them embark on research. Students who are selected for the program will receive a $500 scholarship, as well as take part in other activities including research tours where they can visit faculty labs.

“We created a program for helping students get connected to mentors early on so they can develop those relationships in a research dynamic,” says Annie Isabel Fukushima, associate dean of undergraduate studies and the director of the U’s Office of Undergraduate Research.

Lab work helps students home in on purposeful career paths, and it can lead to quicker degree completion. However, without programs like the Early Exploration Scholars, it can be daunting for students to find a research position, and some miss the opportunity altogether because they wait too long, she adds. 

Ava Peitz is a senior at the U who started undergraduate research during her second semester of college. At that point in her studies, Peitz wanted to go to medical school, but the lab she was in helped her learn that while she loved research, she didn’t want to study medicine. She adjusted her studies accordingly and continued as a researcher in a new lab. 

“My love for research hasn’t faltered, even as the subject matter I’ve been able to research has flexed and changed,” says Peitz.


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