The university’s undergraduate student research program has taken root, and is blossoming across the university’s six campuses. Almost 15,000 students and 42 percent of faculty have engaged in undergraduate research and inquiry activities since a robust initiative to expand FAU’s culture of undergraduate research kicked off in 2012.
The activities of the program, Distinction through Discovery, have been approved for inclusion in all categories of promotion and tenure: research, teaching and service. Now, that initiative is also getting national recognition.
The Council on Undergraduate Research, a national organization of individual and institutional members representing more than 900 colleges and universities, recently honored FAU with its Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments. The annual award recognizes institutions with model programs that provide high-quality research experiences.
“Florida Atlantic University exemplifies excellence in both the depth and breadth of its undergraduate research programs, including its active assessment practices,” said Elizabeth L. Ambos, Ph.D., the council’s executive officer. “The Distinction through Discovery program is a national exemplar of successful approaches research universities can undertake to integrate research intentionally into curricula.”
The program works to expand student research opportunities and increase the support and recognition for faculty who mentor them. The Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry actively promotes student research throughout the year by hosting a symposium, recognizing notable projects, publishing a journal and providing grants. These opportunities have proven significant to students: more than 80 percent of graduating seniors in 2016-17 who reported working on research with faculty considered the experience an important factor in determining their post-graduation activity.
It’s all in a day’s work for Donna Chamely-Wiik, Ph.D., the assistant dean for undergraduate research and associate scientist in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, and the Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry team. “Our strengths include exceptional and dedicated faculty, and motivated and talented students,” she said. “These catalyzing factors, in combination with a clear institutional vision and support, ensure a successful and sustainable undergraduate research and inquiry culture shift.”