Since the 1998-99 academic year, URF awards have been given to outstanding Juniors and Seniors at the University of Oregon. Fellowships have been awarded to students in over 20 diverse fields of study from the Charles H. Lundquist College of Business, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education, Robert D. Clark Honors College, and the School of Architecture and Allied Arts.
URF recipients typically go on to be accepted into some of the most prestigious and competitive graduate programs in the U.S. Twenty-two former URF recipients have earned advanced or professional degrees since graduating from the University of Oregon. Another sixteen former recipients are currently enrolled in Master's or Ph.D. programs or Medical School.
Reflections from Past URF Recipients
Please convey my thanks to Dr. Kame'enui for creating this program. I enjoyed my experience in the program and have found it be very helpful in my graduate classes. In addition, many potential employers have been impressed with my activities related to this program. This experience has proven to be extremely advantageous for my involvement in graduate classes and educational programs.
This project was a new experience for me in many ways. I was unaware of the complexities involved in conducting a formal research project; this project was eye opening and overall very enlightening. I would like to thank IDEA and the Department of Education for allowing me to undergo this rewarding endeavor. I am honored to have received this fellowship and know that it has greatly enriched my educational experience.
I feel I have learned a great deal about the details that go into a research project. I have caught a glimpse of what life as a graduate student is like, and I believe my experiences have prepared me for the day that I enter a graduate program. I have become more confident in my skills as a researcher, and have faith that I can excel at the graduate level of studies.
I am pleased with the work I have done and am grateful to have had the opportunity to begin this kind of work early on in my academic career. Because I plan to continue in the academic field, I will be performing this kind of research constantly; it has been very valuable to start developing these skills now.
Each time I explained my work to someone new, I learned more about how to communicate my ideas clearly and quickly. The URF experience was valuable to me and it gave me contact with students and faculty doing research in other areas and other parts of the University.
In the course of this research project I have learned many valuable skills involved in experimentation, but most importantly I have learned how to perform independent research in a high quality fashion. It was really scary to be immersed in the world of graduate students, post docs, and professors! I learned that you have to work really hard in every way to produce research that is worth acknowledgement. Overall, I really enjoyed the independence we were given for these projects. We were treated as if we could find our way, and we did.
It is important to note that all of the research I conducted was made possible by the support of the URF program. While one of the functions of the URF program is to create a state of financial freedom, allowing time to be devoted solely to research interests, its effects were more far-reaching. In my opinion, one of the greatest attributes of the URF program is that it creates a system of both support and encouragement for undergraduates who may be new to and unsure about the process of academic inquiry. By participating in this program, which included regular meetings and informational sources, many of the initial research uncertainties were alleviated. Additionally, it provided an opportunity to interact with other undergraduates who are sharing a similar experience.
In my case, the URF program remained behind me even when my initial project was met largely with failure and eventually abandoned halfway through the school year. In a lot of ways, it was this failure that taught me the most about research and scientific pursuits, because it demonstrated that it is impossible to predict everything and that in scientific research, you do not have absolute authority over the outcome, and at times, the only recourse is to make the best out of the worst situation.
The URF program has given me the opportunity to work alongside research faculty at the University and has allowed me to contribute to the advancement of scientific inquiry within the discipline. One of the most rewarding aspects of the program has been the connections I have established with professionals in my field.
My time as an IDEA Research Undergraduate was my first real glimpse into the academic world. My mentor aptly summarized my experience by relating it to a first time swimming - others will keep you from drowning, but it is largely an individual effort to learn to swim. I started the position completely unsure about what I would accomplish, what I would do, and if I was even capable of doing what was asked of me. I quickly learned that research is generally unstructured, allowing the researcher to pursue a multitude of paths in attempting to answer some questions.
From the URF experience, I began to understand how research is conducted. Prior to this experience, I believed that research was a sequence of "random tests" resulting in topics that can be replicated. After my URF experience, I realize the path to discovery is at least as important as, and generally more important than, the discovery itself. Thus, the fulfillment of research is in walking the path of discovery, and sharing that path with others through papers and conferences.
This year of undergraduate research has given me hands on experience in my field, as well as an introduction to the process of scientific research. It has enhanced my desire to continue my education and has exposed me to the realities of the commitment involved. I highly value the development of mentoring relationships with the scientists and staff in my lab, all of whom welcomed me and patiently assisted me. I am also grateful to the URF administrators for their support and assistance through this very challenging year. The regular meetings and progress reports helped to keep me on track and in particularly frustrating times showed me that I had indeed made progress.
The structure of the URF program was excellent in helping me achieve my goals. I really appreciated having the opportunity to gather together as a group to discuss our research, to talk about our successes and stumbling points, and to receive supportive feedback. At the same time, I also appreciated the program coordinators' sensitivity to time constraints, and the prioritization of having us actually engaged in our research projects over having a lot of group meetings.