Updates on the Office of Undergraduate Research

Message from Vice President for Research Lisa Cassis
February 2, 2021

Undergraduate research is a high-impact activity that can be a transformative experience for students. Because UK is an R1 institution, undergraduate research activities are celebrated and highlighted, and student research success is an important part of our research mission. As our research and creative work continue to flourish at UK, we seek to offer more opportunities to undergraduates to participate in the expanding research mission of the institution.

In September 2020, President Capilouto moved the Office of Undergraduate Research from Student and Academic Life to the Office of the Vice President for Research. Since that time, my office has been evaluating this office with input from a number of academic leaders, individually and as groups, and using information within the December 2019 External Review Committee report on the Office of Undergraduate Research.

To achieve the overall goal of providing undergraduates a meaningful research experience, we are restructuring the central Office of Undergraduate Research to better align with research offerings within disciplines of our colleges, while refocusing the central office to serve as a repository for data and for coordinated communication with stakeholders both within and external to the institution. The central office will continue to coordinate cross-campus events such as the long-standing Annual Showcase of Undergraduate Research, while individual research fellowships and travel funds will be determined at the college level. To support undergraduate research across the diversity of disciplines at UK, the Office of the Vice President for Research will increase funds available for the direct support of undergraduates engaged in research with a goal of increasing the number of research projects by our undergraduate population.

We thank the current staff within the Office of Undergraduate Research for their dedication to the undergraduate research mission and for their long-term service to the university. To serve the revised mission of the central office, we announce the creation of a part-time Faculty Director of Undergraduate Research position to provide leadership for the office and the newly created support staff position. The position qualifications and job expectations for the Faculty Director are below. Applications are due to our office by Friday, February 19, 2021. Please disseminate this information to any colleagues who may be interested in this position.

The funding for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships will be determined at the college level using available funds. Students interested in undergraduate research within their discipline should watch for announcements about the upcoming application process. The uncertainty placed on us all by the pandemic will also impact the timing and activities allowed in the near future.

We look forward to working with our college colleagues to enhance student participation in research and mentored creative activities.

New Faculty Director Position

Faculty Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research (up to 50% effort)

Position qualifications: Tenured Associate or Full Professor who has a record of strong research or creative activity accomplishments and who has a history of working with undergraduate students in research or mentored independent study activities.

  • Advocate for and promote undergraduate research and mentored independent studies across campus. Lead the campus-wide communication strategy.
  • Provide leadership for the Office of Undergraduate Research and the activities coordinated through the office; supervise office staff (initially one full-time Program Coordinator). Communicate regularly with the Office of the Vice President for Research.
  • Update Mission, Vision and Goals of the Office of Undergraduate Research. As the office transitions, consider new activities that could be coordinated from a central office.
  • Develop and oversee data collection, data analysis and assessment of undergraduate research activities across campus.
  • Support, promote and coordinate with efforts to increase diverse student participation in undergraduate research experiences, such as UNITE and LSAMP, and track progress over time.
  • Communicate and meet regularly with the College Representative Advisory Group and share best-practice ideas across colleges to enhance research and creative activities campus wide.
  • Represent activities of UGR to other domains, including the Office of the Provost, Student Academic Life and College leadership.
  • Prepare annual reports, budget requests and justifications for the Office of the Vice President for Research.
  • Coordinate with college representatives to provide student advisors with the information and resources needed to encourage and assist students in engaging in research and mentored independent studies.
  • Solicit and review college plans for support of undergraduates in research within unit disciplines.
  • Lead, promote or support, as appropriate, efforts to obtain external funding to support undergraduate research opportunities.

Process: Applications for this position have closed.

See the 2-1-2021 Office of Undergraduate Research Restructuring (PDF, 10 pages) Update to the Faculty Senate Council