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Minors and Programs: Office of Undergraduate Research

Spring Research Symposium

On April 12th, the Office of Undergraduate Research hosted an inaugural spring showcase event, the Spring Research Symposium. “We were essentially testing the waters with this event,” stated Karen Weber, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. “Over the years, we have received feedback from our student researchers that they would like us to coordinate a spring event, in addition to our fall research day, so we decided to give it a try—and we’re glad we did.” What resulted was over 75 student participants, representing 21 different departments, showcasing oral and poster presentations at the event. For pictures and highlights visit Given the success of the spring research day, next year’s event is already on the calendar for April 11, 2013. The Office of Undergraduate Research plans to devise a way for the 2013 event to complement other activities taking place in Honors, such as the internship program in Medicine & Society, the ePortfolio program, and the proposed Leadership Studies minor. 

SURF 2012

A record 57 students are currently participating in the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) 2012 program, a group that represents 10 colleges and 28 different departments. The full-time summer research program provides a $3500 scholarship to undergraduates from all fields and disciplines, and also includes a lecture series and excursions for the participants. This year the lecture series will include presentations by Dr. Hanadi Rifai, from Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Jillian Conrad, from the School of Art, who will discuss the nature of the research they conduct in their respective areas. Also, Dr. Jian Liu, from Health and Human Performance, and Dr. Daniel Frigo, from the Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling, are hosting tours of their lab facilities for the SURF students. Other highlights include Dr. Shiv Halasyamani’s lecture on research ethics, a faculty panel on considering and applying to graduate and professional school, and a student panel on how to make the most of your research experience. Faculty participation throughout the summer program is integral in enabling the students to become responsible researchers and future scholars. Professor Halasyamani, from the Department of Chemistry, shared, “Research is a process of discovery in which students will learn that experiments and protocols rarely work as planned. It is essential that they learn early on to present their results to their advisor honestly and not simply tell them what they want to hear. This will help ensure that their research contributions are as valuable as possible, while providing them with the most true-to-life exposure to research as a career path.”

Faculty Awards

There will be two new faculty awards offered in spring 2013 by the Office: the Early Career Faculty Award for Mentoring Undergraduate Research and the Lifetime Faculty Award for Mentoring Undergraduate Research. These two awards will replace the one previous award offered to faculty since 2006. The early career award celebrates the mentorship efforts at the University of Houston of junior faculty who are in the earlier stages of their professions. The Lifetime Faculty Award for Mentoring Undergraduate Research is a career award for individuals whose efforts in undergraduate mentorship at the University of Houston have been exceptional over many years.

The awards are intended to recognize demonstrated excellence in supporting undergraduate researchers, to encourage mentoring relationships with undergraduate students, and to convey the campus’ high regard for such contributions made by the faculty of the academic and research community. Faculty members who consistently advise and work one-on-one with students on personalized, creative, enriching projects outside of the classroom are an ideal fit for these awards. Specific information on applying for these awards will be available online in August.