Research Mentors

Faculty Research Advisors

Becoming a Faculty Research Advisor is a memorable and rewarding experience. Faculty Research Advisors are full-time UNC-Chapel Hill faculty members who hold a faculty appointment in a department or curriculum at UNC-Chapel Hill. Full-time faculty appointments include all tenured, tenure-track, and fixed-term faculty with voting rights in a department or curriculum at UNC-Chapel Hill:

  • Professor; Clinical Professor; Research Professor
  • Associate Professor; Clinical Associate Professor; Research Associate Professor
  • Assistant Professor; Clinical Assistant Professor; Research Assistant Professor
  • Professor of the Practice
  • Teaching Professor
  • Senior Lecturer
  • Lecturer
  • Instructor

SURF Program Expectations
Faculty research advisors must be available to advise students throughout the SURF process: proposal writing and review, the IRB process, project implementation, and final reporting in the fall. This Faculty Research Advisor is the person who writes the recommendation letter to accompany your SURF proposal and formally approves your research report at the end of the summer. You may also want to consult with Postdoctoral Fellows, graduate students, research associates or others with expertise as co-advisors, and we encourage you to do this, but your primary research advisor must be a faculty member.

Learn more about the responsibilities of a SURF Faculty Advisor.

Engage in Inquiry-Based Teaching
We encourage all faculty, and especially OUR Faculty Advisors, to adopt inquiry-based methods into their teaching. Inquiry-based teaching methods focus on helping students to make a transition from “novice-like” approaches to learning (memorizing conclusions reached by others, practicing solutions to “the questions that might be on the exam”) to “expert-like” approaches (a procedural understanding of how current conclusions were reached, the limitations of those conclusions, and the opportunities for further exploration and deeper understanding).

Inquiry-based approaches are not new, but they are currently receiving much attention for two reasons. First, inquiry-based approaches are well-aligned with the natural abilities of faculty at a research university (and therefore they are enjoyable to implement). Second, cognitive psychologists have studied ways that people learn, including undergraduates in conventional lecture courses. They have reached the somewhat alarming conclusion that conventional courses in some disciplines actually make students more novice-like in their approach to understanding than they were before the courses began.

Faculty in all disciplines at Carolina have been experimenting with inquiry-based approaches for many years, particularly during the past five years with the assistance of the GRC program. Over 1000 courses involving over 27,000 students have been taught in ways that include the results of student inquiry as course material. Faculty and students have found these courses to be highly satisfactory.

You may want to read more about getting started. If you decide to explore further, we in the OUR would be happy to discuss approaches you are considering and put you in contact with a colleague in your discipline who could offer additional advice.


How to Highlight Undergraduate Research
Individual departments have developed a number of compelling ways to highlight undergraduate research and to introduce undergraduates to research opportunities within the department. Following are some examples:

Invite undergraduates to attend graduate student and faculty colloquia

  • Anthropology

Display posters of undergraduate research work in the department.

  • Biology

Develop an undergraduate research program specific to the department.

Post undergraduate accomplishments in the department news section of the website.

  • Physics

List links to undergraduate research theses on the department website.

Hold a department in-house research symposium for undergraduates.

Offer awards and prizes for undergraduate research and creative investigations.

Invite undergraduates to participate in faculty labs and fieldwork.