The Office for Undergraduate Research provides a number of opportunities to support faculty and also provides opportunities for faculty to support undergraduate research.
Support for Faculty
Database of Research Opportunities
Faculty, post docs, and graduate students can use the OUR website to post available research positions for undergraduates in our searchable database of research opportunities for undergraduates. This database has allowed faculty members, post docs, and graduate students to connect with interested and capable undergraduates across the campus.
All postings must have a UNC faculty advisor, but research opportunities may be directly supervised by post docs or graduate students, who should be listed as the “Research Supervisor.” Many posters use the “Description” section not only to provide specific detail about the opportunity but also to list any prerequisites or particulars of applying for the opportunity. Faculty can share a research position on our Post an Opportunity page.
Graduate Research Consultant Program
The Graduate Research Consultant Program can help you integrate a research project/assignment into one of your undergraduate courses by providing support for an advanced graduate student who guides students through their research projects from beginning to end. The Graduate Research Consultant (GRC) can help students design, carry out, and communicate their research. They can also help students learn particular research methodologies and be available for consultation throughout the semester. GRCs are expected to work 30 hours over the course of the semester.
Learn more about the GRC program and how to submit a proposal for a GRC here.
Research and Discovery Course Development Guide
“Research” looks very different from discipline to discipline, from bench science to creative performance. The goal of the “Research and Discovery” requirement in the IDEAs in Action curriculum is to teach students about the process of research in at least one specific discipline, giving them hands-on experience in the process of creating knowledge. This guide is for instructors designing or adjusting a course to allow students to conduct research in a way that meets the criteria of the Research & Discovery requirement.
Faculty Support for Undergraduate Research
Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURFs) Faculty Mentors
SURFs are $4,000 student stipends for undergraduates to engage in research for at least 9 weeks, with a minimum of 20 hours/week during the summer. SURF projects must be carried out under the supervision of a UNC-Chapel Hill faculty research advisor, and most successful SURF applications are written in collaboration with faculty. Faculty often encourage their students to apply for SURF funding as a way to incentivize intensive summer research. All students who engage in SURFs must have a faculty mentor. SURF faculty research mentors advise students throughout the SURF process: proposal writing and review, the IRB process, project implementation, and final reporting in the fall. As the SURF Faculty Research Advisor you will be required to write a recommendation letter to support the student’s SURF proposal and formally approve the student’s research report at the end of the summer.
Learn more about the responsibilities of a SURF Faculty Advisor.
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:
Develop an undergraduate research program specific to the department.
Post undergraduate accomplishments in the department news section of the website.
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.