Opportunities & Courses

Undergraduate Research Consultant Teams (URCTs)

Introduction
The University’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) seeks to improve awareness of what it means to be a research university, align the missions of producing world class research and providing a world class undergraduate education, and promote opportunities for students to engage in research and scholarship.

One such opportunity is the Undergraduate Research Consultant Team (URCT) Program. URCT’s are small “strike teams” of students from multiple disciplines who will execute well-defined, one semester projects guided by a faculty advisor.  The goals of the URCT program are to (1) provide students with opportunities for inquiry and discovery in the context of real-world cutting-edge research, and (2) foster interactions between disciplines (e.g. Humanities and Natural and Social Sciences) that reflect the diversity of perspectives necessary to solve society’s problems.

You can look at some past URCT Program projects here.

Call for proposals
The Office for Undergraduate Research (OUR), in conjunction with the BeAM Makerspace, is seeking proposals from interdisciplinary teams of 3-5 students who have a well-defined research question, outreach need, or design challenge in collaboration with a faculty advisor. Teams may address a pressing campus-related issue, problems in the community, or hypothesis-driven research questions.  For example, students in Exercise & Sport Science, Biomedical Engineering, and Art might design, develop, and evaluate the effects of a novel rehabilitation device; or students in Women & Gender Studies, Economics, and Public Policy might investigate gender-specific economic disparities with the goal of helping a student club expand its services.  Some projects may require more than a single semester to complete.  In these instances, clearly defined objectives for the semester during which funding is provided should be outlined in the application, as well as a plan for continuing the project beyond the funding period.

Eligibility
Proposals will be accepted from teams of students within the College of Arts & Sciences or the Professional Schools.  The members of the URCT should represent at least 2 disciplines within the University.

Award Information
Awards of up to $5,000 per team will be provided to cover the costs of conducting the project (e.g. supplies, travel, etc.), graduate research assistant support, and/or faculty advisor support.  Students will register for a 1-credit course (IDST 195) under the supervision of the faculty advisor as part of the award.  URCTs will be required to present their findings at the Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research.

Guidelines for Proposal Submission
Proposals will be reviewed by a committee of faculty and staff, and should include the following:

  1. A brief narrative (1,500 words max) that includes:
    1. A description of the project including specific objectives and anticipated outcomes (e.g. research report, design, model, or outreach material)
    2. Anticipated benefits to society and members of the URCT
  2. Statement of feasibility
    1. Relevant experience of each team member including the specific skills and/or knowledge team members bring to the project
    2. Relevant experience of team advisor(s)
    3. Existing lab/department infrastructure or organization to support the team
  3. A signed letter from team advisor(s) endorsing the project
  4. Proposed budget for the project

Proposals should be submitted by November 1 for the fall program and by May 1 for the spring program as a single pdf file via email to Boots Quimby, PhD, Associate Director of the Office for Undergraduate Research (bquimby@email.unc.edu).