ECU Undergraduates Discover Research Opportunities
East Carolina University’s Office of Undergraduate Research held its first Undergraduate Research Meet and Greet of 2018 on Feb. 1 at Wright Plaza, introducing research opportunities to Pirate students.
Hosted by the Division of Research, Economic Development and Engagement, in partnership with the ECU Student Government Association, the event delivered doughnuts, 150 ECU research T-shirts and flyers detailing how to get started in undergraduate research to students.
The event was held to raise awareness about what undergraduate research is and what opportunities are available to undergraduate students at ECU. Students were also introduced to representatives from REDE, including Vice Chancellor of Research, Economic Development and Engagement Dr. Jay Golden and Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of Undergraduate Research Dr. Mary Farwell.
“Undergraduate research has been shown to increase student’s interest and skills in all disciplines and support students’ personal and professional growth,” Farwell said. “Many students who currently do faculty-mentored research are concentrated in STEM disciplines or are honors students. We want to greatly increase – even double – the number of students doing undergraduate research, in all fields of study.”
One goal the Office of Undergraduate Research hoped to achieve at the event was to inform undergraduate students about the types of research projects their departments are conducting. ECU offers 102 undergraduate bachelor degree programs, with research being conducted in every field of study.
“Some students are unaware that the majority of faculty at ECU have research programs,” Farwell said. “For example, many biology and chemistry majors carry out research in laboratories with a faculty or graduate student mentor. We are encouraging students to talk to faculty in their majors about serving as a mentor for research projects. Our office has a new award program – Undergraduate Research Minis – that will award $500 to students to jump-start faculty-mentored projects.”
As part of ECU’s goal of becoming the next great national university, increasing research participation has been made a top priority. Nearly 20 percent of ECU students participate in research at the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels.
“Providing opportunities for ECU students to become engaged in research provides unique experiences including working on project teams, technical and professional communication and approaches to complex problem solving,” Golden said. “Each of those skills is highly desired by future employers and will provide our Pirates a unique competitive advantage.
“Further, we are committed to growing research opportunities in eastern North Carolina to support Chancellor (Cecil) Staton’s Rural Prosperity Initiative, as well as growing global experiences through international research experiences,” he said. “Today’s meet and greet was a wonderful opportunity as vice chancellor to discuss the research interests of our students so we can further build programs to support them while they are at ECU.”