Introduction

What will you need during your time at USU to get a great job or a ticket to grad school? Aside from good grades and test scores, you’ll need a great resume, an attractive transcript, a relationship with a professor who can write your letter of recommendation and some demonstration of proficiency in your field and in life. And while you’re here, you might want to have some fun!

Extra time is scarce, so it’s important to choose activities that provide the biggest bang for the proverbial buck. Undergraduate research is that magic bullet. No other activity provides as many benefits to students who want to get ahead and position themselves for outstanding careers or graduate study.

Since 1975, USU’s Undergraduate Research Program has provided opportunities for students to take control of their research interests and dive head-first into discovering their own passions and strengths. In addition to tailoring your research to your personal fit, you can create your project to best suit your research goals and hobbies; all disciplines are supported. This means you can study rock formations in Logan Canyon, examine petroglyphs along the Colorado River in Moab or research and engineer autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles.

Undergraduate research helps students build stronger resumes with real- life experiences, making them better candidates when shopping the job market. Because the Undergraduate Research Program allows students to choose projects to fit within their interests, students are more engaged in their studies, and their classrooms come to life. Student researchers at USU are paired with faculty mentors who can open additional doors for student researchers in the form of fellowships and prestigious awards.

Getting Started in Undergraduate Research

Over the years, involvement in undergraduate research has become so prevalent that employers and graduate schools expect it from students. Undergraduate research allows students to gain knowledge that can’t be acquired through traditional coursework. Such involvement allows students to have a better understanding of their chosen discipline and enables them to have a clearer vision of their career goals. The importance of undergraduate research cannot be overlooked.

Students often cite finding a research project as the major barrier to getting involved with research. Whether a student ends up doing an independent project, participating in field research or working in a lab or a library, the search for a mentor and project that fit the student’s interests can be difficult. Here are some of strategies for making the search a fruitful one:

Courses

The classroom is the best place for students to find a faculty member who inspires them and with whom they wish to work. Most instructors conduct research and will welcome the opportunity to talk with a student who is interested in getting involved. If you like a class — even if it’s outside your major — talk to your professor! The question, “Do you work with undergraduates on research?” is a good place to start.

Connecting to Your Discipline

Some colleges have undergraduate research opportunities and ideas integrated directly into their web pages:

In other cases, individual department web pages often include a link to research, or undergraduate research, though not always in the same place (so look around). Here are a few examples:

Departmental Resources

Undergraduate advisors. Every department has professional advisors who can provide a lot of help in finding a good opportunity within a department. Set up a time to ask about opportunities in undergraduate research.

Departmental Honors Advisors are another likely source of information. Even if you are not in honors, the departmental honors advisor may know which faculty members are looking to mentor an undergraduate researcher.

As was mentioned before, the College of Science has departmental undergraduate research coordinators to help you find a project.

Direct Contact

All department web pages include a list of faculty members (generally via a “people” or “faculty” link). This is an excellent place for students to review the faculty members in the department person by person to see what sort of research that they conduct. If you see something that you like, send an email and set up a time to chat!

Undergraduate Research Office

Finally, the Undergraduate Research Office can provide additional guidance. Just set up a time to see Dr. Sand, and she will work with you to find a good match.

Getting Involved

As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” This is particularly true for starting and advancing your career. USU is home to eight colleges and several departments. There are many clubs and organizations available to you. As early as possible, you try to meet people in your field and build your contact list.

This kind of networking grants you special access to jobs that are not publicly announced but are filled through known contacts. As an undergraduate, networking is also a valuable tool for you to find your future mentor(s). Here at USU, there are plenty of opportunities to build your network through the following clubs and professional organizations:

College of Agriculture & Applied Sciences

The College of Agriculture is a strong, research-based college that is able to offer undergraduate researchers a wide range of research opportunities in all six of the departments. Some examples of undergraduate research experiences include:

  • Testing antiviral substances that are components of biomedical drugs
  • Identifying genetic markers for economically important traits in livestock animals
  • Learning to apply water intelligently (data-based water application)
  • Examining the impact of production agriculture and food processing on
  • The state’s economy
  • Testing food products for acceptability by consumers

The associate dean for the College of Agriculture will meet with undergraduate researchers to help them identify interests and career goals and get them teamed with a faculty mentor in a common area of interest. Students are often able to present their research findings at regional and national undergraduate conferences and publish in peer-reviewed journals with their faculty mentors and graduate students.

Departments

Animal, Dairy & Veterinary Sciences Department

Animal Science Club: Exposes students to animal agriculture through traveling to different operations across the country, judging livestock, holding annual club calf sale, and a steer jackpot. 

Dairy Science Club: Educates members and the community about today’s dairy industry though visits and field trips to farms. 

Pre-Vet Club: Fosters camaraderie for fellow students within the pre-vet program and holds informative activities that provide them with useful knowledge and contacts within the field of veterinary medicine. 

Sheep & Goat Club: Helps students to learn more about the sheep industry and assists students with placement in internships and career opportunities.

Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning Department

American Society of Landscape Architects: Mirrors the mission of the national ASLA which is to advance landscape architecture through communication, fellowship, advocacy and education.

Nutrition, Dietetics & Food Sciences Department

Dietetic Student Association: Provides students with opportunities to network, increase awareness of career paths, learn current issues in nutrition, and collaborate on projects and activities related to nutrition and health. 

Food Science Club: Assists food science and food technology majors’ professional development by participating in leadership roles and networking. The club also has a College Bowl team that competes in national product development competitions. 

Plants, Soils & Climate Department

Plants, Soils & Climate Club: Provides a means for students to meet together, build relationships, and participate in fund raising projects. The funds received from these projects are used to finance student competitions and trips in areas of interest throughout the western United States. 

Soils Team: Participants engage in local, regional, and national competitions involving the description and classification of soils.

USU Student Organic Farm: Educates the students on healthy organic farming system while working together with the community to healthy local alternatives to grocery store produce.

School of Applied Sciences, Technology & Education

Aggie FACS: Is affiliated with the state (UAFCS) and national (AAFCS) organizations, providing students with the opportunity to network with practicing professionals. 

Ag Tech Club: Facilitates student activities designed to develop skills and knowledge specific to agricultural systems technology. 

Agricultural Communication Club: Fosters career and professional development among future agricultural communicators and facilitates public relations within the College of Agriculture and Applied sciences. 

Design Academy: A performance based program where students design, build and program competitive robots. They also have the opportunity to join a competitive team and compete at the regional level. 

Technology and Engineering Education Club: Club members can participate in Vex Robotic Competitions, where previous club members have taken first place in the VEX world championship for Autonomous Programing and Sensors, second place in the Excellence Award and fifth place in Bracket Play. 

Experimental Rocket Club: Promotes knowledge of basic rocketry and provides hands-on rocket building experience for its members. It aims to design, create, and test experimental rockets in a reasonably safe environment. 

NIFA Flight Team: Provides students with the opportunity to compete at the annual NIFA/SAFECON event in both ground and flight events. The club assists the participants In order to strengthen their skills. 

School of Veterinary Medicine

American Association of Equine Practitioners: Focuses on the creation and enhancement of Equine medicine among veterinary students and furthering the professional development of its members.

SVM Agricultural Animal/Theriogenology: Offers students with hands-on experience, guest lectures, and other experiences related to Agricultural Animal medicine. 

Caine College of the Arts

Research in the Caine College of the Arts is broadly defined to encompass a wide variety of creative and scholarly endeavors, including creation or analysis of works of art, theatre, music, and design performance of musical or theatrical works research, scholarship, and criticism of musical, theatrical, artistic, or design 

endeavors research and scholarship in the education and pedagogy of the disciplines included in the college. Undergraduate research in the arts and humanities is student-driven, faculty-mentored inquiry, scholarly investigation, and/or creative activity. The undergraduate researcher’s work may contribute to outcomes including, but not limited to, individual or collaborative analytical writing; oral presentation; small analytical products; works of visual art; compilations of scholarship; exhibits; musical compositions; plays; performance; public scholarship; and/or peer-reviewed publication. Whatever the research product, its value is generally weighed by standards specific to experts in the field, whether jurors, editors, or reviewers.

Each field of study within the college defines what it means to engage in “hands-on learning.” For some departments, a student on fellowship might have immediate immersion in a studio, while for other departments, the student might be involved in a research project using historical documents or case studies. An associate dean will coordinate, but students will have individual faculty mentors in their fields of study.

The Caine College of the Arts includes the departments of art, music, and theatre arts and the interior design program. Undergraduate researchers in the arts division could concentrate on production of the arts (as with studio arts such as printmaking or sculpture), the performance of the arts (as with the performance arts such as music or theatre), on interpretation and analysis of the arts (as with scholarship in the arts such as art, design, music or theatre history), or on pedagogy education in the arts (as with piano pedagogy or art, music, or theatre education). The above listing is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather to get undergraduate researchers thinking about the wide range of possibilities.

Advice on Undergraduate Research in the Arts

In general, students are expected to arrive on campus as a novice and to develop an apprentice relationship with a faculty mentor, learning from that mentor’s experience and expertise and then moving into more independent research projects.

Can a student undertake some of the foundational work for a project, particularly the bibliographic or historical area?

Are there meaningful supportive tasks that a student might take on, such as super titles for an operatic production or program notes for a performance?

Does the student have a particular skill that the scholar does not, such as a foreign or classical language that might contribute to the project? Or perhaps a student has a skill in technology that would be helpful in design or delivery of the project as in designing a web page?

Departments

Art & Design Department

USU Photo Guild: Creates opportunities that supplements the students’ learning experience such as field trips, workshops, and exhibits organized by the guild. 

USU Art Guild: A student-run organization which provides opportunities for students, faculty and community members to practice creativity and build a community with other artists. Each year it organizes figure study sessions, which help students refine their skills, and art discussions, which are a place for students to express what they think about a variety of art topics. In addition, each fall semester it sponsors the annual Halloween Art Auction as well as an Art Exhibition. The spring semester holds the Art Connections Trip  during spring break. This trip is an opportunity for students to get involved with the arts in a major city and meet with other artists. 

Interior Design Program

Music Department

Independent Music Club. Aims to promote music in the university through student participation and promote an outlet for students who are interested in music.

Musicians for Healing. Creates opportunities for musicians in the university and from the community to share their talents and give meaningful service by creating a pleasant ambiance music for patients at Logan Regional Intermountain Hospital.

The New Music Collaborative. Allows student composers to test their skills, learn how to work with one another and gain critical communication skills.

Theatre Arts Department

USU Theatre Student Association: Provides the USU students with the means to attend conferences, workshops and functions that will further their education, opportunities to create theatrical performances, and gain experience within the world of Theatre Arts. 

Utah State Improv Club: Aims to help people to be more confident and build theatre arts in USU by playing games, doing exercises, and educating people about theatre arts. 

Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

The Jon M. Huntsman School of Business provides undergraduate researchers the opportunity to develop core competencies in the use of research methods critical to solving meaningful business and public policy issues. In recognition of the Fellowship, each student is invited to become an associate in The Research Group™, a nationally recognized consortium of university scholars, corporate leaders, and undergraduate students dedicated to high quality research experiences.

Working under the guidance of noted business scholars, students learn to develop, extend, and test theories that help guide business strategy. In doing so, students develop meaningful problem-solving skills that not only foster academic success, but life-long career success as well.

The program also provides students with the opportunity to receive recognition for their research efforts through presentations at regional and national undergraduate conferences, publications with faculty in peer-reviewed scholarly conference proceedings and/or journals, and/or preparation and presentation of technical reports for business and public organizations. In this way, students not only obtain important skills, they gain meaningful experience and bona fide evidence of scholarship.

Departments

Economics & Finance Department

Finance and Economics Club: Exposes the students to exceptional speakers, provides experiences for hands-on learning and increase their networking opportunities. The Club organizes many activities annually such as Career Exploration Trips.

Management Department

Association for Information Systems: Promotes excellence in information systems education and provides students with opportunities for personal and professional development through various opportunities and events. 

Business Intelligence GroupFacilitates meaningful and realistic experiences for students interested in Data Science and Information Systems through the application of data science theories learned in class. 

Center for E-Commerce and Business Analytics (CEBA): Investigates how the newest technologies allow tools to be developed in order to help business leaders make better management decisions. 

Management Information Systems Department

Center Huntsman Marketing Association (HMA)Trains its members in marketing and allows them to learn the skills of networking, resume building, and interviewing. Members are also provided exclusive opportunities to visit companies. 

Leaders for Continuous Improvement: Focuses on providing students with experience and skills required to get career placement through activities such as practice interviews, resume workshops with professionals, and company tours.

School of Accountancy

Emma Eccles Jones College of Education & Human Services

The Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services can provide a diverse array of opportunities for new undergraduate researchers. Undergraduate researchers can engage in research that ranges among a diverse field of topics:

  • Internet access and assistive technologies for people with disabilities
  • Advanced readers at risk in elementary schools
  • Gender and play among children
  • Special needs infants and toddlers
  • Math virtual manipulatives
  • Drug dependency
  • Childhood obesity

The College is home to the Center for Persons with Disabilities, a leading research institution in the nation, the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management, the Center for the School of the Future, and the Emma Eccles Jones Early Childhood Center. New undergraduate researchers will have the opportunity also to be partnered with older undergraduates who can provide mentoring. The associate dean will work with new students to find appropriate projects.

Departments

Communicative Disorders & Deaf Education Department

American Sign Language Club: Aims to create a place for all students and raise awareness about Deaf Culture in the world today. ASL provides opportunities for the hearing and the Deaf communities to communicate and socialize with one another. 

National Student Speech, Language and Hearing Association (NSSLHA): Organizes community service projects that provide literacy services to children and adults. 

Student Academy of Audiology (SAA)Promotes hearing awareness through involvement in humanitarian efforts and provides audiology services and education to the community. 

Family, Consumer & Human Development Department

Family Finance: Provides majors and other interested students opportunities for leadership, service, and social interaction. 

Marriage and Family Therapy Student Association (MFTSA): Raises awareness about marriage and family therapy at USU and in the community through various activities. 

Student Gerontology Association: Promotes the study of aging among students and help seniors in the community. 

Health, Physical Education & Recreation Department

Physical Education Club: Provides majors and other interested students opportunities to meet on a regular basis to discuss professional opportunities related to internships, employment, conference attendance, etc.  We also have socials on a regular basis and conduct community service and fundraising activities. 

Parks and Recreation Club: Provides opportunities for students to meet on a regular basis to internships, employment, conference attendance, The Club also conducts community service and fundraising activities. 

Pre-Physical Therapy ClubProvides unique opportunities for networking among physical therapists, and prepares its members for grad school or a career in Physical Therapy. 

Physical Education Club: Encourages students to exercise regularly and sponsors a departmental fun run each October. 

Pre-Physical Therapy Club: Provides unique opportunities for networking among physical therapists within and outside the community, and is an excellent resource for learning more about the physical therapy profession and the requirements for entry into the physical therapy program. 

Instructional Technology & Learning Sciences Department

Instructional Technology Student Association (ITSA): ITSA is dedicated to the implementation, and improvement of effective instructional design in education and corporate instruction. 

Psychology Department

Psi Chi: An honor society that encourages excellence in scholarship through activities where professionals talk about important issues and career opportunities related to psychology. 

School of Teacher Education and Leadership

College of Engineering

The College of Engineering consists of five departments: Biological, Civil and Environmental, Electrical and Computer, Engineering and Technology Education, and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. All departments have Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredited undergraduate engineering programs.

Undergraduate researchers will work on real-life research projects with a faculty mentor and his or her team of researchers. Undergraduate research department coordinators match student interests with a faculty member engaged in that specific area of research.

One undergraduate researcher may find converting algae to biofuel of interest and work with a faculty mentor in the Biological Engineering Department. Another, concerned about water quality and the environment, may work with a faculty mentor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department to study water resources and ways to improve water quality, both nationally and internationally. An Electrical and Computer Engineering Department faculty member might mentor a student to investigate very low power communications devices for possible future implantation in the human body. The latest research in engineering education and training technology in the Engineering and Technology Education Department may be fascinating to one undergraduate researcher. Another may find the potential of thermal fluids or material sciences in nuclear engineering of great interest and get matched up with a faculty mentor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department.

The College of Engineering awards 10 fellowships each year to qualified juniors to engage in engineering research activities, and many other undergraduates are funded by faculty research projects. Research programs in the college are extensive and varied:

  • Bioprocess and bioenergy
  • Structural design and water quality
  • Highway technology
  • Networks and concurrent systems
  • Space science, signal and image processing
  • Aircraft operation and maintenance
  • Manufacturing and aerospace engineering

For more information on undergraduate research opportunities in the College of Engineering at Utah State, contact Jagath Kaluarachchi at jagath.kaluarachchi@usu.edu.

Departments

Biological Engineering Department

Biological Engineering Club: Provides opportunities for students to network, meet up, get to know the professors, learn about research opportunities, and discover potential industry careers and internships. 

Biomedical Engineering SocietyEducates the future leaders of the profession and prepares them for multidisciplinary research fields by offering allowing them to participate in a wide range of activities that will enhance their careers. 

Institute of Biological Engineering (IBE): Committed to finding solutions to global problems through education, research, and in developing biologically based technologies. 

Civil & Environmental Engineering Department

American Water Resources Association (AWRA)Aims to advance multidisciplinary water resources education, management and research. 

Computer Science Department

Sign Free Software and GNU/Linux ClubAn organization for professionals and students who love computing and strive for a better computing world. 

Electrical & Computer Engineering Department

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE): Serves its members by being their resource for achieving lifelong career vitality and through providing an effective voice on policies that promote U.S. prosperity. 

Engineering Education Department

American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE): Aims to help students see all the possibilities an engineering degree offers them by promoting excellence in instruction, research, public service, and practice. 

International Technology Education Association (ITEA): Increases student achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by providing technological studies in safe facilities. 

Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Department

American Get Away Special TeamCaters to students who want to be involved with space research. One of its main research projects is the FUNBOE project which studies boiling dynamics in microgravity. 

Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)SAE global association of scientists, engineers, and practitioners that connects and educates its members while promoting, developing and advancing aerospace, commercial vehicle and automotive engineering. 

Other National & College-Wide Organizations

DiscoverE (formerly National Engineers Week Foundation): Aims to sustain and grow a dynamic engineering profession through outreach, education, celebration and volunteer opportunities.

Engineers Without Borders (EWB): Supports community-driven development programs by collaborating with local partners in designing and implementing sustainable engineering projects. 

Society of Environmental Engineering Students (SEES): Conducts interdisciplinary research discussion groups and seminars where Environmental Engineering students and faculty can communicate their thoughts on contemporary aspects of Environmental Engineering.

College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Research in CHaSS is broadly defined to encompass scholarly work, creative writing, and both qualitative and quantitative research in the social sciences. Each field of study within the College defines what it means to engage in research. For some departments, a student on Fellowship might have immediate immersion in an archive, while for other departments, the student might be involved in conducting research projects or case studies. The associate dean will coordinate, but students will have individual faculty mentors in their fields of study.

The humanities division of CHaSS includes English, history, languages, and philosophy. Research and Creative Activity Fellows in the humanities division could concentrate on written production (such as plays, stories, essays, poems, and articles), professional work documents, multimedia productions, interpretation and analysis, studies of folklore and folklife, or research about women and gender or cultural studies.

The social science division of CHaSS includes anthropology, journalism and communication, military science and aerospace studies, political science, social work, sociology, and speech communication. Undergraduate researchers in the social science division could concentrate on either primary or secondary research, including interviews and surveys, field research, analyses of quantitative or qualitative data related to human behavior and human societies, and the interpretation and production of media and mass communications such as newspapers or television.

The above listing is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather to get undergraduate researchers thinking about the wide range of possibilities. Common to all research in CHaSS is some kind of systematic inquiry or practice that is designed to further our knowledge, understanding, or appreciation.

Departments

English Department

The Bull Pen: Provides opportunities for students interested in creative writing to workshop their writing with other like-minded students. 

History Department

Religious Studies Club: Facilitates activities which benefit the university and stimulates academic interest, rigor, and understanding of religion and the field of Religious Studies.

Phi Alpha ThetaAn honor society for history majors and enthusiasts that promotes the love of history through sponsored activities and service projects. 

Journalism & Communication Department

http://www.usu.edu/journalism/

Public Relations Student Society of America. Strives to unite PR students with the current trends in the field and help build a strong foundation for their career path. (http://prssa.prsa.org/chapters/pages/display/205/Utah_State_University)

USU Student Magazine Club. Provides real-life work experience for talented writers, artists and future business leaders by creating a student-produced magazine targeted towards the students of USU. (https://journalism.usu.edu/htm/study/clubs-and-organizations)

Languages, Philosophy & Communication Studies Department

Communication Studies Club: Provides learning opportunities where faculty and students can interact through social events and academic activities. 

French ClubThe club brings the French-loving community together through activities and events where they get the chance to speak or learn French and promote the many cultures of French-speaking countries. 

Italian Club: The Italian Club gives the students an opportunity to practice their Italian skills, and make friends with other fans of the language. 

Japan ClubOrganizes fun, interesting, and meaningful activities that unite the Japanese and American students and promote mutual cultural awareness. 

Middle East Club: Open to Arab and non-Arab students alike, the club aims to create mutual understanding and appreciation through linguistic, political, religious and cultural immersion in activities that help foster an environment of learning. 

MSLT ClubAllows current and former MSLT students to connect, share, and collaborate in practices of second language teaching and to discuss current researches in Second Language Acquisition. 

Russian Club: Aims to increase cultural knowledge through educational opportunities, service projects, and fun recreational activities. 

Spanish Club: Helps the students and the community to improve their language capabilities and cultural understanding of Spanish speaking countries.

Political Science Department

USU College Democrats: Provides means for involvement and information that enables students to be politically involved with the National Democratic Party. 

USU College Republicans: Creates awareness of conservative beliefs on campus and helps advance the Republican cause through activism, education, events and involvement in the USU campus. 

Sociology, Social Work & Anthropology Department

Anthropology Club: Promotes anthropological interests and awareness and prepares students for careers requiring skills and knowledge from liberal arts and natural sciences. 

Medical Unity: Prepares future health care providers to operate in a Spanish-speaking cultural environment and to become culturally competent healthcare professionals. 

S. J. & Jessie E. College of Natural Resources

University undergraduate researchers in the College of Natural Resources can participate in a wide range of research activities, reflecting the breadth of scientific interests that students seeking natural resource and environmental careers can pursue. Some possible examples might include:

  • Assisting with soil sampling and analysis in the wildland soils laboratory
  • Testing wildlife DNA in the conservation genetics laboratory
  • Interviewing and entering data from hikers, ATV riders and other outdoor enthusiasts for studies done by the Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
  • Making field measurements of forest and rangeland plants
  • Sampling streams and ponds for chemical analyses or invertebrate population sampling
  • Gathering the latest published scientific information about a broad spectrum of topics, from geographic and environmental education to stream flow dynamics and behavior and habitat needs of endangered North American and tropical wildlife

Refer to the college website for more information.

Departments

Environment & Society Department

Aggie Recyclers: Raises awareness and promotes recycling around campus. They are also responsible for emptying recycling bins around the campus at least once a week and volunteers time to work at the USU Recycling Center.

Watershed Sciences Department

Wildland Resources Department

Society for Range ManagementA group of students who are interested in range science and related fields. They sponsor activities that allow its members to learn about current issues in range and offer educational opportunities to the community. 

The Wildlife Society: Prepares students for careers dealing with wildlife through hands-on experience, professional meetings, guest speakers, and specialty field trips. 

Student Subunit, Utah Chapter, American Fisheries SocietyImproves the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science. 

College-Wide Organizations

Berryman Institute: A national organization dedicated to improving human-wildlife relationships and providing hands-on field experience with human-wildlife conflict management professionals. 

QCNR Ambassadors: The Ambassadors are representatives, recruiters, and advocates of the QCNR at events across campus, on college tours, in high schools, at transfer schools, and other opportunities throughout Utah and Idaho. 

Society of American Foresters: Advances the science, technology, education, and practice of professional foresters to benefit society. 

Student Organization for Society and Natural Resources: Connects students to the environment through service opportunities and educational activities. 

College of Science

Each department’s undergraduate research coordinator will be involved in describing the exciting and diverse opportunities for research available in their respective areas. Students may also attend seminars and other departmental activities to get to know other undergraduates and the faculty in their major department. Students will participate in their placement after learning of the opportunities that various departments have to offer. Before the end of the first semester each undergraduate researcher will be teamed with a faculty mentor in their area of interest.

Departments

Biology Department

Entomology Club: Educates and involves students and community members in entomology through outreach, social events, beekeeping and research. 

Industrial Hygiene Club: Evaluates and controls chemical and physical hazards in the workplace. The members are also exposed to IH by socializing with those already in the program and networking with local certified IHs. 

Chemistry & Biochemistry Department

Chemistry & Biochemistry ClubPromotes science awareness in the community, specifically chemistry and biochemistry. 

Geology Department

Geology Club: Serves and educates the community of Cache Valley and sparks interest in people who are not educated in the subject of geology. 

Mathematics & Statistics Department

USU Applied Mathematics Club: Aims to increase interest in mathematics through guest speakers, short seminars on computational methods, competitions in mathematics, introductory classes on computational software and teacher training workshops. 

Physics Department

Society of Physics Students: Allows students interested in physics to perform research and be involved to science outreach. 

Other Organizations

Pharmacy Club. Helps students to prepare for a career in pharmacy.

Pre-Physician Assistant Club. Helps USU students to successfully prepare for PA school.

Pre-SOMA Club. Promotes osteopathic medical education among students to increase the number of applicants to medical schools and prepares students for the rigors of medical school.

Science Educators Club. Provides professional development, service and social opportunities among science education majors.

Collaborative/Cross-College Research Areas

Utah State University also has a number of research centers, specialized units that focus on a particular research area such as the:

Space Dynamics Laboratory

As a not-for-profit unit of the Utah State University Research Foundation, SDL solves the technical challenges faced by the military, science community and industry through:

  • Serving MDA and the DoD as the University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) for electro-optical sensor systems research and development
  • Designing and delivering electro-optical and space environment sensors and subsystems for over 400 rocket-borne and space-based payloads
  • Pioneering efficient and effective calibration and characterization techniques and facilities
  • Innovating CubeSat busses and small-scale components that provide large-scale benefits to the customer
  • Enabling significant advances in data compression, processing, and exploitation
  • Developing real-time reconnaissance data visualization hardware and software for operational military applications 

Utah Agricultural Experiment Station

The Utah Agricultural Experiment Station (UAES) is part of a network of researchers and facilities at the nation’s land-grant universities and is committed to improving agriculture and natural resources for the people of Utah. Experiment station research provides the researcher working in the lab science-based information used by Extension specialists and agents to assist people in every state in the nation.

At research facilities on the Utah State University campus and throughout the state, the UAES supports hundreds of research projects. It operates labs that test soils, plant tissue, irrigation water and livestock feed. It researches food safety and processing, plant and animal genetics, economic and social forces that shape families and communities, and brings agricultural into harmony with sustainable use of natural resources.

Center for Persons with Disabilities

The CPD is Utah’s Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at Utah State University. It is a dynamic collection of projects, guided by a goal to improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families. This is done through research, education, demonstration services and technical assistance.

The research adds to the knowledge about disability, its causes, its diagnosis and the best ways to accommodate it in daily life. The CPD’s training programs pass research-based techniques on to educators, families and service providers in the community. Demonstration services further bolster training by providing a real-world environment where techniques are tried and trainees learn how to provide services in their field. The people who receive services benefit from the expertise of the center, which provides education, evaluation and treatment to people who need it. Technical assistance is provided to entities that require help as they implement policies relating to disability.

Ecology Center

Ecology is increasingly interdisciplinary, and ecologists have diverse training backgrounds. The Ecology program at Utah State includes affiliated faculty members from 11 departments in 5 colleges and fellow students with many different interests. The Ecology curriculum is research-based and includes a common but flexible core of seminars and courses, along with specific departmental degree requirements and a research thesis or dissertation.

Acceptance into the Ecology degree program requires acceptance by a faculty member who will serve as advisor for the degree program. If you are interested in studying Ecology at Utah State, you should contact the Faculty Associate(s) whose areas of research align with your professional interests. Inquiries sent to the Ecology Center will be routed to appropriate department(s), department head(s), or faculty member(s).

Utah Water Research Laboratory

The Utah Water Research Laboratory (UWRL) is a stand-alone facility located at USU on the Logan River. The UWRL operates within an academic environment and collaborates with government and private sectors to address technical and societal aspects of water-related issues, including quality, quantity, distribution and conjunctive use. This is accomplished through providing more than 100,000 square feet of state-of-the-art laboratory, computer, and office space.

Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art

The Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art (NEHMA) is an academic art museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art. NEHMA serves the students and faculty across USU through a collection of over 5,000 objects and rotating exhibitions of permanent and traveling artworks. Last year, it provided direct support to thousands of students via customized tours, museum-based assignments, film screenings, concerts and lectures. As the only accredited art museum serving Cache Valley and Northern Utah, NEHMA also plays a vital role for community patrons and Logan tourism. These include numerous children and adults from K-12 programs and civic organizations who engage in educational programming at the Museum. Annual attendance to the museum is typically above 10,000.

Research is essential to NEHMA’s mission to collect, preserve and exhibit modern and contemporary visual art with an emphasis on artists from the Western United States and includes research on current artworks in NEHMA’s collection, as well as planned exhibitions. Other areas involve exhibition design, educational programming and curriculum connections. As a collecting institution, research is an ongoing process for curatorial staff and is supported through interns, researchers and student staff.

Research Conduct

Research integrity is essential in any field of study. How can results be reliable and useful to a larger audience if the research is not conducted with the highest ethical principles? A system of principles known as Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) has evolved over centuries of research. These principles include how data are collected and reported, the nature of authorship, intellectual property and relationships between mentor and apprentice. Because of the importance of RCR, Utah State University has created an increasingly sophisticated set of courses where students can learn about research ethics.

Research Ethics and Misconduct

According to the Department of Health and Human Services – Public Health Service Policies on Research Misconduct 42 CFR Part 93, research misconduct is defined as “fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.” Research misconduct, however, does not include honest error or differences of opinion. The complete text of PHS Policies on Research Misconduct 42 CFR Parts 50 and 93 is available here.

Fabrication

When the reported or recorded data or results are made up, it is considered as fabricated. This includes faking the names and information of participants to support claims.

Falsification

“Manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.”

Plagiarism

One of the biggest and most common blunders that researchers make is the act of plagiarizing. Plagiarism refers to the act of copying someone else’s work or ideas without giving proper credit to the original author. Plagiarism can be intentional or unintentional and it is not necessarily a black and white issue. Its scope can be very broad and complex, thus making it more difficult to understand. To make things clearer, here are several important points to remember regarding plagiarism:

Intentional plagiarism occurs when you use, copy, borrow, and/or submit ideas and materials by someone else and pass it as your own.

Lifting ideas and phrases from various sources and putting them together to create a statement is considered as patchwork plagiarism. This includes using synonyms of the original words in the text to give the illusion of paraphrasing the original work.

Plagiarism by non-attribution includes failure to cite and quote the original source. Whenever you summarize, paraphrase, or quote another author’s work, make sure that you cite the original source in the footnotes, endnotes, or parenthetical notes. Also, whenever you use the author’s exact words, make sure that you enclose them in quotation marks or put them as block text.

There is also such thing as self-plagiarism. It occurs when a student submits an essay or article written for one subject to fulfill course requirements of another subject.

Plagiarism can be avoided by taking precautionary steps and by double checking your work before turning it in. A more extensive look on plagiarism and how to avoid it is discussed here. The Council of Writing Program Administrators (WPA) and Purdue OWL also provide an informative guide on avoiding plagiarism. The Purdue OWL article can be accessed here.

Human Subjects Research

Researchers at Utah State University conduct research designed to create new knowledge and promote an improved quality of life for citizens of Utah, the nation, and the world. The Institutional Review Board (IRB) at Utah State University (USU) is a committee designated to review and approve research involving human participants prior to the initiation of such research, and to conduct periodic reviews of such research.

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) supports all researchers who do studies involving human participants, helping to ensure participant protection while promoting high-quality research that can provide rewards to participants and/or society. Such research might be conducted by a faculty member as their own scholarly work or as research assignments for classes they teach, or by undergraduate/graduate students who are pursuing individual research projects.

Individuals who conduct research involving human participants must complete an online training program provided through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) prior to conducting their research. Researchers at USU may access CITI training at any time, and certification lasts for three years.

The IRB website provides a variety of resources including the USU Investigator Handbook, a list of frequently asked questions, example consent documents, tips for pre- paring applications, several training presentations and information for researchers working with marginalized ethnic and cultural groups. Four IRB staff members provide additional guidance and manage the review process in conjunction with the IRB Chair and Board of 18 members.

The IRB uses the online program Protis for IRB application submission, review, and protocol management. Archived forms are available on the IRB website to review the types of questions that will be asked in the Protis application.

For more information, please visit IRB website.

Research Using Animals

In accordance to the Animal Welfare Act, both the USU Laboratory Animal Resources (LAR) facilities and personnel and the USU Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) fulfill their ethical and legal obligations in ensuring the care and safety of animals in any research.  The IACUC oversees all research or teaching activities involving live vertebrate animals, including biomedical, agricultural, and wildlife activities. The IACUC has the right to approve, modify, disapprove, suspend and/or terminate activities in USU that involves animals. All research projects involving animals must follow the prescribed protocol and guarantee that:

  • Animals will not be abused or treated inhumanely.
  • All personnel working with the animals must receive proper training prior to performing any experiment and/or meet with the Supervisor first to discuss proper handling techniques
  • All animals must be properly handled all the time
  • Anyone involved in the research shall wear appropriate protective clothing, and follow the appropriate safety procedures

Note that if you do not comply with the research policies involving animals, your privilege of working with animals in research may be suspended

For more information, read the Animal Care and Use section of the Policy Manual and the Policies and Regulations section for research involving animals.

Safety

Conducting research, both in field or in a laboratory, can pose serious hazards. While doing your undergraduate research, you may use certain instrumentation and materials that may harm you, your subjects and even the environment. Therefore, government agencies and other external entities established mandatory requirements for certain kinds of research. Depending on the type of research, additional formal safety training programs may be required.

Should your research involve the use of chemicals, it is imperative that you refer to your department’s chemical hygiene plan. This includes institution procedures, plans and protective measures to protect everyone involved in the research.

USU’s Environmental Health and Safety Office provides training and safety programs for the following:

Biological Safety: Deals with the safe use of human and animal pathogens, biological toxins, human blood and recombinant DNA on campus. For further information contact Kirt Poulsen at kirt.poulsen@usu.edu or James Day at james.day@usu.edu or 797-3290.

Environmental Safety: Program designed to keep Cache Valley’s environment clean and safe by monitoring and regulating air and water quality, recycling programs and hazardous waste. For further information contact Eric Jorgensen at eric.jorgensen@usu.edu or at 797-2856.

General Health and Safety: Basic rules and regulations that help keep the student researchers, maintenance workers, faculty and office staff safe. This includes everything from handling hazardous chemicals, to operating heavy machinery and to working in an ergonomic environment. For further information contact Kirt Poulsen at kirt.poulsen@usu.edu or at 797-3507.

Industrial Hygiene: The science of anticipating, recognizing, evaluating and controlling workplace conditions that may cause workers’ injury or illness. Industrial hygienists use environmental monitoring and analytical methods to detect the extent of worker exposure and employ engineering, work practice controls and other methods to control potential health hazards. For further information contact Rachel Curry at rachel.curry@usu.edu or at 797-7423.

Laboratory Safety: Designed to help scientists use and safely dispose substances that are hazardous or require special handling. For further information contact Rachel Curry at rachel.curry@usu.edu or at 797-7423.

Occupational Safety: Improves the safety of the work environment through the recognition, evaluation and control of hazardous conditions, and complying with regulatory requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and various state and local codes. For further information contact Kirt Poulsen at kirt.poulsen@usu.edu or at 797-3507.

Radiological Safety: USU is licensed to use radioactive materials and devices by Utah’s Division of Radiation Control. Radiation Safety Program structure and elements can be found in the Radiation Safety Handbook.  For further information, contact John P Jones (john.p.jones@usu.edu or at 7973514).

Before starting on your research, be sure to contact and address all your queries to the Environmental Health and Safety Office.

Funding Opportunities

Undergraduate Research & Creative Opportunity (URCO) Grants

The URCO Grant Program, funded by the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, was established in 1975 to support worthy independent student projects.

Undergraduate research is an inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to their discipline. Thus, undergraduate research is broadly defined and encompasses all types of scholarly and creative inquiry, including creating a sculpture, composing a piece of music, doing archival scholarly work and conducting experiments in the laboratory.

All undergraduate students in good academic standing may apply for an URCO grant. The application must designate a faculty advisor.

The URCO program is undergoing a substantial revision in the 2016-17 academic year. For specifics, please see the URCO web site.

Deadlines for the 2016-17 school year are as follows:

Spring application due: October 15 at 5:00 p.m.

Summer application due: February 15 at 5:00 p.m.

Fall application due: June 15th at 5:00 p.m.

Engineering Undergraduate Research Program (EURP)

EURP is designed to involve outstanding undergraduate students in research projects and encourage students to consider graduate school.

Students selected for the program are paid a minimum of $1,500 a semester for up to three semesters and are expected to work at least 10 hours per week, present research results at a professional venue and apply for the “Undergraduate Research Scholar” designation on their transcripts.

Travel Assistance

The Office of Research and Graduate Studies partially funds student travel to national undergraduate research conferences, including NCUR and Posters on the Hill. For more information, email scott.bates@usu.edu.

USUSA Academic Opportunity Fund (AOF) for Travel

The dramatic increase in undergraduates at Utah State presenting at professional conferences in their fields of study beyond NCUR and CUR events signaled a need for financial support. Fortunately, ASUSU stepped up to the challenge and created a fund specifically for undergraduates, which parallels the one for graduate students. About $20,000 annually is set-aside for this purpose, and funds tend to run out before the end of the year.

How to apply:

  • Complete all parts of the application
  • Attach a copy of your original acceptance letter
  • Submit a copy of your research abstract
  • Submit a cover letter and explanation of the conference and the benefit to USU of your presentation
  • Applications will be accepted up to six months prior to the conference date
  • Receive notice of your application status

Apply early for support when submitting the abstract/paper to the conference, rather than waiting until the invitation arrives.

Applications that feature matching funds from a faculty grant, the department, or college are viewed more favorably. Funds for summer travel must be secured during the academic year, as the oversight committee does not meet during this time.

Honors Research & Study Abroad Fund

The Honors Research and Study Abroad Fund are designed to give Honors students access to direct funding for activities that will academically enhance their undergraduate experience.

  • Students may apply for awards with a minimum amount of $50. Maximum award per year from each fund is $1000
  • Applications are considered on a rolling basis
  • Only active Honors students on track to graduate with Honors are eligible to apply
  • Students must apply for Honors Research or Study Abroad Funding before the project or event occurs. Honors will not award retroactive funding

Examples of learning opportunities eligible for Honors Research and/or Study Abroad funding:

  • Research, scholarship, and artistic activities or materials
  • Research trips to archives, libraries, or remote sites
  • International service opportunities
  • International or domestic internships
  • Participation in academic conferences
  • Enrollment in a non-USU course that would prepare the student for his or her capstone project
  • Partners in the Parks fees and travel expenses
  • Study abroad
  • Matching funds for URCO grants

Examples of ineligible expenses:

  • Personal equipment purchases (iPods, digital cameras, computers, or any equipment that would remain the property of the student)
  • Non-professional or educational travel (personal trips, vacations, social events)
  • USU tuition

How to apply:

The application form asks students to describe their needs, to develop a budget, and to identify other sources of funding for which they have applied. Students attending a conference, studying abroad, or traveling for a specific service opportunity must provide proof of acceptance to the program. Applicants must be Honors students in good standing and on track to graduate with Honors. Please download the application below, and submit a TYPED application form, a one-page budget, and a letter of support from a faculty member to the Honors Program in LLC Building A, Room 112 (or email to Amber Summers-Graham at amber.summers@usu.edu).

National and International Scholarships and Fellowships

For students who have engaged in research as undergraduates, a number of scholarships and fellowships may be appropriate for consideration to support research during the undergraduate years or in graduate school. The Honors staff is available to consult on applications. Many of these awards are extremely competitive, and it is wise to plan early. For any award, first do the homework yourself; review the foundation’s website and pay particular attention to such items as, “Are you a candidate for a Truman Scholarship?” which cue applicants to the appropriateness of their pursuit.

The Truman Foundation, for instance, seeks students who want to be “change agents” and who will pursue public service. A strong service record is important for Truman candidates; on the other hand, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship seeks the best researchers in science, technology, engineering, and medicine. The Morris Udall Scholarship supports a diverse array of majors that have interest in the environment, ranging from the expected Natural Resources majors to nature writing, from environmental engineering to landscape architecture.

The most prestigious awards are considered to be the Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships. Utah State has had seven Rhodes Scholars, the earliest in the 1921 and the most recent in 2004. Honors prepare students to be competitive, offering dry runs of the interview process and social events, through its fall scholarship prep course.

NSF Graduate Fellowships are natural awards for students at research universities, and the Colleges of Engineering and Science have a particularly strong track record in their students winning these. NSF includes not only the sciences but also many of the social sciences.

Applications are made on-line and are typically due in the late fall of any year. www.nsf.gov offers more information. USU’s investment in the Undergraduate research program is also an investment in students who will seek these prestigious awards.

Presentation Opportunities

Utah Research on Capitol Hill

Each January, Utah State University and the University of Utah join together as the state’s two public research universities to demonstrate the value of research to an undergraduate education to legislators with a showing of research projects and products in Salt Lake City at the State Capitol. Originated by Utah State in 2001, this event is reserved for students whose home residence is Utah. Parents are invited to this day as well as members of the Board of Regents and USU’s Board of Trustees.

Applications accepted starting: October 3

Applications due: November 15th

Event date: December 24

Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research

UCUR is designed to showcase the best undergraduate work from students all over the state. Undergraduates from all disciplines are invited to apply for the conference, which provides an excellent opportunity to students to present their work in a scholarly setting to students, faculty, field specialists and community members.

Presentations may include both visual and oral displays of work in all academic disciplines, from art history to molecular biology.

Applications accepted starting: September 15

Applications due: October 31

Event date: February 17th

National Conference on Undergraduate Research

The National Conference on Undergraduate Research is the largest conference of its kind in the United States. Annually some 2,000 participants — largely students but some faculty members — gather to share their work from all disciplines. Participation in this three to four-day event is funded through the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

To qualify, students must note the USU undergraduate research contact when submitting. For more information, visit www.ncur.org.

Applications accepted starting: October 5

Applications due: December 2

Event date: April 6 – 8

Student Research Symposium

Each spring, students are invited to participate in the campus celebration of research, scholarship, and creative activity. Research Week is an opportunity for faculty and students showcase their research projects. The Student Student Research Symposium celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Various departments also host in-house symposia, panels and poster sessions.

Applications due: February 20 at 5:00 p.m.

Event date: April 13 at 9:00 a.m.

Council on Undergraduate Research Posters on the Hill

Each spring the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) hosts an annual undergraduate poster session on Capitol Hill. This event helps members of Congress understand the importance of undergraduate research by talking directly with the students whom these programs impact. For more details on this years application process, please visit the Posters on the Hill information page.

Applications accepted starting: September 2
Applications due: November 4
Event date: April (specific date to be determined)

Summer Research Opportunities

It is not uncommon for students to look for summer jobs in order to earn extra money and gain experience. However, not all of these job experiences are relevant to a student’s career path. Thus, if you are looking for a work experience that will help you solidify your future and get paid in the process, joining a research program is the best way to spend your summer. Most programs offer great opportunities to travel out of state, covering your travel fees, lodging and even awarding you a stipend.

NSF REU

Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) gives students the opportunity to participate in research projects on REU sites at their home campus or other campuses. The NSF offers two types of REU funding: supplemental and site funding. Both types of funding programs expose students to a wide range of opportunities to acquire skills that will prepare them for future careers. Each REU site has a different set of criteria, deadlines, and application process. Double check on the web site to find the right program for you. Deadlines vary by REU site, but generally run between December and March.

ORAU

The Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) is a 105-member consortium of major PhD-granting academic institutions. Core areas of focus within ORAU include radiation emergency response and operational readiness, environmental health, analysis and communications, forensic analysis, science workforce technical training, development and evaluation.

Participating in ORAU will allow undergraduates interested in conducting real-world, multidisciplinary research to benefit from networking with researchers and fellow students through ORAU.

ORAU has an extensive network of partnerships among universities, government, industry and major research laboratories — including Oak Ridge National Laboratory — in research areas of strategic investment.

Eligibility criteria and other requirements vary depending on the program. Refer to ORAU guidelines.

SURF–NIST

The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship by the National Institute of Standards & Technology encourages outstanding undergraduate students to pursue careers in science and engineering. It aims to build a mutually beneficial relationship among the student, the institution, and NIST. The students will be given an opportunity to work with internationally known NIST scientists and be exposed to cutting-edge and state-of-the-art research. Visit the SURF–NIST page for FAQs, application package, guidelines and deadlines.

iUTAH iFellows

Undergraduate students from all Utah institutions of higher learning gain firsthand research experience by working with iUtah researchers and graduate students associated with the iUTAH project. Summer participants will participate in a 10-week research internship at the University of Utah, Utah State University, or Brigham Young University. iFellows will also attend cohort-building sessions where they will learn professional skills, practice poster and oral presentations, and engage with panels of STEM professionals from a number of different careers. Eligibility, deadlines, and other additional information about this program is available here.

Amgen Scholars Program

Provides the participants with hands-on summer research opportunities in biotechnology and related science and engineering fields at some of the world’s leading institutions. By participating in this program, students are able to participate in research projects, build relationships with faculty mentors and attend seminars and workshops — including the Amgen Scholars U.S. Symposium— where they interact and network with fellow scholars.

Units Supporting Undergraduate Research

Honors Program

The Honors Program is home to USU students brave enough to take Horace’s ancient challenge: Sapere Aude – or Dare to Know.  The Honors Program creates a community of dynamic, ambitious, creative students who want not simply to earn a degree at USU but also to create a life-changing experience for themselves. 

Honors students all learn to integrate the four key parts of an Honors education at USU: critical thinking, independent research, interdisciplinary learning and civic engagement.  Our students want to — and will — change the world.

Why Honors?

The Honors Program helps students to create this educational experience by offering many benefits, including:

Advising: Honors students get early priority registration and personalized advising with a Faculty Honors Advisor in the student’s major department and the Honors Program Coordinator and Advisor.

Funding: Honors students qualify for Honors-only financial support from the Honors Research Fund (covers research or conference travel and/or materials), the Honors Study Abroad Fund (supports international travel for academic study or service projects) and Honors Scholarships (fund academic and/or housing costs for select Honors students).

Coursework: Honors students enjoy enhanced classroom experiences, featuring Honors General Education Seminars that meet USU requirements and create student collaboration about real world problems; Practical Application Credit for extracurricular academic projects such as service, study abroad, internships, research and creative work; and Thesis/Capstone Projects designed by Honors students to showcase their research and creative skills to future employers or graduate programs.

Community: Honors students join a vibrant community of students and faculty fostered by monthly Faculty-Student Socials that allow students to practice networking skills and develop connections across disciplines; a Campus Calendar and weekly updates about upcoming events on campus; and Honors House in the Living and Learning Community, which is conveniently located next to the Honors office, lounge and classroom.

Contact the Honors Office for more information on how to be a part of this program.

Study Abroad

With USU’s study abroad program, students are able to gain a global perspective by being exposed to different worldviews. Students are expected to have an expanded degree of multicultural competence and an appreciation for similarities and differences in thought around the world.

To develop a global perspective, students are encouraged to study and research into various aspects of human thought, behavior, and culture while they are in another country. Focusing on the people’s beliefs, knowledge, and behaviors can provide valuable insights that may help shape the student’s career like Quinney Scholar, Hesper Kohler: 

“While studying abroad in Fiji, my focus changed from marine resources to freshwater quality. In Fiji, I did an independent research project on E. coli levels in a river that went through Suva. The water quality was poor, yet the people had to use it for daily activities such as bathing, and harvesting fish and shellfish. In the squatter settlements, the people had to drink the water.

“Seeing how the people depended on the river helped me realize what I want to do with my life. After I graduate from USU, I will apply to Oregon State University to their Environmental Science Masters Degree and focus on Water Resources. I want to work with educational outreach and help communities use their freshwater in the most sustainable way. I will develop programs with community members on how to clean their water supply, and help them understand the environmental and human relationships that depend on managing the water supply.”

USU Libraries

The main USU library is the Merrill-Cazier Library, located in the center of the Logan campus. Librarians are available for in-person research help at the Information Desk from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. most weekdays. 

On the library homepage, you can get personalized help from librarians and use hundreds of research databases to help you find the information you need. Librarians are available from our homepage via instant messenger chat from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. most weekdays. Additionally, you can call for assistance at 435-797-2678, text at 435-227-5420 or send an email to Library.Help@usu.edu.

The two major types of research tools the library has to help you discover information are:

Library Catalog: The library catalog includes all holdings, and you can find it linked on the homepage. If you’re looking for a book, journal or magazine you can just do a search for the title. Note: The catalog does NOT index articles, so searching for an article title will not work. To locate a known article, search for the journal/magazine/newspaper title in which it was published. To discover new articles, use databases.

Databases: If you need to find articles about a certain topic, databases are the way to go. Databases will help you discover articles, proceedings and book chapters. The library subscribes to hundreds of databases. You can find them by clicking on “Articles & Databases” on the homepage. They are arranged by subject area, though you can also search in one of the great multi-disciplinary databases, like Academic Search Premier.

Keep in mind that doing searches for academic information isn’t always as easy as searching Google. If you ever get frustrated in your searches, contact the library! You can visit the Information Desk in the Merrill-Cazier Library, or call, text or email.

Courses to Support Undergraduate Research

English 2010, Research Writing

This sophomore level writing class, also offered through Honors, offers an introduction to ethics and research so that any student is cued about responsible conduct of research. These principles are appropriate for researchers as well as for educated citizens and helps fulfill the University Studies mission statement of preparing “Citizen- Scholars.”

USU 4900, Undergraduate Research

Many departments have their own course prefix/number for undergraduate credit. For those departments that do not, the university number can be used. Grades are submitted by the Associate Vice President, and the work is evaluated by a faculty member.

USU 6900, Research Integrity/Non-Course Research Scholars Forum

Increasing emphasis among Federal funding agencies is being placed on ensuring that students and post-doctoral researchers are exposed to and comply with societal standards for the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR). All trainees receiving funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and from certain National Institutes of Health grants are required to participate in RCR programs. In addition beginning this year, all doctoral students are required to complete RCR training as well. Utah State University provides this training for all individuals through its Research Scholars Certification Program. It is offered without charge to all students and post-doctoral researchers.

Participants in this course will receive training required by key Federal agencies to participate in their grant programs, and successful completion will include both Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) and Institutional Review Board (IRB) certification. The course will provide an overview of approaches to moral reasoning and of core research integrity issues including:

  • Ethical treatment of human subjects in research
  • Ethical care and use of animals in research
  • Data management
  • Authorship and publication practices
  • Peer review
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Collaborative science
  • Mentor/trainee relationships
  • Research misconduct

The course uses a case-based learning approach, with required readings and preparation and analysis of one case. Advanced undergraduates and graduates may enroll.

Credit Courses, Volunteer Work and Employment

Students will find that departments have varying rules and principles on whether research may be done for credit or pay. Rarely would a department allow a student to receive both course credit and pay for a project. Explore the department’s expectations  with your faculty mentor or associate dean.

The University also has a Career Services Center which links the students to a meaningful career and employment. At the center, students are given the opportunity to choose a career, find an internship, prepare for graduate school, and find a job. USU understands that being able to locate a meaningful career can have a huge impact on an individual’s emotional and physical health, quality of life, and the ability to reach one’s highest potential.

All student employment jobs are posted in Career AGGIE. The site has a step-by-step guide and an overview section to help you navigate through the page.

If you are still unsure of what to do or you are still thinking of your career options, it is a good idea to visit the coaches at the Career Services Center so they can help you out.

Awards and Recognition

An award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor was created in 2003, and in 2004, it was joined by a parallel award to recognize each college’s Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher. These students, too, are recognized and honored at Student Showcase. The student’s accomplishments are highlighted in the Student Showcase booklet as well as in press releases. Names of college winners are submitted to the Research Office early in February of each year. Undergraduate researchers may nominate mentors to the appropriate college office.

Undergraduate Researchers of the Year

The University & College Undergraduate Researchers of the Year Awards were inaugurated in 2004 and endowed by David and Terry Peak in 2008. In addition to being an excellent student, a notable undergraduate researcher is one who has consistently engaged in independent inquiry, through classes, student employment, and independent research grants (URCO). Students also typically seek to share their results at undergraduate research events or professional conferences. All college Undergraduate Researchers of the Year should be submitted to be part of the selection pool, from which one will be chosen as the University Undergraduate Researcher of the Year.

Criteria

  • The student nominee must be a current student of USU
  • The student nominee must be the newly selected College Undergraduate Researcher of the Year for this college

Submission Materials

  • Name and A # of nominee
  • Curriculum vitae of the nominee in standard format including a complete list of publications, awards, sponsored projects and other recognitions by peers — international, national and regional
  • 200-word bio of the nominee
  • Current photograph (professional-type headshot preferred)

Process

  • Deans will fill out online form to submit one name
  • Each of the eight College Undergraduate Researcher of the Year Awardees will be interviewed by the Undergraduate Research Advisory Board as a key part of the selection process for the University Undergraduate Researcher of the Year Award
  • The deadline for online submissions to the RGS Office is January 31, 2017

Recognition

Each of the eight College Undergraduate Researcher of the Year Awardees will receive a $200 monetary award. The one selected as the University Undergraduate Researcher of the Year will receive an additional $300 monetary award. Nominees will be invited to USU’s Robins Awards Ceremonies, where the recipient will be announced. College nominees will be recognized at the Student Research Awards Ceremony during USU’s Research Week. The nomination form for the Undergraduate Researchers of the Year can be accessed here.

Undergraduate Research Mentors of the Year

The Office of Research and Graduate Studies seeks nominations of faculty from the colleges for Undergraduate Research Mentors of the Year. (Submissions can only be made by the college deans’ offices). Colleges are urged to specifically reach out to all RCDE units for inclusion in their college-wide processes. This faculty award was inaugurated in 2003 to recognize outstanding faculty members as mentors of undergraduate researchers. A good faculty mentor provides a role model for methods of inquiry in a field of study and for the responsible conduct of research. Good mentors often provide students with their first entry into professional circles and support the dissemination of the student’s work as through professional conference participation or publication.

Criteria

  • The faculty awardee must be a current employee of USU or have retired within the past 12 months prior to submission
  • The faculty awardee must be the newly selected College Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year for this college

Submission Materials

  • Name and A # of nominee
  • 200-word bio of the nominee
  • Current photograph (professional-type headshot preferred)

Process

  • Colleges will conduct college specific processes to select College Undergraduate Research Mentors of the Year Awardees
  • Colleges urged to specifically reach out to all appropriate RCDE units for inclusion in their college-wide process
  • Deans will complete the online form to submit one name

Recognition

USU faculty members often go beyond their duties as a mentor. They are passionate professionals who are willing to share their knowledge and expertise with students like you. They are also responsible in fostering intellectual and professional growth among their students. In recognition of their outstanding effort, students are encouraged to nominate mentors for the Mentor of the Year Award. The nomination form can be accessed here.

Awardee will be announced at USU’s Robins Awards. A $500 monetary award will be given to each of the eight colleges winners. Recipients will be recognized at the annual USU Research Gala, held during Research Week.

Transcript Designation

The Undergraduate Research Scholar Transcript Designation is given to more fully recognize the accomplishments of USU’s undergraduate researchers. To qualify for the Undergraduate Research Scholar the student must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete a minimum of two semesters of research, scholarship or creative activity supervised by a faculty mentor (quantifying a number of hours per week spent on the project is helpful); A specific quantity is not required since the work may take place over a minimum of two semesters or go at a different pace over an extended number of semesters
  • Disseminate research through a recognized venue such as the on-campus Student Showcase, Undergraduate Research Day at the State Capitol, Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research, National Conference on Undergraduate Research, Council on Undergraduate Research’s Posters on the Hill or a professional conference in the field of study; Alternate venues for creative activity may include art exhibitions or performances
  • Receive an endorsement from faculty mentor(s)
  • Submit a confirmation of the completion of the plan with a faculty mentor no later than two weeks before graduation in order for the transcript to be so marked (The faculty mentor can send confirmation of the application via e-mail)
  • Submit an electronic application for the transcript designation to the Undergraduate Research Program