Undergraduate Research Transcript Designation: An Asset to Graduates

Since spring 2007, Utah State University students who meet certain requirements have had the option of adding the title “Undergraduate Research Scholar” to their transcripts. This designation is given to more fully recognize the accomplishments of USU’s undergraduate researchers.

“Most college students have to wait until graduate school to delve into the world of research, but at Utah State University, students can immerse themselves in the work of research and discovery while still undergraduates,” said Joyce Kinkead, associate vice president for research at USU. “After completing a minimum of two semesters of undergraduate research under faculty supervision, students can then apply to have the designation added to their own transcripts. The designation signifies that the student has participated in independent research, scholarship, or creative activity.”

“As a little girl, my favorite question to ask was, ‘why,’” said Uyen Lam, a recent alumna and research student in cellular and molecular biology. “I loved peering into the microscope and entering the world of microbes, wondering how something so small could cause dramatic manifestation of disease in a perfectly healthy body. My research gives me the opportunity to answer these childhood questions firsthand.” Lam graduated as one of the first research scholars with the designation in May of 2008. She is now at the University of Utah Medical School.

More than thirty students have already received the undergraduate research designation since the first semester it was available (December 2007), and dozens more are working towards it. Student research projects range from sculpting works of art to researching air pollution in Cache Valley.

“Utah State is one of very few universities in the country that gives formal recognition for undergraduate research work,” said Kinkead. “USU is recognized across the nation for its emphasis on student-centered, hands-on learning with faculty who care.”
“The Research Office continues to find ways to recognize and support students in their research, scholarship, and creative activity; the Transcript Designation is a visible recognition of work that students have done that augments their classroom studies,” said Brent Miller, vice president for research.

Many students, including Mike Larson, feel that this addition to their transcripts will better their chances of getting into graduate, medical, and law school.

“It helped me get in medical school,” said Larson, who graduated in May of 2008 with a degree in physics and is now attending the Medical College of Wisconsin for a combined M.D. and Ph.D. program.

“Conducting research that I planned and designed is extremely rewarding,” said Adam Kynaston, who graduated in May of 2008 with a degree in psychology. Kynaston has not only the transcript designation but also the distinction of being the University Undergraduate Researcher of the Year as well as the Peak Undergraduate Researcher of the Year for the College of Education and Human Services.

Students wishing to apply for the Undergraduate Research Scholar designation must complete an application, available at http://research.usu.edu/undergradresearch/ur-transcript-designation/ and have it signed by the supervising faculty member. Electronic submission is preferred; all submissions should be sent to Dr. Kinkead at joyce.kinkead@usu.edu.