Undergraduate research and creative inquiry at the University of Iowa (UI) will look a little different this summer. Rather than spending time in labs, clinics, libraries, and creative spaces, UI undergraduates will be conducting research and exploring creative processes from their laptops and kitchen tables. Many of these students will also receive financial support in the form of scholarships from the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates’ (ICRU) Research Fellowship Program. ICRU is a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Every summer, through a competitive application process, ICRU awards scholarship funding to around 100 undergraduate researchers and creative scholars working with faculty and staff mentors. Scholarships are supported largely through the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education. When undergraduates were restricted from on-campus research for an undetermined time, the program looked as though it might be in jeopardy.
Summer is one of the busiest times for undergraduate research. Many students count on summers for intensive research experiences. So ICRU asked all mentors who had applied for student funding if they could rearrange their plans and commit to working with students virtually. UI faculty and staff stepped up. While some projects involved travel or specific hands-on involvement, over 80% of mentors were able to shift to virtual projects so their students could continue their efforts over the summer.
While their approaches may be novel, undergraduates at the UI will still be actively pursuing projects this summer in the sciences, arts, humanities, business, and at the intersection of these disciplines. They will be learning practices that are crucial for their education and careers, thanks tothe teamwork of faculty and staff across the university who have come together to drive ICRU’s mission of educating undergraduates through research and creative inquiry at the University of Iowa.
Photo: Undergraduate researcher Ali Milani conducts research from home.