The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship creates paths for students, faculty

Courtesy GVSU

Grand Valley State University’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship, commonly known as OURS, is dedicated to helping students reach new goals. OURS aims to help students follow their curiosities and explore subjects within their focus of study.

OURS provides support, programs, resources, advising and direct mentoring for students interested in undergraduate research to encourage learning and offer avenues to do so. 

“Research can be anything, so it can be anything within your major, outside your major. It can be having a particular question that you want to explore, a hypothesis that you want to test,” said Susan Mendoza, the director of the Center for Undergraduate Student Engagement (CUSE). “It could be an art project, it could be a piece of music. So it’s beyond that traditional perspective of someone working in a wet lab.”

GVSU students who want to partake in research grapple with questions when it comes to funding their projects.

“(Money) has never been a barrier that I’ve seen. The barrier tends to be students asking that initial question,” Mendoza said. “It’s not necessarily asking for too much or what to ask for. We provide a lot of guidance around that.” 

When it comes to funding, OURS connects individuals with the resources they need varying from project to project. The Academic Professional Enrichment Fund (APEF), Academic Conference Fund and Micro-Grant offer distinct avenues. APEF is for faculty applicants only and supports faculty taking students to conferences, exhibits or presentations. It serves to aid in student travel to increase exposure to academic subjects. Additionally, the Academic Conference Fund functions to help students travel to conferences or events where they can present their research. 

The Micro-Grant, a new initiative launched in the fall 2023 semester, is tailored for students participating in Student Scholars Day (SSD). This micro-grant motivates the exploration of the annual SSD theme. This year’s theme is “The Complexity of Home,” which students may investigate from the perspective of their major. 

Students may find it challenging to begin to pursue academic research. To help, students are encouraged to connect with faculty members. Anna Hammersmith, a professor of sociology at GVSU, is responsible for hosting five “Get Involved With Undergraduate Research” workshops throughout the semester. The goal of these sessions is to inform students of the various paths they can take to complete their research, or how they can help faculty with existing projects. 

“The point of the workshop is to teach students about that and also give them the skills to find those opportunities on their own,” Hammersmith said. “So sort of developing those independence and self-advocacy skills.” 

Hammersmith said another common misunderstanding is that OURS simply pairs students with faculty who are looking for assistance. However, this is not the case. Faculty can go to the OURS program to seek willing student participants, but the students have a more active role in the selection of the research they would like to participate in. 

“Finding undergraduate research opportunities is all about the student sort of taking the lead and seeking out those opportunities,” Hammersmith said. 

Students may attend Hammersmith’s first workshop on Jan. 22 at 4 p.m., located at 1142 Kirkhof Center. For faculty interested in research, the “Get To Know OURS: For Faculty,” event will be held on Jan. 19, 2 p.m. at the Laker Club on the GVSU Allendale Campus.

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