An annual celebration of undergraduate research and creative activity, the Undergraduate Research Week was first introduced in 2010 by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Since then, every year, colleges and universities all over the U.S. hold Undergraduate Research Week as an opportunity for undergraduates to explore research and creative work and to provide ways for as many undergraduate students as possible to get involved in research. This year, Undergraduate Research Week is celebrated from April 19 to 23.
It is a national celebration, so every college and university usually prepares a program to showcase its work and congratulate students on their research. This is the time when students can present their research findings; however, this is also the time to remind ourselves that research enables evolution and that it’s important to keep doing it in every sphere as well as support research work.
Can I Participate in the Undergraduate Research Week?
Yes! All you need is to be enthusiastic, passionate, and motivated. If you’ve already been doing research, it’s even better! Check your university’s schedule for this week and get involved in the activities that interest you.
How Can I Celebrate the Undergraduate Research Week?
If you are an undergraduate student involved in research work, Undergraduate Research Week is the perfect time to showcase it. You can check your college program and enlist your research project for presentation.
Alternatively, if you think that some undergraduate research success story should be made known to the world outside your lab, you can have it featured in the monthly Undergraduate Research Highlights of the Council of the Undergraduate Research (CUR). This year, the Council is expecting essays of 250-750 words about everything that improves and aids research work in colleges and universities: stories about success, integration, and innovation—anything that highlights research can be offered for publication. Contact them via email.
Here are a few of their latest highlights:
How Do Universities Celebrate Undergraduate Research Week?
Let’s take a look at how some of the universities and colleges plan to celebrate the Undergraduate Research Week.
The University of Texas
Research Week at the University of Texas at Austin is a diverse and dynamic week filled with various research-related activities where students can learn about research opportunities and present their own research and where departments can showcase their achievements. If you are a student there, we recommend attending their multi-disciplinary Longhorn Research Poster Session. Participants are to present posters and participate in one of three 90-minute sessions to showcase their work. They also compete to win one of the monetary awards (a $1,000 audience choice award, a $500 poster design award, and several other presentation awards).
Towson University Research Week‘s events are held to celebrate the excellence of research performed by university students and faculty members. During this week, students can prepare poster presentations of their own research as well as learn about research opportunities in other departments and colleges.
Illinois Office of Undergraduate Research
This year, during Undergraduate Research Week (URW), the Illinois Office of Undergraduate Research holds its signature event, its 15th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS). Check the calendar not to miss the workshops and various virtual and in-person presentations from different departments.
UCLA (University of California)
Undergraduate Research Week celebrates undergraduate research at UCLA where students can showcase and share their research work. Being the largest undergraduate conference, the Undergraduate Research & Creativity Showcase will be held virtually this year and feature hundreds of live student presentations. Best presentations will receive awards.
Why Do I Need to Get Involved in Research?
If you are not sure whether you need to participate in research as an undergraduate student or not, here are some ideas. There is hardly any field that has been so thoroughly researched that there is no more room for improvement and innovation. So many questions are still waiting to be answered, and you, as an undergraduate student, have all the opportunities to uncover new knowledge and insights.
Besides, you can gain a lot from becoming a researcher both on personal and professional levels. Engaging in undergraduate research will help you:
- Gain skills and experience in your chosen professional field
- Expand your professional network
- Connect with other enthusiasts
- Acquire a habit of thinking critically about pretty much everything
- Learn new methods and techniques of research that you can use in different spheres of life
- Improve your CV
- Lay a foundation for your future career
When Is the Best Time to Start?
The short answer is the earlier, the better. As an undergraduate, we recommend starting right during your freshman year.
- As a matter of fact, you can engage in research work at any point, but if you start doing it right from the start, you will have a long span of time (which is essential for some research types), or you can engage in several projects and decide which one is more interesting for you to work with.
- You can also participate in research programs over the summer or throughout the academic year.
- Alternatively, you can do research outside college and participate in other research opportunities.
Regardless of the option you choose, we strongly encourage you to become involved in research activities as an undergraduate student. We also encourage you to participate in all the activities that your college or university holds for Undergraduate Research Week to gain insights into the present-day findings and celebrate research and innovation!