Buffalo State formally launched its Office of Undergraduate Research in 2003, after intensive development of an enduring mission now entering its third decade of service to student achievement.
Mission and Goals
Undergraduate Research—student-centered scholarly inquiry or creative activity that makes an original intellectual or creative disciplinary contribution—is a high-impact learning practice that serves multi-faceted academic goals:
• UR challenges students to pose and answer meaningful questions, adding depth and relevance to coursework.
• UR increases high-quality interactions between students and faculty, enlivens the intellectual climate within the campus community, and stimulates discussions and collaborations within and across disciplines.
• UR assists students in developing problem-solving methodologies as well as skill sets in presentation and communication, and builds confidence in their ability to conduct research and creative activity.
When it comes to undergraduate research, the process is as important as the product.
A Past President of the Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR), Dr. Jill K. Singer was initially appointed Coordinator for Buffalo State’s campus-wide research programs in 1997. Two core programs were introduced in 1998: the prestigious Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowships and the annual Student Research & Creativity Conference. Now approaching its 23rd year of recognizing distinguished student achievement, USRF continues to support advanced scholarly and creative endeavor with nearly $2 million awarded to date. SRCC celebrated its 20th event in 2018, having become a beloved Buffalo State tradition for undergraduates and graduate students alike, with over 7500 presentation abstracts recorded in its annual Programs.
Over the two decades of Dr. Singer’s subsequent service as OUR Director, she initiated Travel Awards for students presenting at professional disciplinary events, and a Small Grants program to provide seed funding for both curricular and co-curricular projects conducted during the academic year. The Integrating Undergraduate Research into the Curriculum (IURC) program supplemented these 2003 additions by encouraging faculty to integrate such activity directly into both new and existing coursework.
Dr. Singer promoted OUR opportunities across campus and tracked the impressive student progress that resulted, successfully institutionalizing undergraduate research and creative activity throughout all Schools. EvaluateUR was developed in 2008 as a data-driven methodology to assess the longitudinal impact of USRF and provide vital feedback to fellows and faculty mentors. Dr. Singer’s efforts resulted in numerous academic presentations, journal publications, and a National Science Foundation WIDER grant (2018) that collectively established Buffalo State as a national model. By 2019, EvaluateUR had been successfully piloted at over forty colleges and universities and received renewed NSF support for its application to ancillary programs such as course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs).
OUR continues to evolve dynamically from solid foundations – demonstrating social responsibility by “going green,” for example, with the opening of online application portals in 2006-2007 – and is well positioned for continued relevance in a global environment undergoing rapid transformation.
Dr. Goodman expanded OUR’s foundational work with particular emphasis on the fledgling Early Undergraduate Research Opportunity (EURO) program, introduced in 2017. Designed to retain academically talented lower-division students, EURO offers baccalaureate candidates meaningful research experiences in their major fields by contributing as assistants to ongoing faculty research and creative agendas. Dr. Goodman expanded EURO eligibility to both academic semesters while maintaining funding of student research and creative activity conducted on four continents. After departing OUR to act as Interim Dean of The School of Natural and Social Sciences, Dr. Goodman continued to administer the USRF program each summer. After his stint as interim Dean, Dr. Goodman returned to his post as Director of Undergraduate Research in Fall 2021.
The first OUR director from The School of Arts and Humanities, Dr. Guzski built on previous OUR strengths to initiate the inaugural “Digital SRCC” in 2020 in response to the global Covid-19 crisis. Over 200 students contributed projects virtually, providing a robust experience via Butler Library’s Digital Commons platform that united the campus community at a critical juncture. Dr. Guzski also initiated a EURO Micro-Projects modality that responds to current trends in micro-credentialing, in order to maintain vital student connections with faculty in Buffalo State’s proactive Keep Learning atmosphere. Throught the crisis students continued to receive support, working individually or in teams, in all existing award programs for innovative digital and hybrid projects across all disciplines.
OUR Students and Alumni
OUR-funded students – now numbering well over 1000 – represent all Schools and disciplines on campus, and have traveled to every continent except Antarctica to conduct and present their research, scholarly, and creative activities.
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