The Power of Undergraduate Research

Students at the University of Georgia benefit from an unparalleled academic environment that is made even more vibrant by undergraduate research. UGA is one of only a handful of institutions across the country where undergraduate students can complete up to four years of faculty-mentored research in any discipline on campus. This type of hands-on learning helps students build enduring relationships with faculty and valuable skills for the future. 

I saw the strength of UGA’s undergraduate research program on full display yesterday at the 17th annual CURO Symposium. Sponsored by the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO), the Symposium showcases the work of undergraduate researchers in a variety of disciplines. This year, for the first time ever, the number of student presenters exceeded 500—with more than 550 students presenting their research. The percentage of student presenters outside of the Honors Program also reached its highest level at 55 percent. These gains have been driven in part by the undergraduate research assistantship program established in 2014 and the University’s emphasis on experiential learning.

Each CURO Symposium presenter is mentored by a faculty member who provides guidance throughout the research process. The mentors play an invaluable role in teaching students the fundamentals of academic research. In addition, they serve as a trusted resource for students as they explore career options and learn how to be a professional in their field. It is no surprise that every UGA student who has won a major national academic scholarship has participated in undergraduate research—including our newest Rhodes Scholar, Laura Courchesne. 

As the number of undergraduate researchers continues to increase, so does the positive impact our students are making as they help to solve the grand challenges of our time.