What is Undergraduate Research?

The Office of Undergraduate Research provides support to faculty and students in their endeavors to engage in collaborative research and creative activities, mainly during the summer under the auspices of the Summer Research Fellows Program. The Office also provides support for poster fairs, travel to student conferences, and other activities that showcase student research/creative activity.

What do we mean by “undergraduate research” at Furman?

While students will be exposed to research practices or creative activities in their classes throughout the academic year, the primary mission of the Office of Undergraduate Research is to oversee the Summer Research Fellows Program. Each summer approximately 200 student Fellows and 90 faculty engage in fully-funded collaborative research experiences that involve a minimum of eight weeks of full-time work. The Office of Undergraduate Research oversees the fellowship application process, the fellowship payments, and the tracking of the faculty-student teams throughout the summer.

Who Participates in Undergraduate Research at Furman?

Every department on campus participates in undergraduate research. While it is not uncommon to equate research with the laboratory sciences, in fact usually only 50% of our Summer Fellowships are located in the laboratory sciences, with the remainder distributed throughout the social sciences, the arts and the humanities.

Why should a student consider spending a summer working with a professor on a research/creative project?

Because the experience of working closely with a faculty mentor and/or a small research team can result in relationships that last a lifetime.

Because immersing oneself in a research/creative project full-time for an entire summer results not only in learning more about the subject of study, but also it develops critical thinking skills and career competencies that will benefit the student far beyond the discipline at hand.

Because summer research can give students the opportunity to present their work at professional conferences, or even to publish with their collaborating faculty member, providing students with valuable experience before they’ve even finished their degree.

How does a student get involved in collaborative faculty-student research?

Applications for Summer Research Fellowships are faculty driven, meaning that it is the faculty’s research/creative agenda that drives the summer project. If a student wants to participate in summer research, they should contact a faculty mentor who will be taking on student Fellow(s) in the forthcoming summer. The faculty-student team then applies for funding together.

In addition to the Summer Fellowship Program through the Office of Undergraduate Research, funding for summer research is provided by department funds (in some departments), external grants awarded to individual faculty members, and the fellowship program of the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU)—applied through Furman’s Office of Undergraduate Research.

If you don’t know which professors to approach, contact the Director of Undergraduate Research, Dr. Erik Ching, and he can advise you.