The Summer Undergraduate Research Program is underway for the fourth consecutive year at Western Carolina University.
The program is an initiative overseen by the university’s Honors College and the Office of the Provost, and is open to all WCU undergraduates. To be considered for the program, current students interested in participating had to identify a faculty member with whom they wished to collaborate and submit a proposal describing their research project and its goals during January and February. Students selected to participate had their proposals reviewed by a committee of faculty representatives from each college on campus.
To be selected to participate is a great accomplishment, said WCU undergraduate research coordinator and program organizer Kloo Hansen, as only 10 students and their faculty mentors were chosen out of 21 submitted proposals, a record number for the program. This year's participants represent every college on campus with a wide variety of research topics to be investigated.
Faculty members and students are receiving stipends for their research work and enjoy various programming and professional development opportunities. Some of the opportunities include a specialized poster writing and presentation workshop, as well as a tailored resume writing workshop where students can create a resume with a research focus.
Scottie Kapel, assistant professor and outreach and scholarly communication librarian with Hunter Library, and Carrie Hachadurian, student development coordinator from WCU’s Center for Career and Professional Development, work closely with Hansen and Jill Granger, dean of the Honors College, to develop the workshops for the participating students. The students also get to enjoy a hiking excursion to Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway and social events throughout the summer program to build a community of inquiry.
The 2019 research projects and team members (participating student, faculty mentor) are:
At the end of the eight-week experience, the students will formally present their research findings at the 2019 Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium, to be held July 24 in Brown Hall’s Sunset Room.
“I never imagined that I would have this opportunity in my life,” said Henderson, speaking from Huqoq, a small village located near the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Her summer project involves ongoing archaeological work at a fifth-century synagogue holding floor mosaics depicting both biblical and nonbiblical scenes. Britt, her faculty mentor, has been involved with the antiquities research and field school there since 2012, as the mosaics specialist.
“It has given me hands-on experience, and I have learned things about art history and history that I would never be able to learn from reading a book,” she said. “I have met students from all over the U.S., Canada and Europe as well as the Israelis who are part of our team. It has been fascinating to live in another culture where English is not the main language and the food is different. I have only been here for two weeks and feel like there is still so much to learn.
“I have never done this kind of work, and it is much more detailed than I realized. But, it is amazing to see the mosaics come to life after being covered with dirt for over a thousand years,” Henderson said. “How could a small village afford to build such a large building and decorate it with these colorful mosaics? It shows that people who lived in the past were just as creative as artists today.”
For more information about the program, contact Hansen at 828-227-2010 or firstname.lastname@example.org.