The University Record, April 15, 2002

Event draws young researchers together

By Elizabeth Manasse
Record Intern

The intellectual curiosity of the University was showcased April 10 at the 2002 Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program Spring Research Symposium. The event featured the work of 800 undergraduate students involved in research projects from nearly every school and college on campus. The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program, better known as UROP, pairs first-and-second year students with faculty for research partnerships.

“The symposium is an opportunity for students to share their research topics with each other and the campus community,” says Sandra Gregerman, UROP director. “It’s an exciting way for people to see the intellectual vitality at this University.” The symposium also allows students to formally present their work, an important skill for researchers of all disciplines, says Gregerman. The symposium, which was held in the Mendelssohn Theater, included 30 oral and 350 poster presentations.

“UROP allows students to interact personally with a faculty member and explore a discipline up close,” Gregerman says. “The program enriches the academic experience at the University of Michigan. It’s very different from a classroom setting and it’s amazing to see the expertise students acquire in only a year.” The skills students build during their research projects can be called on later in their careers or education, Gregerman says.

“Great advances are the consequences of research,” said keynote speaker Levi Thompson, associate dean, Undergraduate Education. “UROP is an opportunity to learn outside of the classroom, and the more you learn, the more you want to learn.” UROP also is an opportunity for faculty to serve the community, Thompson said. More than 450 faculty researchers were involved in UROP this year.

“This symposium is a glimpse of the best Michigan has to offer,” said senior vice provost for academic affairs Lester Monts. “As I walk around, it looks like a major research conference and I’m in complete awe.” Students’ participation in UROP, Monts said, shows that they are taking their education seriously and are passionate about learning.

UROP began in 1989 with 14 student-faculty partnerships. The program, which continues to grow each year, includes minority and majority students but maintains its original emphasis on underrepresented minority students and an emerging focus on women in science disciplines.