Undergraduate Research Committee

2009-2010 Year-end Report

Submitted by Nicholas Downey, Chair


1. Senate Charge 2009-2010

a. The Senate charged the committee with reviewing the timing of the UW-L Celebration of Research and Creativity.

b. The committee has discussed this matter in some depth and concluded that while the Celebration is early in the Spring Semester for those students who have been funded in the Fall Grant Competition, it is not practical to move to a later date.  As well as providing an on-campus means of presenting students accomplishments, the Celebration provides a “practice” for the students who will attend NCUR, UW System Symposium and Posters at the Rotunda.  These events occur from mid-April, through the beginning of May and thus make it difficult to schedule the Celebration any later.

c. The committee has concluded that for the foreseeable future the Celebration will need to occur at least one week before the date set for the NCUR meeting.


2. Funding for Undergraduate Research

a. Continuing to acknowledge the importance of providing students with opportunities for engaging in professional experiences and activities, we continued to receive funds from both the Academic Initiatives and the Provost’s Office.

i. The Provost’s contribution was $100,000 (same as 2008- 09).

ii. Academic Initiative funding was $23,200 (same as 2008- 09).

iii. Our total budget this academic year, including the $20,000 from the International Education Office, and a carry-over from last year was $163,692.


3. The Grants Funded

a. The committee conducted a fall grants competition resulting in 48 proposal submissions. Following extensive evaluation, 41 of the proposals were funded for a total of $53,919.

b. The committee conducted a spring grants competition resulting in 42 proposal submissions. Following extensive evaluation, 39 of the proposals were funded for a total of $55,775.

c. While the number of proposals submitted was a little down from 2008-09, the quality of proposal increased significantly leading to an increase in the number of proposals funded. We funded a total of $109,694 ($44,940 awarded to international projects).


4. 12th Annual UW-L Celebration of Student Research and Creativity

a. Held on Friday, April 9, 2009.

b. There were 79 Poster presentations, 26 Oral presentations and 4 Art exhibitions/performances (these numbers includes graduate students).

c. Approximately 560 people attended.

d. The UW-L Foundation contributed $800 to provide food and beverages at the Celebration.

e. For the second time, there was a system (established by Amery Bodelson, Nicole Johnson and VJ Agarwal) to judge both the posters and the oral presentations. Teams of two (either a faculty member and a student, or two faculty members) were sent to evaluate and score the presentations. Final scoring then led to awards of $50 to the top 8 poster presentations and top 2 oral presentations.


5. Off Campus Student Presentations

a. This year NCUR took place in Missoula MT April 15-17, 2010. The committee was able to fund 21 students to attend (17 fully and four partially funded).

i. The guidelines that were formed by last year’s committee were used for the first time and for the most part appeared to work very well.  There was some concern expressed by faculty members that the default position of fully funding the primary author was inappropriate.  The committee has concerns about maintaining organizational tracking of monies but has begun a discussion of how to keep flexible in distributing funds to submitting students.

b. The UW System Symposium was held at UW- River Falls on April 30, 2010

The committee reviewed submissions and selected, and fully funded 11 students to present the results of their projects at the UW Symposium.

c. The 7th Annual Posters in the Rotunda, Madison occurred on May 5, 2010

The committee reviewed submissions and selected 8 students, who presented 6 posters.  Students represented the departments of Biology, Exercise and Sports Science, Sociology/Anthropology, and Modern Languages.


6. Process for the Submission of Grants

a. This is the first full year in which the committee received grant submissions electronically.

i. Student put together the proposals and emailed them to the Grants and

Contracts office. A few minor glitches continue to occur, but the submission for both Spring and Fall appeared to go well..

ii. While the new system runs smoothly and saves resources, it also requires substantial work from staff in the Grants & Contracts Office. This could be considerably reduced if an on-line submission program were used.

1. If it has not already been developed, then next year’s committee should be charged to explore the implementation of an on-line submission system.

2. I would urge the Senate and Provost’s office to work together to

secure funds for that system’s continued maintenance after its

initial development.

b. The International Education Committee made a recommendation to the committee to increase the communication between study tour leaders and students planning on carrying out research during the tour.

i. The following to be added to the grant submission form:

“If student research is to occur on a faculty-led study tour or faculty led International Program, signatures of the faculty/staff leading the tour are required for proposal submission.”

ii. The committee approved this recommendation and the language was added to forms in time for the Spring Grant Competition.


7. Journal of Undergraduate Research

a. Last year, due to cost and underutilization, the committee recommended that we stop

producing CDs of the Journal and, for now, make it an online journal.  This year the journal will be produced in it’s current form online.  There is some dissatisfaction with this format.

i. The senate requested a plan for this method for disseminating of the results of student research and creativity.  The committee has discussed various options, in consultation with the current Editor of the Journal (Prof. Aaron Monte) and the Provost’s Office and submits to the Senate a new proposal (see appendix).




Web resource:  UWL Highlights of Undergraduate Research and Creativity



UW-L has had a long history of publishing independent projects by undergraduate students.  Initially, these came mostly from the sciences and so the editor of the Journal of Undergraduate Research (JUR) was able to make decisions on the quality of the papers.  As more students from across campus submitted papers, it became harder for the editor to maintain a level of quality (beyond copy editing).  During this period the journal also went from a paper edition to a CD to, mostly recently, an online resource. 

Meanwhile the Provost’s Office has increased its requirement for students receiving undergraduate research and creativity grants to write a report at the end of their project.  This report is very brief and is used to track the progress and/or success of each grant recipient.

These factors have led to dissatisfaction from the JUR editor and the committee with the way these independent student projects (both grant recipients and others) are broadcast to a larger audience.



The Undergraduate research and creativity committee proposes to remove the current format of the JUR and replace it with an online resource tentatively called “UWL Highlights of Undergraduate Research and Creativity”.


This website will present one project from each Department* chosen by the Department and submitted to the Office of the Provost.  The source of the project’s funding is not important.  The emphasis should be on the quality of the work presented.    An online format has the advantage of being able to display images, audio or video more easily than previous formats.  Additionally, it can be easily linked to on a student’s resume or job/school application.


The committee strongly encourages each department to establish/continue their own online display of research or creativity for undergraduate students. Because we’re no longer going to publish multiple projects from a department, we recommend departments publish other submitted work on their own website.


The committee has chosen “Highlights” for specific reasons.  With the burgeoning of field specific undergraduate research journals, a mentor or student may prefer to publish in a National Journal. In some fields, any “publication” may prevent further use of the material in other publications.  Therefore we can avoid these issues, by producing a version of the work that is not identical to the version published elsewhere.


The committee recognizes that different disciplines have different presentation formats and suggests that each Department regulates the format their projects will conform to.


An approximate timeline for publication would be as follows:

Student submission to Department: end of Spring Semester

Department submission to Provost’s Office: first week of Fall Semester

Publication on Website: third week of October.


* We use the word “Department” to represent an organizational unit.  Some departments (e.g. those providing different degrees or very large departments) may choose to be represented by subgroups. It should be noted that each “subgroup” will be listed on the “Highlights” website each year and so it is recommended these subgroups are large enough to be able to produce more than one project each year.