Faculty Involvement

Undergraduate Research and Fellowships is interested in supporting existing research opportunities for students, and in developing additional means to support research initiatives and faculty-student collaborations. We are happy to advertise research opportunities that faculty may know about or be involved in and we welcome the opportunity to support other initiatives as well. Please feel free to contact us at ugrad-urf@columbia.edu with questions that you may have.

Undergraduate Research and Fellowships: Summer Research Opportunities

Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (URF) has funding to support students interested in engaging in full-time research over the summer. While students may develop their own independent research projects, we also welcome the opportunity to connect students with faculty who are interested in having an undergraduate researcher contribute to a specific research project of their own. Through this collaboration, undergraduate researchers have the opportunity to engage in research activities in a specific academic discipline. The hope is that this collaboration will enable students to learn firsthand about what academic research entails; that they will have the opportunity to develop relationships with experts in their field; and that this experience will enrich their undergraduate experience while allowing them to consider academic and postgraduate careers. If you are interested in proposing a project, or if you'd like to explore ways that we can publicize or support the application project for a research opportunity, please e-mail ugrad-urf@columbia.edu.

Creating Effective Student/Research Mentor Partnerships

There are several key ingredients to establishing effective student/research mentor partnerships. Below is our “top eight” list of the items that are important for research mentors to consider as they select and connect with undergraduate researchers.

  1. Selecting a student who is enthusiastic and curious about your project is the best indicator of success.
  2. The project that you develop/assign to your undergraduate researcher is often a small part of a larger project. It can be helpful for the student to understand the background of the project and the project’s larger goals, in addition to the specific responsibilities that they are undertaking. This allows them to be more invested in the work, and to understand their own role more comprehensively.
  3. Orient your student to the project through background readings so that they can get a good sense of the context of the project; if this is a larger, group project introducing the student to the others working on the project can help them feel like a part of the research community, just as it can allow them to understand others’ roles, and their own.
  4. Set clear expectations for the project and what tasks you will be giving the student and why. Keep in mind that while student responsibilities may range from the mundane to the substantive, the expectation is that students engage in research in ways that will allow them to understand what knowledge production in a particular field requires, and to participate in knowledge production through their engagement with your project. It may be helpful to remember that the student will be required to develop a poster presentation about their participation in your project, and to do so, they need to be able to speak about a topic (or a tiny part of a topic) in substantive ways.
  5. Be very clear about your expectations regarding schedules and communication. If this student is working independently, what do you expect them to produce, when and how should they share this work with you? If they are coming to a specific location, what are the expectations about hours, and how should they contact you should an issue arise? If you have a preference for how the student should communicate with you, or to whom they should ask questions (you, a graduate student, someone else), make this clear to the student.
  6. Arrange meeting times with your student to touch base, review progress and performance, answer questions, discuss challenges, maybe even chatting about life outside of research. While the timing of such meetings is up to each mentor to determine, regular interaction is the goal.
  7. If the student is doing something wrong, or needs to adjust their approach to the project, immediate feedback is helpful for allowing them to understand what they’re doing wrong, and getting them back on track.
  8. If any problems arise, contact ugrad-urf@columbia.edu, as we will gladly work to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.