The Benefits of Participation
Mentoring undergraduates certainly takes time and energy; however, LASURI research partnerships are structured and supported in ways that help students and faculty reach their broader professional and academic goals. These are just a few of the benefits of participating in LASURI:
LASURI students are bright, interested, and highly motivated. Students participating in this program have expressed an independent desire to explore your topic of interest, and are enthusiastic about the work you do.
LASURI is designed so that faculty can spend as much time as they like vetting applicants. You can meet with students who are interested in working on your project and determine with whom you would like to create a research partnership, before submitting an application.
LASURI students cost you nothing. URAs are given an award for participating in LASURI, and you receive a fixed amount per year for research expenses related to your URA's project. This allows faculty members with limited resources to make significant progress on their research with no cost to their own budget.
Mentoring undergraduates contributes to their success. Studies have shown that these types of collaborative projects improve the retention, performance, and graduation rates of underrepresented and at-risk students.
Selecting an Undergraduate Research Assistant
There are a few simple steps involved with beginning the LASURI process and selecting a student.
Go to the Undergraduate Research Experience (URE) website and create a research profile describing your work and what you will expect from your URA. Students who see your research profile on the website will fill out a form, and an email containing that information will automatically be sent to you. If you have already identified a prospective undergraduate research assistant, you do not need to create a URE profile.
Although mentors from all colleges are welcome, preference may be given to faculty having an affiliation with LAS. In addition, mentors who have agreed to work with more than one student will be asked to rank the students in order of preference; although more than one of these students may be funded, LASURI strives to reach as many faculty as possible. For the same reason, if applications from students who have previously received LASURI funding are allowed, preference will be given to students who have not previously received LASURI funding.
Once you have made sure that the prospective student is in LAS (LAS minors do not necessarily mean they are in LAS), set up interviews with the students that you may be interested in mentoring and ask them to bring a copy of the description of the type of questions included in the application — or the LASURI student application if the application period is open (you will need to scroll down to the bottom of the instructions page to access the form) — to guide your discussion.
Work with your Undergraduate Research Assistant to design a project that s/he can reasonably complete within one to two semesters. Some abstracts from prior LASURI projects are available here. The student’s ability to describe his/her research project, including the data and methods to be used, the hypotheses or questions to be asked and the larger goals of the project, will be an important part of the selection project. This is really a mini-grant application for the student, so feel free to help with the research design and proofread the application before s/he submits the final version.
The student does not need to develop the project independently; it can be a project that you assign, but the application should communicate clearly what exactly s/he will be doing and why s/he will be doing it. The application is only available during the application period, but you are encouraged to explore an overview of the type of questions included on the LASURI application at your convenience before the application is released.
Clarify your expectations with your URA. To avoid any misunderstandings later on, we ask that you make your expectations regarding responsibilities, time commitment and final product explicit at the beginning of the semester (URAs should devote 6-10 hours per week to their research project).
Complete the faculty mentor portion of the student’s application by the deadline so that the selection committee can fully review each student applicant.
Presentation of Research
The research project is not complete until your student has presented his or her work in a public forum and submitted an abstract to LASURI. Students are expected to present their research at the UIC Student Research Forum. Students may also discuss their work at department colloquia, at national undergraduate research conferences, and at professional conferences. We ask that you acknowledge the funding source in all presentations.