What is the URC?
The Undergraduate Research Center is an umbrella organization at MTSU, created in 2004 to promote research at the undergraduate level to students, faculty, administrators, and legislators, and to provide university support for undergraduate students and the faculty members who mentor them in scholarly and creative activities.
What is undergraduate research?
We use the term research broadly to include the creation of new knowledge or original works through scholarship, such as:
- interpreting of Tennyson's poem "In Memoriam"; ;
- to laboratory research such as building an array of microphores to detect a security threat using sound through smoke, fog, or fabric ;
- to creative activities like telling the human impact story of the recent fly ash spill in Kingsport, TN through black and white photography.
Research is not limited by the classification of the student - it is a continuum of accomplishment from the beginner to the expert. Many MTSU undergraduate researchers are quite accomplished, publishing papers in respected peer-reviewed journals, reporting at disciplinary meetings, or performing in national competitions.
Universities do research as part of their missions (teaching, research, service). As the institution with the largest undergraduate population in TN, MTSU is committed to being a leader in undergraduate education in the state. MTSU is known for student-centered learning and great classroom teaching. A natural extension of the classroom is the one-on-one interaction between a research student and his/her mentor that can shape a student's career.
Why should the university fund undergraduate research?
Through URECA grants and other center activities, MTSU invests $120,000 in undergraduate research grants each year.
Research involving undergraduates is a logical investment for MTSU because it helps the university to:
- maintain strong ties with alumni and
- generate a workforce of accomplished and sought-after graduates
- build strong graduate programs
- provide the extra challenge and preparation for high-end students going to top-notch graduate schools
- attracting the 'best and brightest' to our campus
We consider undergraduate research to be a signature program at MTSU.
What is URECA?
Although the URC administers the university funds dedicated to undergraduate research, the Undergraduate Research Experience and Creative Activity Committee reviews the proposals. The committee is composed of accomplished and passionate faculty representatives from all 5 colleges at MTSU.
Why should an undergraduate student do research?
- Integrates coursework through 'hands-on' projects
- Creates independence
- Resume-builder - write a proposal, complete a project, report and orally present
- Great preparation for graduate school, where a main goal is a research project
- Develops 'soft skills' important for entering into and succeeding in the job market
- URECA grants allow students to build skills in their chosen fields without having to work an outside job.