ICRU to merge with UI Office of the VP for Research, effective Feb. 1

The Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates will join the Office of the Vice President for Research in an effort to broaden the number of undergraduate students engaging in research.

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ICRU to merge with UI Office of the VP for Research, effective Feb. 1

An events board is seen at the Center for Research by Undergrads in the Blank Honors Center on Jan. 22.

An events board is seen at the Center for Research by Undergrads in the Blank Honors Center on Jan. 22.

Michael Guhin

An events board is seen at the Center for Research by Undergrads in the Blank Honors Center on Jan. 22.

Michael Guhin

Michael Guhin

An events board is seen at the Center for Research by Undergrads in the Blank Honors Center on Jan. 22.

Katie Ann McCarver, News Reporter

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Twelve years after its establishment, the Iowa Center for Research by Undergraduates is shifting to engage a broader scope of students in an effort to provide not only more opportunities but make the existing ones better.

Beginning Feb. 1, the undergraduate research center will integrate into the Office of the Vice President for Research, a partnership that both programs said will result in better consolidation of and more effective undergraduate research.

“The founding of [the undergraduate center] was driven by the [Research Office],” undergraduate center Director Bob Kirby said. “We’ve been associated over the last couple of years, and this will help build a focus on undergraduate research being part of the broader community, not just an educational experience.”

The undergrad center was originally a component of the Honors Program, Kirby said, and the change will be a better alignment for all undergraduate students interested in receiving funding for research and presenting it.

“From a student’s perspective, it’ll be much more cohesive,” Kirby said. “Something we’ve really focused on is making sure people understand the breadth of research across all disciplines.”

Nearly 30 percent of undergraduate students become involved with research at the university, he said, and coordination between the Research Office and the undergrad center and similar programs will support their success.

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In addition, Kirby said, there’s a unique opportunity for undergraduate students interested in research at the UI, because of the faculty support and upperclassman ambassadors.

“Research is one of the big impact factors that keeps students connected to campus, gets them engaged, and helps them with their skill development,” Research Office interim Vice President John Keller said. “There’s a lot of value added for undergraduates themselves.”

Keller said the integration of the undergrad center into the Research Office will help both institutions become much more coordinated and effective, both financially and academically.

“I think we’re addressing a lot of issues that are going to help make [the undergrad center] an integral part of the research operation,” he said. “Their work gets highlighted, they’re known on campus, students build their portfolios.”

Michael Guhin
A board and office are seen at the Center for Research by Undergrads in the Blank Honors Center on Jan. 22 (Michael Guhin/The Daily Iowan)

He noted that not only will the undergrad center benefit from the partnership, various other undergraduate programs for research also will. While this will not give the Research Office total oversight, Keller said, it will keep each group from duplicating efforts and will provide combined opportunities.

After requesting the undergrad center’s transfer from the Honors Program and talking to the Provost’s Office, Keller said, the UI administration granted approval for the Research Office for the upcoming change, which will include a new physical location for the undergrad center as well.

“I think that right now, because of its proximity to the Honors Program, there’s this false pretense that it’s associated with Honors only,” undergrad center Research Ambassador Mikaela Mallin said. “That’s totally false, and I think that’s going to become more transparent.”

Participating in genetic and developmental as well as dance-history research, Mallin emphasized the diversity of the topics of research available to undergrad center students and noted that it supports the transition into graduate school.

“[With] the diverse range of people involved, it can only benefit you,” Mallin said. “You’re able to participate in the scientific method in a way that hones your creative and critical thinking skills.”

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