WiSCUR: The Wisconsin Council on Undergraduate Research
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I would be attending a Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) Summit in Washington, D. C. to learn with individuals from several other State Systems and Consortia about how best to institutionalize undergraduate research. I, along with the representatives of the other UW System schools, was delighted to meet with individuals from campuses across the following Systems/Consortia: the California State University System, the City University of New York, the Council on Pubic Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), the Great Lakes Colleges Association (GLCA), as well as from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. As you can see, there were a variety of types of schools (large, small, public, private, etc.) that joined in the discussion about how to strategically foster undergraduate research on our campuses.
As a larger group, we became familiar with the characteristics and cultural aspects of the different Systems and Consortia, and had the opportunity to study the major trends in federal agency funding. We also heard from Myles Boylan, a Program Director at the National Science Foundation, about their perspective on undergraduate research experiences.
As the UW System group, we furthered our work on a number of different initiatives – here are a few examples:
1) Website and Communication: WiSCUR now has a website: https://plonedev.uwosh.edu/zmi43/WISURCouncil This website is still in development, but it no doubt will be a useful place to turn when you have questions or need ideas related to undergraduate research!
2) Data collection and analysis: WiSCUR is working to identify a subset of measures that should be easier to collect and collate from across UW System campuses regarding undergraduate research activity. This would be an excellent way to share data on who/what/where/how undergraduate research is happening across the UW System, but would also provide a way for individual faculty to measure the effectiveness, etc. of their offered undergraduate experiences.
3) Collaborations: Summer research exchanges will be piloted for UW-Whitewater and UW-Milwaukee this summer! There is also ongoing discussion to determine how best to inform individuals across the system about what great undergraduate research is already being done, in case there are obvious connections/collaborations that could emerge from this information. For example, I’m a language acquisition researcher here at UWGB – the only one! – but no doubt there are language acquisition researchers at other campuses who might enjoy a joint lab meeting via video conferencing. This would be a great way to introduce our students to research going on throughout the System and getting them exposure to faculty and students beyond UWGB.
4) Professional Development: Work is being done to draft materials to support professional development of undergraduate research mentors (faculty) with the hopes of increasing the number of faculty who engage in undergraduate research (by giving them resources to help them get started) and to improve the mentoring that is already happening on campus!
As you can see, there is a lot of work being done by WiSCUR and I’d be more than happy to share additional information with you about the group and/or help you get involved if you are interested in furthering undergraduate research on our campus and across the UW System!
Director of CATL