Students share research experiences

Collaborative event promotes student access to research opportunities, service, community engagement


Students and faculty from around the University came together Tuesday afternoon for the Research in Action forum to discuss experiences in service-based undergraduate research, as well as future research opportunities.

“What we decided to do is sort of pool our resources and have one event where a student who is interested in academic community engagement and community-based research and service learning … could come and learn about all of the different opportunities from the students who have been successful at those opportunities,” said Julie Caruccio, associate dean of students and director of Student Affairs Community Engagement.

Participants were encouraged to share how they conducted research that doubled as service projects, both locally and globally.

“We’re all trying to get students interested in research … that will impact communities,” said Rebecca Dillingham, the director of the Center for Global Health and another one of the event’s organizers.

During the first hour of the event, students participated in facilitated roundtable discussions focused on sharing personal research experience. Brian Cullaty, the director of undergraduate research opportunities at the Center for Undergraduate Excellence, said event organizers hoped to foster collaboration among students through the discussion.

“We want to learn from each other: what worked, what didn’t work,” he said. “I think what’s neat about this collaboration is you have people coming from maybe different groups or different programs that they’re involved with, but sometimes they’re working on the same topic.”

In the field, the students’ projects were equally diverse. One student described working with a chocolate factory in Nicaragua as an engineer and finding that the facility was in great need of business and marketing assistance. Another described the systems for prenatal health care in Nicaragua and southwest Virginia and the challenges inherent in each region.

“You don’t want to make them feel like ‘everything you’re doing is wrong’ and fix it,” said Amanda Halacy, a first-year College student with service experience in Southeast Asia and an interest in JPC projects.

The event was a joint venture between the Center for Undergraduate Excellence, the Center for Global Health and the Jefferson Public Citizens program.

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