Deadline for undergraduate research program approaches


Dr. Bernhard Vogler

Undergraduate students at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) have until Jan. 31 to apply for the 12th annual Expanding Horizons through Research Program, A Research or Creative Experience for Undergraduates (RCEU) summer program.

The RCEU program supports research and creative work experiences for undergraduate students in all fields of study with the goal of fostering cooperation between students and researchers and exposing the student to academic scholarly work via active participation in a research, creative or scholarly project. The program strives to assist in furthering UAH's research activities by helping to provide opportunities for new and ongoing areas of study and creative work.

Students undertake activities within a research or creative work project typically lasting for 10 to 12 weeks in the summer, under the direct supervision of a UAH full-time faculty member or researcher. The work hours correspond to a full-time job (approximately 32-40 hours per week), and the student receives a stipend of $3,200.

RCEU mentor Dr. Pam O'Neal, associate professor of nursing, has seen the benefits of the program.

"The summer grant made it possible for an undergraduate nursing student to be involved in clinical research at an area hospital as well as spend time in a laboratory," she says. "The benefits are tremendous to students and faculty."

To participate in the program, students must be enrolled as a degree-seeking UAH undergraduate student and not be graduating before fall 2015. To apply, students should go to the program website at, where they can view descriptions of the projects by college, research center or faculty/research staff sponsor.

If a student meets any requirements given, and is interested in the project, they can apply via the online application. Students can apply to multiple projects, but can only be selected for one. The project sponsor will then select the student they would like to work with from the applicants and submit their project proposal to the Faculty Senate Finance and Resources Committee for the final selection for funding.

This year it is anticipated that 25-30 proposals will be funded. The committee strives to provide an equitable distribution of awards between research centers, colleges and departments.

"The RCEU program is an amazing program for undergraduate students," says UAH junior Chelsea Powers, a biology and chemistry double major. "I would recommend this program to any undergraduate student interested in working on a field-related project before they graduate."

RCEU can play a continuing role in a student's development, as well.

"Not only did the RCEU program make these publishing opportunities possible, my RCEU project will play a large role in my application to the National Science Foundation's Research Fellowship for Graduate Students," says UAH senior Christopher Phillips, an Earth system science and physics double major. "So the program is also playing a role in my funding for graduate school."

Mandatory workshops will be offered on research ethics, proposal writing, presentation skills and preparing for graduate school, so that students can get the full benefit of their experience and leverage what they take away to propel their careers forward.

At the end of the program, students are expected to present a written report on their research experience and to present their work at the RCEU showcase event in the fall, the UAH Research Horizons Day in the spring and other public and professional forums.

The program is funded through the UAH Office of the President, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development, and the Alabama Space Grant Consortium. The RCEU program is coordinated by Dr. Bernhard Vogler.