WSU's Commitment to Undergraduate Research Leads to National OpportunityOGDEN, Utah – Weber State University's growing commitment to undergraduate research has resulted in two faculty members being elected to serve on a national advisory board.
The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), based in Washington, D.C., has announced that WSU associate zoology professor John Cavitt and associate psychology professor Lauren Fowler have been elected national councilors for biology and psychology respectively. Both will serve three-year terms. As national councilors, Cavitt and Fowler will have input on the group's initiatives and direction, and share their expertise in creating a university undergraduate research program with other universities in the country. In return, the experience will help them discover ways to strengthen WSU's undergraduate research programs.
Both WSU professors encourage students to pursue learning opportunities in their fields of study outside the classroom. Fowler has had students conduct studies on the relationship between gender and memory, and the physiological impact of employees working rotating shifts. Cavitt's students have studied the breeding habits of shorebirds along the Great Salt Lake and worked with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to analyze diseases in the state's moose population.
"Experiences like these on a student's resume impress both potential employers and graduate school admissions officers," Cavitt said. "It demonstrates a commitment to learning that extends beyond memorizing facts and theories from a textbook. These students have taken concepts they've learned and applied them to real life issues, helping them think critically and develop problem solving skills."
Promoting faculty-student projects isn't new to Cavitt. He co-chairs WSU's task force on undergraduate research, which works to support and encourage faculty-student collaborations across the campus.
"The oldest form of learning is the mentor-protege model," Cavitt said. "We use it for doctors, plumbers, electricians, and even college professors. Undergraduate research offers that same learning opportunity to our students."
On March 29, WSU will host its first undergraduate research symposium where students will share their discoveries and experiences with the campus and community. The task force envisions the symposium will become an annual event at WSU.
CUR and its affiliated colleges, universities, and individuals work to provide undergraduate learning opportunities for faculty and students at predominantly undergraduate institutions. The Council, founded in 1978, is a national organization representing more than 870 colleges and universities. Its mission is to support and promote high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaboration and scholarship.
Kathleen Lukken, interim provost
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John Cavitt, associate zoology professor
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Lauren Fowler, associate psychology professor
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