Blue Raider students arrive to campus bursting with a variety of questions they want to investigate and passions they wish to pursue, both inside the traditional classroom and out.
Thanks to the Undergraduate Research Center’s Undergraduate Research Experience and Creative Activity, or URECA, grant, many students have turned their passions into projects with funding from the university and support from a faculty mentor.
Take MTSU English major and senior Charlotte Daigle, who wanted to publish her collection of short stories but struggled with the editing and rewriting process.
“Many of my stories are sitting unpublished in notebooks waiting for the day I stop editing,” Daigle said.
Now Daigle’s short story project is her third funded URECA project, and she has even been inspired to present her work outside of campus events.
“Had I not completed these URECA’s and received the support I have from the URC, I would not have had the confidence in myself to send in my proposals to these conferences,” she said.
Daigle said the Undergraduate Research Center, or URC, welcomes students from all backgrounds and degrees to apply for a URECA grant — grants are not limited to the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
“I was hesitant at first,” Daigle said about her short story project. “How could I stand out amongst so many STEM researchers who are doing more important things than I am? It’s always the first step off the edge that is the hardest.”
Dance major and senior Avery Biddle wanted to further her dance expertise at workshops in New York City. “I plan to dance professionally and eventually join a dance company,” Biddle said.
The grant funded Biddle’s travel to New York City and attendance of two dance training festivals this summer.
“I was able to see 22 performances and take six weeks of intensive dance training,” Biddle said.
Biology student and senior Dalton Lewis wanted to learn more about the impacts of microplastics in food on the environment.
“Research will help me better understand the effects people have on the environment and how it affects the food that people and wildlife consume,” Dalton said.
Lewis said his experience with the URECA grant and SOAR helped him get a job in a lab, which will help him with his career aspirations.
“I hope to work in a (lab) environment and am currently applying to be an environmental scientist,” he said.
Interested students can see what research and creative activity their peers have produced at the URC’s multiple student showcase events, the next of which is the Fall Undergraduate Research Open House Thursday, Nov. 3, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Science Building mezzanine.
Undergraduates can also get involved by joining the Student Organization for the Advancement of Research, or SOAR, which hosts research skill-building workshops, lunch-and-learns and helps put on the URC’s events.
Biddle, Daigle and Lewis will present their projects at Thursday’s open house event.
To learn more about the Undergraduate Research Center and all it has to offer, visit the website at https://www.mtsu.edu/urc/index.php.
— Stephanie Wagner (Stephanie.Wagner@mtsu.edu)