UCOP NewsRoom

Thursday, May 20, 1999
Chuck McFadden (510) 987-9193


Undergraduate students at the University of California have an ever-widening network of opportunities to participate in organized research, and thousands of them are taking advantage of those opportunities, says a report presented today (Thursday, May 20) to the Board of Regents.

Research opportunities for undergraduates at the eight undergraduate UC campuses range from special conferences where students share their research results, to awards for outstanding undergraduate research, to journals created specifically for undergraduates to highlight their research.

UC Irvine undergraduates, for example, have performed research on topics such as a person's weight as a predictor of oral cancer development and progression, California's three-strikes law, reuse of water as a solution to water shortages, robots used in physical rehabilitation, photodynamic cancer treatment, the evolution of the Guatemalan army, and gaming and suicide.

"The scope of research being done by our undergraduate students is truly amazing," said UC President Richard C. Atkinson. "As an institution with unparalleled research capabilities, the University of California is committed to bringing those resources into the classroom to enhance

undergraduate education. The evidence in this report shows the campuses are doing an excellent job of integrating research with undergraduate education - to the advantage of our students."

In 1997-98, a survey showed that at least 2,000 undergraduates systemwide participated in research through Organized Research Units (ORUs) or Multicampus Research Units (MRUs), the report said. Since these organizations represent only a small fraction of UC's total research, the number of undergraduates participating in research throughout the university is, in fact, much higher.

The report said the Santa Cruz and Riverside campuses are the most innovative users of the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates program (REU), capturing more than half of the nearly 30 REU grants awarded to the University of California.

Undergraduate research at UC Riverside has included one student who worked with botany Professor Arturo Gomez-Pompa in the El Eden Research Station in Mexico, measuring the stem water of trees of varying ages to determine whether mature forest trees put out roots deep enough to reach groundwater to tide them over during the dry season.

At UC Santa Cruz, undergraduate research has included students working in the microelectronics laboratory of the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics. Their projects are related to NASA's Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope and the ATLAS detector being built at the European Particle Physics Laboratory (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland.

However, all eight undergraduate campuses have active programs involving increasingly more frequent undergraduate research opportunities.

UC Santa Barbara estimates that one out of every five of its upper-division undergraduates participated in research-related activities in 1997-98.

The report was prepared by the office of Robert N. Shelton, systemwide vice provost for research. It was presented today to the Regents' Committee on Educational Policy.

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