Campus News

Undergraduate researchers reap benefits of CURO apprentice program

Andrew Durso

Every Monday afternoon, a group of UGA freshmen and sophomores gathers to discuss the latest trends in research pedagogy or listen to guest lecturers discuss their academic interests.

These seminars are part of the support network that the Honors Program’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities provides participants in its Apprentice Program.

The 30 undergraduates, paired with faculty research mentors from various disciplines, spend 10-12 hours a week on individual research projects.

The seminars give the students an opportunity to build their own community of scholars as they compare notes about each other’s experiences, learn research techniques and trends, and improve their writing and critical thinking skills.

“The Apprentice Program, having originated in the physics department to engage first- and second-year students from underrepresented groups in research in the sciences, has blossomed beyond our dreams within Honors,” said Pamela Kleiber, associate director of the Honors Program. “The strength and talents of our youngest students combined with the opportunities provided by faculty in all disciplines is unparalleled at research universities.”

First-year student Francisco Marrero, a chemistry and economics double major, said one of his favorite seminars included a discussion facilitated by evolutionary biologists Wyatt Anderson and Michael Arnold about the co-existence of religion and science.

“I enjoyed having such a sensitive subject discussed in an informal way,” said Marrero, who is working on microfluidics research with engineering professor Leidong Mao. “No one felt the need to argue-rather they offered their opinions, while others listened and digested the ideas of their fellow scholars.”

The apprentices receive additional encouragement and guidance from their teaching assistants, three previous apprentices who lead small group discussions and talk about their own experiences with the program.