The Undergraduate Research Fellowship, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research, has long been a valuable tool for undergraduate students in all disciplines across campus for developing original research ideas and projects. Here's an exciting story of one undergraduate who used URF funds to create research and, in the process, helped shape a new generation of future researchers.
Video 1: Getting Involved
Video 2: Profile of a Project
Video 3: The College Experience and Beyond
Chemistry major Simone Lumsden received a URF in the spring semester of 2013 for her project, Using crown complexes of alkali metal ions as counterions to modulate the coordination chemistry of first row transition metals with chalcogenide cyanates (SCN, SeCN, TeCN). Her goal was to determine if it was possible to manipulate cheaper first row metals into replicating properties of precious, expensive metals so that they could be used as cheaper substitutes to act as catalytic centers for electron transfer. For Lumsden, the project "would be the key point in allowing me to pursue undergraduate research in a true research environment."
The result of her project was the publication of a paper on which Lumsden is credited as first author, an outstanding achievement for an undergraduate student (read the paper). Prof. Michael Rose, Lumsden's project supervisor, writes to the Office of the Vice President for Research, "Thank you for your support of Undergraduate Research! This is a fantastic program, and I think made a huge difference for Simone's contribution to my research group."
After assisting Dr. Regina Mangieri with a postdoctoral project in the laboratory of Dr. Rueben Gonzales (published here), Biochemistry major Roberto Cofresi (pictured left, with Dr. Mangieri) was motivated to follow up on a promising pilot experiment, and the URF allowed him to do so by paying for his research subjects. From proposing the experiment to preparing the manuscript for publication (here), the experience of having an independent, personal project as an undergraduate, he tells us, helped him decide in favor of further scientific training, which he has chosen to undertake here at UT Austin as a graduate student in the Institute for Neuroscience.