Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Research Yields Life Findings

By pairing undergraduate students with faculty members to conduct innovative research projects, the growing Georgetown Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program aims to take students beyond textbook learning.

“Working in the lab helps me apply many of the techniques I learned in class,” Mathew Hoffmann (COL ’14), who is researching methanol fuel cells, said. “We’re working with alternative energy sources and breaking new ground. It’s very exciting to be a part of something so important and so new.”

The program, founded in 1966, helps professors to mentor students.

“The best thing about our program is the strong student-faculty relationships that develop,” GUROP Director Sonia Jacobson, who helped found the program, said. “Research often occurs over the course of more than one semester, which gives students an incredible opportunity to develop and learn through first-hand work.”

This semester, 170 students are conducting research through GUROP, which is now housed under the Georgetown Office of Fellowships, Awards and Research. About half of these undergraduates are biology, chemistry or physics majors, while the other half are social science majors.

For upperclassmen, involvement in GUROP also has practical benefits. Research experience is especially valuable in the current job market, according to Lauren Tuckley, the research resource coordinator in GOFAR

“It’s a vital asset to have research experience that supplements your coursework,” Tuckley said. “The skill set acquired from participating in scholarly research is invaluable in the marketplace.”

While GUROP provides valuable research experience for undergraduate students, both Jacobson and Tuckley believe that its full potential has not yet been realized. The pair is currently developing a new, searchable database that will streamline the application process.

GOFAR is also implementing a new outreach group, the Undergraduate Research Ambassadors, to stimulate interest in research and to increase the program’s visibility on campus.

“We are trying to get students to consider careers that they would not have considered otherwise,” Jacobson said. “Instead of moving on to the State Department or medical school, some students become convinced that pursuing a Ph.D and performing research is a more suitable career.”

Tyler White (COL ’14), a psychology major working in the Georgetown Autism and Communication Disorders Clinic, came to such a conclusion after conducting research through GUROP.

“For the past few months, as I have been reading through dozens of clinical reports, I’ve been paging through documents that profoundly reflect and affect people’s lives,” he said. “Playing a hand in the development of scientific knowledge is something I would love to spend the rest of my life doing.”

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