Researchers Initiative Program

The Researchers Initiative (RI) pairs students in Global Crossroads, Health Professions, Intersections, and Women in Math, Science, and Engineering Living-Learning Communities with faculty mentors to work on various aspects of research. Students apply in fall and work in spring.

What is the Researchers Initiative? 

Established in 2007, the Researchers Initiative (RI) introduces undergraduate students residing in the four Urbana South living-learning communities to research by pairing them with faculty mentors. Living-learning communities are organized around themes and provide curricular and co-curricular programming for a designated group of students living in proximity to each other. Such communities are designed to foster students’ shared sense of purpose related to the themes of their communities, which, in turn, sustains their sense of belonging and academic persistence. The Researchers Initiative extends the notion of community to include a community of researchers. 

Who can participate? 

  • For 2018–2019, the Researchers Initiative is open to all students living in the Florida Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue Residence Halls. This includes students in the Urbana South living-learning communities: Global Crossroads, Health Professions, Intersections, and Women in Math, Science & Engineering (WIMSE). 
  • Any faculty member of the University who can supervise undergraduate students in research endeavors may participate as a faculty mentor.

Download this year's newsletter for more information about how students and faculty are matched, compensation, participation expectations, benefits of participation for students and faculty, and projects from last academic year. 

What are the goals? 

When students are accepted into the Initiative, they work with faculty members on various projects broadly related to the theme of their specific living-learning community or to their majors. Faculty members mentor students, act as role models, prepare them for graduate school, teach them technical skills, and help them develop theoretical frameworks to create research questions and to interpret data. They also acquaint students with the process of research as a whole. The ideal is for students to continue working in the faculty members’ labs beyond the one semester afforded by the Initiative. 
The Researchers Initiative is guided by the principle of providing information and access to research opportunities for a diverse student body. In addition to introducing undergraduate students to research, the Initiative facilitates access to faculty members early in their college career. It is also designed as a retention tool, as sophomores are given priority. Finally, the Initiative can serve to deepen the students’ involvement in their own disciplines or expose them to research topics and practices outside of their disciplines. 

How can I apply?

The student application form is available between October 17–31. Students rank and provide explanations as to why they wish to work with particular faculty members.

Students should review faculty research projects BEFORE they complete the application. Download a list of projects in PDF or Excel.