UNH Offers Students Valuable Research Opportunities

Steven Kaplan

Students often ask me for suggestions on how they can make themselves more competitive when applying for a job or graduate school. One of

President of the University of New Haven, Steven Kaplan

the best ways, I tell them, is to get involved in an undergraduate research project. Whether you are an arts major or studying chemical engineering, conducting research with a faculty mentor shows initiative and can provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate an ability to grapple with complex issues in a collaborative and creative process; these are traits that employers and graduate school admissions officers like to see in a candidate.

Experiential learning is an institutional hallmark at UNH, and there is no better way of understanding a complex subject than to become immersed in research. By undertaking a serious, significant inquiry or investigation, you can make an original, creative contribution to a branch of learning. This can include scientific, scholarly, or artistic activities.

Students can conduct research with a faculty mentor or on their own through independent-study courses, laboratory research, and/or a thesis. Undergraduates often work closely with faculty in small research teams and present research projects at scientific meetings both on and off campus. A number of students have had their research published in scholarly publications.

Students also can apply to take part in UNH’s prestigious SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship). Since it was established in 2007, more than 65 students have participated in the SURF program. Past SURF projects explored “green” business practices among top hotels, a study of whether a victim’s race affects homicide investigative outcomes, and an exploration of the relationship between economics and human trafficking. This summer, SURF students conducted research on the music industry, Lyme disease, and salt marshes.

Becoming involved in an undergraduate research project allows students and faculty a chance to work together outside of the classroom and to collaborate in areas of research that can benefit humankind. Examples of faculty-mentored student research include studying the impact of the chemical nanoparticles that find their way from area homes into Long Island Sound, designing and building a high-mileage vehicle that achieves 500+ miles per gallon, analyzing open-source data to help track terrorist organizations around the globe, and studying algae from Long Island Sound as a possible biofuel resource.

UNH is committed to providing hands-on, experiential learning to prepare students for rewarding careers in their chosen fields. Consequently, the University’s reputation as an institution where a world-class education features “real world” learning opportunities continues to expand nationally and internationally.