New program opens doors for freshmen and sophomore research opportunities with faculty
Radford University will introduce in the fall 2018 semester the Highlander Research Rookies Program, an initiative designed to provide select freshmen and sophomores an opportunity to collaborate on research projects with the university’s faculty.
In the program’s inaugural year, fifteen apprenticeships will be awarded to high-achieving and highly-motivated students, who then will be paired with a faculty mentor and begin research projects starting with the 2018-19 academic year.
Funding of up to $4,000 will be provided to each awardee for a full year on a project.
Radford University President Brian O. Hemphill first announced the program at his inaugural State of the University address in October and said the program will maximize “opportunities for research-based engagement and learning.”
Students will be selected during the Spring 2018 semester through a competitive process that includes an application and a personal statement.
Applications will be accepted in January and interviews are scheduled for early spring. A cohort of 15 will be selected in April, said Joe Wirgau, the director of Radford University’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS), who is assisting in the development of the Highlander Rookie Researchers Program.
“We are expanding on a strength of the university. Our faculty work really well one-on-one on projects with students, but primarily that happens with seniors and some juniors,” Wirgau explained. “If we can expand that to include freshmen and sophomores, it’s going to have a cultural change that will positively impact the university.”
Once students are selected and determine a field of interest, they will be paired with a faculty mentor. Faculty who work in the program will receive on average $2,000 in stipend, supplies and other materials needed to aid students in their project.
The program will build on the success of OURS’ Accelerated Research Opportunities living learning community, which provides students with opportunities to engage in research with faculty mentors. Over the past three years, more than 80 faculty have worked with this program helping freshmen-level students conduct research, said Assistant Provost for Academic Programs Jeanne Mekolichick, who also is assisting in the Highlanders Rookies Research Program development.
“As students express an interest in a particular field and project, we will coordinate to match them with faculty,” Mekolichick said. “And already we have this wonderful cadre of faculty who have worked with students at that level.”
The new program will offer project opportunities in the university’s many disciplines.
“We have projects looking at creating better public policies, helping the effectiveness of policing, keeping students in school, having safer cyber data, sustainable design and so many others,” Wirgau said.
“Students get to work with faculty and get to start on Day 1,” Wirgau continued. “This gives them their entire time at Radford University to work on projects that matter. These are projects that will impact the students working on them, and impact the university and society.”
To learn more about the Highlanders Rookies Research Program, contact Wirgau at firstname.lastname@example.org.