UCARE supports opportunities for undergraduates—working under the direction of faculty— to participate in UNL research or creative activities. Through UCARE, undergraduate researchers are introduced to the research process. As emerging scholars at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, undergraduates have the opportunity to learn how to be effective researchers.

Undergraduate researchers may apply for a Summer Award or an Academic Year Award. Students who have already received a UCARE award must re-apply for funding by completing a full application, including a research abstract. Awards are competitively reviewed and funded each year and are not automatically renewed.

Award Period Summer Academic Year
Timeframe June 1 - August 15 September - April
Average Hours/Week 20 10

As a faculty advisor, you’ll work with your undergraduate researcher to determine a research schedule and define expectations through the development of benchmarks.

The undergraduate research assistant may interact with you or a designee (i.e., postdoc or graduate student) on an existing or ongoing research project, assuming a small portion of that project; conduct a secondary analysis of a research dataset that has been previously collected; or develop an individual research project that is of special interest to the student. As a faculty advisor, you may advise one or two individual students, or you may have your students submit a team proposal.

Eligibility

Undergraduate researchers may work with any full-time faculty at UNL. UNL undergraduate students who have completed their freshman year can formally participate in faculty research as an undergraduate research assistant.

UCARE will provide funding for one or two undergraduate research assistants (the award will no longer be split between two participants), or sponsor a group of up to three undergraduate research assistants working on the same project. Participants may have multiple advisors, but there will be one primary faculty advisor for the project who signs the Undergraduate Research Agreement and confirms the payment to the undergraduate research assistant.

Application

Individual undergraduate researchers will have primary responsibility for writing the UCARE research abstract. The abstract should provide an overview of the research project and outline your expectations for completing the research experience. As the undergraduate researcher’s advisor, you’ll help consider the length of the research project and the amount of time that the student will dedicate to various tasks. You’ll be able to discuss deadlines and expectations of the undergraduate researcher through the Benchmarks and before you sign the Undergraduate Research Agreement.

Team Proposals: Faculty may choose to advise 2-3 undergraduate researchers as part of a research team. Research teams provide undergraduates a unique opportunity to collaborate with other undergraduate students on a specific project.

Identifying an Undergraduate Researcher

UCARE undergraduate researchers are responsible for finding a faculty advisor to guide and oversee their research project. To help undergraduates learn about research opportunities, UCARE maintains a list of opportunities.

You can post opportunities for a UCARE, volunteer, or paid undergraduate researcher. We encourage you to look for interest among students you’ve taught or are currently teaching. Undergraduate researchers may participate in an independent project or on a small part of a larger project you are working on.

Benchmarks

Together with the undergraduate researcher, discuss benchmarks for assessing research progress. These benchmarks are included in the application and outline specific steps/stages and provide a timeline. The undergraduate research assistant is responsible for transferring these benchmarks to the Undergraduate Research Agreement. When research begins, the Agreement will help you determine whether the undergraduate researcher is on track. When changes to the project occur, the UCARE researcher is responsible for updating the Agreement and procuring signatures.

Benchmarks might include:

  • Attend UCARE Kick-off
  • Complete a review of literature
  • Submit weekly progress reports (oral or written)
  • Training in specific software program
  • Data entry/coding
  • Submit weekly/bi-weekly lab reports
  • Develop/present poster at Undergraduate Research Conference (or regional/national disciplinary conference
  • Deliver oral presentation (department, regional, or national conference)
  • Exhibit creative works
  • Submit research paper/final project report

Enrollment Process

After the undergraduate researchers are selected, digital acceptance letters will be sent out by UCARE. The undergraduate researcher will complete and submit the Undergraduate Research Agreement with the benchmarks outlined in the proposal to UCARE. The faculty advisor, undergraduate researcher, and any designees the undergraduate will interact with should all keep copies of the Undergraduate Research Agreement.

The enrollment process will begin when digital signatures from both you and the undergraduate are secured and filed with both UCARE and the departmental financial contact.

Faculty Responsibilities

As a faculty member advising UCARE researchers, we ask that you:

  • Maintain presence on campus or in the field while your UCARE researchers are working on their research
  • Provide timely feedback to UCARE and the undergraduate researchers concerning their progress;
  • Help your student complete the research benchmarks from the Undergraduate Research Agreement;
  • Encourage the undergraduate researchers to participate in UCARE sponsored events;
  • Encourage undergraduate researchers to present research at conferences; and
  • Assist your UCARE undergraduate researchers with their poster for the Undergraduate Research Conference.

Faculty mentors play a vital role in the undergraduate research experience. They provide guidance and inspiration to researchers, while nurturing the development of critical thinking skills and increased self-confidence. Learn more about best practices in mentoring.

Departmental Financial Contact

The departmental financial contact files paperwork for the UCARE undergraduate researcher. Listed here is the contact information for your department.