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UW-Eau Claire to host Sept. 23-25 UW System undergraduate research discussion

RELEASED: Sept. 21, 2011

EAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will host representatives from each of the 13 UW System universities Sept. 23-25 for a workshop focused on setting goals to improve the quality of undergraduate research.

The workshop is funded by an award from the Council on Undergraduate Research. The UW System is one of only three university systems in the nation to receive a CUR award to participate in a workshop program for institutionalizing undergraduate research in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. The CUR workshop program is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation's "Course Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement" program.

Workshop participants will identify common undergraduate research challenges and opportunities among UW System campuses and develop a coordinated plan to embed and sustain undergraduate research as a central pedagogical and scholarly endeavor within the system, said Dr. Karen Havholm, UW-Eau Claire's assistant vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs.

UW-Eau Claire's team includes the following administrators and faculty from diverse STEM areas: Dr. David Lonzarich, professor of biology; Dr. Jessica Kraker, assistant professor of mathematics; Dr. Sanchita Hati, associate professor of chemistry; Dr. April Bleske-Rechek, associate professor of psychology; and Havholm.

"UW-Eau Claire has a dynamic undergraduate research program that engages more than 800 students each year," Havholm said. "Undergraduates work collaboratively with faculty on original research, scholarship and creative activities in disciplines ranging from sciences to business to the arts."

After the workshop Lonzarich will help advance undergraduate research across campus and across academic disciplines, part of his role as a 2011-12 Faculty Fellow in UW-Eau Claire's Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

"The UW-Eau Claire culture places great value on the teacher/scholar model," Lonzarich said. "Our focus is on students and what research can teach them."

Each year more than 300 UW-Eau Claire faculty members mentor students in a variety of academic disciplines.

"UW-Eau Claire's mission includes providing exemplary faculty/student research and scholarship that enhance teaching and learning," said Dr. Patricia A. Kleine, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. "As such, this CUR program represents a systematic continuation of our commitment to rigorous, intentional and experiential liberal education."

The current state of undergraduate research in the UW System is as diverse as the 13 four-year campuses themselves, Havholm said, noting that although each campus has a unique undergraduate research environment, each shares a common goal for the future: to promote and advance undergraduate research as a high-impact learning practice.

"We see this as an opportunity to enhance the academic experience for thousands of students, and we know undergraduate research can also lead to innovation, discovery and economic development and job creation," Nancy Hensel, executive officer of CUR, said in an earlier CUR press release.

Ultimately, the UW System's efforts to improve the quality of undergraduate research will help ensure that students are prepared with the integrative learning skills, multicultural competencies and practical knowledge needed to succeed in and contribute to a rapidly changing, increasingly global society, Havholm said.

For more information, contact Dr. Karen Havholm at havholkg@uwec.edu or 715-836-3405.

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HJS/JP/DW

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