Dean's Undergraduate Research Initiative (DURI)

Dean’s Undergraduate Research Initiative (DURI) aims to broaden the undergraduate student research experience and provide opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to develop skills in mentoring at the VCU School of Engineering under the leadership of our faculty. DURI invites undergraduate engineering students to apply for a one year fellowship, which will begin in the spring of 2017. DURI fellows will receive course credit for their spring semester research commitment (10-12 hours/week) and they will be expected to work full time during the summer semester (i.e., 40 hours/week) for which they will receive a $2,500 stipend. The one-year program will continue into the fall semester, and the stipend will be $1,500.

This fellowship is open to full time VCU undergraduates in their junior and senior year, receiving a Bachelor's degree in or after December 2017 or later from the School of Engineering. DURI fellows will be selected based on their GPA, resume, and interest in research as evidenced by two letters of recommendation from School of Engineering faculty and a personal statement. Applications for 2017 fellowships are due November 1, 2016.

DURI Information

Why pursue undergraduate research?
Research is creating new knowledge. It is the catalyst of innovation and will forever remain a great adventure. Research provides opportunities to develop close relationships among undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty that have positive effects on student learning and retention, and improve the quality of the overall educational experience here at VCU.

Why pursue research through DURI?
DURI aims to broaden the undergraduate student experience and provide opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to develop skills in mentoring at the VCU School of Engineering under the leadership of our faculty. Research through DURI is progressive and sustained. These challenging endeavors for budding researchers demand a sense of commitment, require considerable time and effort, spark critical thinking and creativity, provide learning opportunities outside the classroom, and promote teamwork skills, all transferable to many real world problems. The research and mentoring experiences gained through DURI will be transformative for faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral trainees and undergraduate students alike.

Description of the DURI program
The goal of the DURI program is to give undergraduates an extended research experience resulting in sufficient data to support a presentation at a national or an international conference. At the same time, the program provides graduate students and postdoctoral fellows the opportunity to develop critical skills in proposal writing and mentoring students; skills that will benefit them in their future careers, whether in academia or industry. Therefore, the program requires the participation of the undergraduate research fellows, their research mentors, and the faculty mentor in whose lab they will work.

DURI Fellows
DURI invites undergraduate engineering students to apply for a one year fellowship, which will begin in the spring of 2017. DURI fellows will receive course credit for their spring semester research commitment (10-12 hours/week) and they will be expected to work full time during the summer semester (i.e., 40 hours/week) for which they will receive a $2,500 stipend. The one-year program will continue into the fall semester, and the stipend will be $1,500. During the fall semester, the student will be expected to complete his/her research, prepare an abstract, data summary and conclusions drawn from the work and present them at a poster competition at the end of the semester. $500 will be available to support travel for the DURI fellow to a scientific conference in the spring (to be determined by the faculty mentor).

DURI fellows will be selected based on their GPA, resume, and interest in research as evidenced by two letters of recommendation from School of Engineering faculty and a personal statement. The application should contain a university transcript, a one page resume, and a one page personal statement (single spaced with 1” margins and Arial font size 11). Up to 10 students will be selected by a review committee with representation from all departments in the School of Engineering. Fellows will then interview with potential mentors (described below), and following the interviews, fellows and mentors will be matched. Applications for 2017 fellowships are due November 1, 2016.

DURI Research Mentors
School of Engineering graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and newly appointed assistant professors will serve as research mentors for the DURI fellows. Research mentors will design and submit an appropriate research project proposal for the undergraduate student. Proposals should not exceed two single spaced type-written pages (1” margins, Arial font size 11) and should state the overall goal of the study, hypothesis to be tested (where appropriate), specific aims, significance and a brief background, and methods to be used. References may be provided on an additional page. The proposal must also contain a letter from the faculty mentor confirming his/her willingness to provide support for the project, including any supplies needed. The research mentor’s biosketch in either the NSF or NIH format should accompany the proposal. The selection committee will review the proposals and identify up to 10 research projects for potential match to DURI fellows. Each research mentor will receive $500 support to attend a scientific conference determined by the faculty mentor.

Eligibility
This fellowship is open to full time VCU undergraduates in their sophomore and junior year, receiving a Bachelors degree in or after December 2017 from the School of Engineering. This is a one year commitment to research that begins in January, 2017 and extends through December 2017.  Students can still use their travel funds in spring 2017, if they have not graduated by that time or if they remain at VCU as a post-graduate student. Students currently enrolled in other departments outside the School of Engineering are not eligible for this program.

Application
All completed applications are due November 1, 2016.