By Michelle Mielke Walsh
At UC Berkeley, groundbreaking research happens every day — and the university goes out of the way to include our remarkable undergraduate students in these efforts.
The Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarships (OURS) is Berkeley’s hub for undergraduate research and prestigious scholarships. Established in 1997, OURS integrates undergraduates into the university’s dynamic and diverse research life, and provides a wide range of programs, workshops, and partnerships to help students expand their academic experience.
During Golden Bear Orientation, OURS provides new students with an overview of the range of available opportunities and spells out advantages of engaging in research as an undergraduate: participating in the creation of new knowledge, developing life-changing relationships and mentorships, growing in confidence to question things, and tackling important social questions. Throughout the year, OURS workshops help students plug in to campus resources, as well as secure faculty support and mentorship. Students can join the OURS listserv to be informed of workshops, events, and updates.
Students may also meet with peer advisers who hold drop-in office hours in Dwinelle Hall to receive practical coaching for mapping a path toward their research and academic goals. Sean Burns, director of OURS, says, “UC Berkeley is placing an increasing priority on providing substantial experiential learning opportunities to all its students. The evidence is clear about how transformative these experiences are, and it is especially important to us to reduce any barriers that face students – especially first generation and underrepresented students – to participating in research and other experiential learning.”
One OURS program utilized by students from all fields of study is the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (URAP). Working closely with faculty, URAP students deepen their knowledge and skills in areas of special interest, while experiencing what it means to be part of an intellectual community engaged in research.
New research opportunities open at the start of each semester and information sessions about applying to URAP are held during the first week of instruction. Student applications are due in the second week of classes each term. In the 2017-18 academic year, 2,250 students participated in URAP.
Supporting undergraduate research at UC Berkeley
Berkeley consistently ranks among the five top research universities in the world, and stands out for its breadth of academic and faculty excellence. More than half of undergraduate students participate in some form of research, through which they hone their capacity to discover, innovate, and collaborate.
Donors to the Cal Parents Fund (more than 3,000 last year!) directly support the student research experience at Berkeley, letting students like physics major Dalila Robledo spend her summer researching anti-matter in Switzerland or linguistics major Cecelia Dimino study lost languages in the Peruvian Amazon.
Giving to the Cal Parents Fund (or Cal Fund) is a high impact way to support your student’s education and the experience of all students at Berkeley. Each year, the collective support of the Berkeley community provides immediate resources to meet the most pressing needs, ensuring that Berkeley remains the top public teaching and research university in the world.