Elon University honored with Campus-wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments

The university was one of three recognized by The Council on Undergraduate Research with this prestigious award for providing high-quality research experiences for undergraduates.

Elon University has been recognized by The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) with the 2021 Campus-wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments (AURA) for providing its students with high-quality research experiences.

Elon was one of only three nationally to receive the award this year. A celebration of Elon and fellow award winners Mercer University and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse will be held during the national Undergraduate Research Week on Thursday, April 21.

“The 2021 AURA recipients reflect more than exemplary undergraduate research programs,” said Lindsay Currie, CUR’s executive officer. “They demonstrate a dedication to the varying participation of students and disciplines, curriculum-based experiences, and opportunities for student-faculty recognition that even amongst this challenging and ever-changing world, these universities exemplified steadfast commitment.”

Now in its seventh year, the AURA award draws on CUR’s Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research, which outlines criteria for exceptional undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity programs. For AURA recognition, campuses must demonstrate depth and breadth in their undergraduate research initiatives and evidence of continual innovation. Institutions of different Carnegie classifications are considered for the award.

Victoria Gorman ’22 works with her mentor, Professor of Chemistry Karl Sienerth, in McMichael. She participated in the 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE), and her project is titled “Using Surfactants to Eliminate Hazardous Conditions for Calcein Blue Luminescence Quenching by Explosives.”

“This honor recognizes and reinforces the power of undergraduate research at Elon University, which is rooted in mentorship, discovery and personal achievement,” President Connie Ledoux Book said. “Countless Elon students have benefited from the rich relationships developed working side-by-side with their mentors in the lab, out in the field and in the classroom. Undergraduate research continues to grow and flourish at Elon, and we’re grateful for this meaningful recognition of its important place within our university.”

Elon University, ranked among the top 100 National Universities by U.S. News & World Report, has built a sustainable model that expands participation and diversity in undergraduate research conducted outside of classes. Twenty-two percent of undergraduate students and more than 54 percent of undergraduate faculty engage in undergraduate research currently.

“We are thrilled that Elon’s Undergraduate Research Program has been recognized with an AURA,” said Meredith Allison, director of undergraduate research at Elon and professor of psychology. “This award reflects the sustained effort and investment by faculty mentors and students from all departments, as well as the university’s long institutional commitment to undergraduate research and engaged learning.”

More than 200 students typically present the fruits of their research at SURF, the annual Spring Undergraduate Research Forum, in poster sessions and oral presentations and symposia.

Elon’s Research for Credit program demonstrates the importance of enhancing equity and inclusion in a sound undergraduate research program, but also the in-depth participation by faculty, students, and their surrounding community, shows great promise for easy adaption many colleges and universities may be looking for.

Among Elon’s signature undergraduate research programs are the Spring Undergraduate Research Forum, which showcases research from departments across campus, and the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, which supports students as they pursue research between academic years.

Mentored student scholarship and creative work are supported through grants and travel grants, including funding for student presentations at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. Mentors are supported through Mentor Development Grants and Mentor Travel Grants. Scholarship on mentoring practices is disseminated through Perspectives on Undergraduate Research Mentoring, a peer-reviewed publication housed at Elon.