Job Opening: Office of Undergraduate Research, Program Coordinator (UCP V)

University of Connecticut
Office Undergraduate Research, Enrichment Programs
Program Coordinator (UCP V) (Search number 2013524)

Position Description:

The Program Coordinator of Office Undergraduate Research (OUR) contributes to University of Connecticut’s goal of providing undergraduate students with a wide range of opportunities to participate in academic enrichment activities throughout their collegiate careers. The Program Coordinator assists in all aspects of OUR operations.

The OUR is a part of the Enrichment Programs division. It is responsible for working with faculty and administrators based in all schools and colleges to promote and develop opportunities for undergraduate academic enrichment through research and creative activity; conducting open competitions for undergraduate research and creative endeavor awards; the administration of centralized funding for such activities; educating students and faculty about undergraduate research; and publicizing the accomplishments of undergraduate researchers.

The Program Coordinator will work with students, faculty, advisors, and academic administrators on undergraduate research issues. These duties include:

  1. Meet with and provide assistance to students who are interested in undergraduate research.
  2. Create, schedule, prepare materials for, and present workshops on undergraduate research and honors theses to undergraduates.
  3. Assist students in identifying opportunities for and preparing proposals and applications for internal and external research funding, including nationally competitive undergraduate research opportunities and other internships.
  4. Receive and review applications ensuring completeness and make referrals to appropriate personnel for review.
  5. Manage communications with students and advisors regarding outcomes of proposals.
  6. Maintain and enhance the OUR website to ensure accessibility, clarity, and educational value.
  7. Assist in the marketing and communication of OUR activities and funding programs to students, faculty, advisors, and other administrators.
  8. Process applications, paperwork and records. Maintain filing system.
  9. Manage workflow and contribute to quality improvement of forms and application materials.
  10. Process and maintain necessary paperwork, records, and files to support program, including fiscal records. Enhance electronic data systems, where appropriate.
  11. Work with University offices and the Foundation in the disbursement of funds to support undergraduate student research and creative endeavors.
  12. Assist in the execution of undergraduate research exhibitions and symposia (including the annual Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition), designed to share and publicize undergraduate students’ research achievements. This activity includes advertising exhibitions, securing space, event planning, processing proposals, creating programs, and managing events.
  13. Assist in all functions relating to grant programs such as the Summer Undergraduate Research Fund competition, including updating and creating language for the website, presenting at workshops , assigning reviewers, attendance at meetings and note-taking on the comments for each applicant.  Compile decision letters and work with Study Abroad to ensure compliance with University policies.
  14. Confer with and assist supervisor in the performance of program administration and activities. Assist in preparing program budgets and annual report for approval of supervisor and manage and monitor expenditures. Evaluate effectiveness of programs and recommend improvements or changes to appropriate manager.
  15. Prepare informational and promotional materials for use in outreach activities for all aspects of Office of Undergraduate Research work.
  16. Provide on-site supervision of events, oversee facilities use, provide support and assist in problem resolution.
  17. Assist with assessment efforts, assemble data, write and/or edits reports.
  18. Maintain a collection of resource materials and program information.
  19. May perform office support functions and projects, as assigned.
  20. Limited travel to relevant national conferences, regional events, and UConn regional campuses.
  21. Perform related duties as required.

Minimum Qualifications:

  1. Bachelors degree in an appropriate field.
  2. Three to five years’ experience  in a responsible administrative support position that demonstrates knowledge of administrative methods;
  3. Experience in conducting independent research or scholarship;
  4. Demonstrated ability to work independently and regularly exercise sound judgment in addressing program issues;
  5. Ability to efficiently multitask and prioritize workload.
  6. Excellent communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills.
  7. Familiarity with computers as a skilled user of word processing programs and electronic data systems such as Word, Excel, Access, FileMaker and database reports.

Preferred Qualifications:

  1. Graduate degree in appropriate field, preferably in the sciences or social sciences;
  2. Familiarity with competitive grant and award programs;
  3. Experience working with faculty across disciplines;
  4. Experience in an undergraduate research office or honors program or college;
  5. Experience at a large university;
  6. Experience with Peoplesoft and other database software;
  7. Experience with data analysis, database design, and program evaluation;
  8. Experience in designing or updating web pages and social media using relevant software (e.g. Dreamweaver, WordPress, HootSuite).

 To Apply:

For full consideration upload a letter of application, a resume, and a list of 3 professional references with contact information via Husky Hire (  Include search number on all correspondence. Screening of applications will begin immediately and continue until position is filled.

The University of Connecticut is an EEO/AA employer.


2013 Frontiers Program Now Available

We hope that you’re planning to attend the Frontiers exhibition this Friday afternoon or Saturday!

Here’s a link to the program. We have 218 undergraduate students presenting posters for 175 research projects. STEM fields, social science, humanities, and the arts are all well represented. Many students who are presenting their research have received SURF, SHARE, and other Office of Undergraduate Research awards.


The artwork for the Frontiers poster was produced by talented Holster Scholars, Kaitrin Acuna and Julianne Norton. The poster was designed by Mallory Matula. Thank you all!


2013 Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) Awards

SURF is the biggest undergraduate research competition administered by the UConn Office of Undergraduate Research. I am delighted to announce that 70 UConn undergraduates have been offered SURF awards for this summer. Members of the faculty review committee commented on how strong the field of 91 applications was this year. SURF applications require research proposals of high quality.

Congratulations to the SURF awardees! Your academic achievements, creativity, and enterprise were ever so evident in your applications. Have fun with your research this summer!

Thank you to the faculty members who supported SURF applicants: mentors, letter writers, and faculty review committee members! SURF represents a collaborative effort between students and faculty. SURF would not exist without the support and participation of faculty members!

Thank you, too, to SURF supporters in the UConn community. Deans of UConn schools and colleges and the Provost’s Office helped to fund the SURF competition this year. Alumni, parents, and friends of UConn also helped fund SURF awards. Our community quilt of funding ensures that SURF supports a diverse array of UConn undergraduate research!

Once again, congratulations to those students offered 2013 SURF awards.

Margaret Lamb, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Undergraduate Research




UCONN IDEA Grants – A New Opportunity for UCONN Undergraduates

The UConn IDEA Grant Program is a new competitive opportunity for undergraduates at the University of Connecticut. UConn students at all campuses and in all majors can apply for a UConn IDEA Grant of up to $4,000 to fund self-designed work on a topic, project, problem, artistic product or performance, or other entrepreneurial or creative idea of choice. The work should be personally meaningful, relevant, and engaging. The work does not need to be tied to a student’s major or minor, but it should be guided by a student’s academic goals and future plans. Students may apply individually or as part of a small group for this new undergraduate opportunity for creativity, innovation, original research, and service.

Read about UConn IDEA Grants in UConn Today and in the Hartford Business Journal!

In the pilot phase of the program, the Office of Undergraduate Research will make 10-15 awards in Spring 2013 and 20-25 awards in Fall 2013. (April 1st: Yippee! We’ve received 24 applications for UConn IDEA Grants! Can’t wait to read the proposals!) The initial UConn IDEA Grant projects will be planned in Summer 2013 with work done in Fall 2013. The second competition for UConn IDEA Grants will take place in Fall 2013. Those who are chosen for awards in Fall 2013 will plan their projects in Spring 2014 and then do their work in Summer 2014.

The UConn IDEA Grant Program has been designed to be flexible enough to support very diverse types of projects. During the pilot phase of the program (spring 2013 and fall 2013) we want program guidelines and best practices to be developed and refined through discussions with students, supervisors and mentors, advisors, and other members of the UConn community. We want UConn IDEA Grants to become a program that is valued by our whole UConn community for the creativity it encourages and the opportunities it provides undergraduates to produce great work. Your participation in making this new program a success will be most welcomed and appreciated.

Have a great idea and develop it as a UConn IDEA!

Margaret Lamb
Director, Office of Undergraduate Research
April 2013

March 2013 Application Deadlines!

Don’t wait to check out summer research opportunities. Many research programs and internships want to finalize their candidates early in the spring. Look for the acronym “REU” or Research Opportunity for Undergraduates when searching for possible summer opportunities. Some offer awards of $4000 to $5000, and free room and board for the summer!
Remember – summer positions can have a variety of different names – “fellowship,” “internship,” “co-op,” or “associate.” Keep your options open in order to find the best experience for you!

March 1 Deadlines:

March 5 Deadline:

March 8 Deadline:

March 15 Deadlines:

March 22 Deadline:

  • Behavior Sciences Student Fellowship – Epilepsy Foundation of America – Award amount up to $3,000.

Profiles in Undergraduate Research: CLAS SURFers 2012

[adapted from a story by Cindy Weiss, CLAS Today]

Sarah Grout was only six years old when a terrible stomachache at gymnastics practice led to a rushed ride to the hospital, where her appendix was removed before doctors discovered the real problem – an E. coli infection. She spent two weeks in the hospital recovering. Sarah, now 20, spent this summer in a biology lab in Beach Hall, running RNA interference experiments for her research project on how enterohemorrhagic E. Coli, often associated with food-borne illness, sets up its potentially fatal infection in humans.

Robert “Bo” Powers, 27, started college in Georgia as a music major in classical guitar. A treble clef tattooed on his ankle hints at his love of music. But after a move to the New Haven area, a job at Yale-New Haven Hospital and an associates degree earned from Gateway Community College, he came to UConn last fall as an honors student in cognitive science. This summer he designed an artificial neural network that he will use in his research project on metonymy – what causes people to choose certain metaphor-like descriptions. For instance, he wonders, why does a waitress tell the cashier, “The ham sandwich at Table 3 wants his check.”

“Creative use of language has deep implications when considering how languages change within a culture, what is considered ‘cool’ or novel, and how ambiguity is resolved,” he wrote in his research proposal.

First in the lab

Sarah, Bo, and 63 other students at UConn had their first full-time research experiences this summer thanks to Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships that provided them with up to $4,000 in stipend and supply funding and the opportunity to spend ten weeks in the lab. Thirty-nine of the students were from CLAS, and the CLAS Dean’s Office provided $24,000 to the program.

While many of the students have worked on research projects during the regular school year, the nine hours a week they devote then, in between classes, is much less intense. A SURF award gives them the luxury of time to do a literature search, read books on their topic, and design their own experiments.

“It’s really a great opportunity to be able to focus fulltime. I wouldn’t be able to get this much done during the year,” says Grout.

The fellowships make the difference between a summer spent pursuing their passion and a summer spent job surfing.

Devin O'Brien
Devin O’Brien’s research on insects is in the research group of Elizabeth Jockusch, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

If he hadn’t won a SURF award, says Devin O’Brien, a 21-year-old ecology and evolutionary biology major from Ballston Spa, N.Y., “I’d be at home, trying to get a normal job that wouldn’t further me in my career path.” Instead, he spent seven hours a day, five days a week, in the lab.

O’Brien, who is founder and president of the Entomology Club at UConn, studies insects from an evolutionary and development perspective. He’s examining the role that three descriptively named genes – fringe, frizzled, and dishevelled – have on the appendage development of a species of red flour beetle, T. castaneum. Appendages – legs, wings, mouths – are an area of diversity that might be responsible for an insect’s success in the world.

O’Brien came to UConn as a pre-veterinary major, but found that “the more I worked with cows the more I realized I didn’t like them.” After a brief stint as a pre-med major, he scaled down to insects, calling UConn “a great biology school.”

Lab lessons

One of the eye-openers for students about lab life is how an experiment can go awry. Some have found that their carefully planned project had far from the anticipated outcome.

“It’s frustrating, but interesting, because you can come up with all new ideas to see what’s going on,” says Catherine O’Brien, a 20-year-old senior majoring in molecular and cell biology. She filled two large binders with lab reports this summer.

The protein she is studying is linked to various mitochondrial diseases. If biologists could find a way to study it outside of the cell in a reconstituted form, it could advance research into these medical conditions, which have many variations and can affect vision, major organs, muscles and nerves, among other things.

O’Brien, who is from Old Saybrook, started out as a nursing major at Endicott College in Massachusetts. Courses she took there in genetics and microbiology turned her interest to pre-med studies, and she transferred to Clemson. But she missed New England. Before transferring to UConn, she emailed Nathan Adler, assistant professor of MCB, to see if she could work in his lab.

She works independently in the lab, although under the supervision of a PhD student in Adler’s group, Ashley Long. Long encouraged her to stake out her own research territory, and O’Brien says that gave her the confidence to explore her topic. In her previous research experiences at other schools, she was not allowed so much responsibility, she says.

Her SURF summer has taught her that research “is really a thinking process – it’s about how you think and how you approach things. I couldn’t have guessed I would learn so much.”