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“A research university like Penn State is an exciting place for undergraduates. Many students are partners in active learning with faculty and other students engaged in the quest for new knowledge. Faculty serve as mentors for students, helping them identify critical research issues and structure approaches to experiments, fieldwork, or expressions of creative ideas. Participation in research as an undergraduate often has far-reaching effects on students’ career choices and future successes.”

– Dean Cheryl Achterberg, Dean John J. Cahir, and Provost Rodney A. Erickson

The faculty and staff at Penn State Shenango are committed to making research a key component of the undergraduate educational experience. What are the benefits of undergraduate research for students?

  • You can gain hands-on experience of value to your future career
  • You can augment your critical thinking, leadership, and other skills
  • You can learn in depth about the latest technologies and information
  • You can work closely with scholars in your area of interest
  • You can build stronger, lasting relationships with faculty members
  • You can gain skills and experiences that will help you gain admission to more prestigious graduate schools
  • You can share in the excitement of making new discoveries, writing original prose or poetry, designing a new or improved product, or generating research outcomes that are actually used
  • You can gain the opportunity to get published as an undergraduate
  • You can earn money while conducting research

Faculty Notes on Undergraduate Research

At Penn State Shenango, many faculty members have developed projects involving undergraduate students in the process of discovery and sharing the results of research with the wider academic community.

Dr. Kevin Joel Berland. associate professor of English and comparative literature:

“Over a period of a dozen years or so undergraduate research assistants have assisted with some of my research projects, including building a database of an important book collection assembled in England in the late 18th-early 19th century. Another student has made significant contributions to ongoing research supporting the development of an edition of hitherto unpublished poetry and prose by an 18th-century Virginia planter. These students have all expressed a strong continuing interest in historical research; their contributions to my published work have already been (and will continue to be) gratefully acknowledged.”

Dr. Charles R. Bursey, professor of biology:

Penn State Shenango students have assisted Dr. Bursey in his work on parasitology of amphibious vertebrates. In 1998, Dr. Bursey and undergraduate researcher W. F. DeWolf II. published “Helminths of the frogs, Rana catesbeiana, Rana clamitans, and Rana pallustris, from Coshocton County, Ohio” in the Ohio Journal of Science, vol. 98, pp.28-29.

James Elder, senior instructor, communications:

Baccalaureate business student Margaret U. Horne made two presentations on competitive intelligence at the Schreyer Honors College Undergraduate Exhibition, held annually at University Park. This event provides students with the opportunity to display undergraduate research through poster presentations on which they are judged. The areas of entry are: Arts and Humanities (including Visual Arts), Engineering, Health and Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Public Scholarship, and Social and Behavioral Sciences (including Business). Ms. Horne’s poster presentation, “Competitive Intelligence in the Business Valuation Profession” (advisors James Elder and Dr. Kevin Berland) won third place in the Social and Behavioral Sciences category. Ms. Horne went on to earn an M.B.A. and currently works as an admissions counselor at Penn State Shenango. She comments, “The entire experience was very rewarding and educational. The results of my presentation were published as “Competitive Intelligence in the Business Valuation Profession: A Case Study,” in the Fall, 1999 issue of Competitive Intelligence Review.”

Resources for Undergraduate Research:

Discovering Students - Research/Penn State’s undergraduate project:

Research Opportunities for Undergraduates:

Women in Science & Engineering Research:

Penn State provides travel support for students presenting at conferences:

Penn State Research Exhibition participants:

Vice President and Provost Rodney A. Erickson’s Remarks to the Committee on Educational Policy, Board of Trustees, about Undergraduate Research at Penn State: