Festival of Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities (FURCA)
The Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI) launched at the University of Alberta in 2011 with a bold vision: to create a culture in which every undergraduate student has opportunities to engage in research and creative activities, both in and out of the classroom. Why? Because we believe that undergraduate students deserve the very best that a research-intensive institution has to offer: high-impact, hands-on experiences at the cutting edge of human knowledge -- the opportunity to put their ideas and their curiosity to work.
How do we support students?
So far, the Undergraduate Research Initiative has funded more than 120 interdisciplinary undergraduate research projects. We’ve helped thousands of other aspiring researchers take their first steps by providing one-on-one advising, research skill development workshops, and other research-related activities. But creating a campus-wide culture of undergraduate research requires more than supporting individual students. It takes a community of passionate and curious people who believe, as we do, that students don’t come to university to just absorb knowledge. Undergraduate research provides opportunities for students to take charge of their learning -- to learn how to think critically, ask questions, express ideas, to discover how they can become active, engaged citizens and leaders.
Last year, we launched the University of Alberta’s first ever campus-wide Festival of Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities (FURCA). Our goal is to bring together students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the broader community to celebrate the creativity and innovation of our undergraduate students. With FURCA, unlike many discipline-specific events, students have opportunities to practice sharing their research with and learning from people outside their own areas of expertise. We believe that supporting students in meaningful and diverse interactions will help them develop the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for them to thrive as members of interdisciplinary teams, no matter what their future career goals might be.
In its inaugural year, FURCA brought together more than 25 groups and reached more than 2000 students from across all disciplines. You can check out some of the highlights here.
This year, FURCA’s back, with more of what students have told us they’re looking for:
- Opportunities to explore undergraduate research & creative activities. (e.g. Research Crawls)
- Events & activities that empower students to take their first steps (or next steps!) in research. (e.g. our first-ever Undergraduate Research Resource Fair)
- A celebration of enlightening research and creative activities by University of Alberta students. (e.g. the Undergraduate Research Symposium, Awards Reception & Keynote Performance)
How can I help?
We invite you to help support this emerging culture of undergraduate research by becoming part of it! We are crowdfunding to raise money to support FURCA events, but also to provide a mechanism for the whole community to get involved in our celebration of undergraduate research. Every contribution in support of FURCA sends a clear message to our students: The University of Alberta is a place where their questions matter.
Where will your money go?
The funds we raise will help cover costs associated with running various events throughout FURCA, as well as monetary awards for outstanding undergraduate research in several categories, including interdisciplinary research and creative activities. (For a list of last year’s award recipients, click here).
What events are happening during FURCA this year?
Here are some of the major events happening during FURCA this year:
- Nov 3: Faculty Showcase: Highlights outstanding examples of course-based undergraduate research at the University of Alberta, and ways that students are exposed to research through their courses.
- Nov 7-8: Tomorrow’s Ideas, Now: Hacking Social & Cultural Innovation: A hands-on, interdisciplinary event focused on developing undergraduate projects related to social & cultural innovation.
- Nov 10: Research Crawls: Interactive guided tours of different research facilities on campus. It's a fun way for students to see behind the scenes of research and discover the diverse interdisciplinary research opportunities at the University of Alberta.
- Nov 13: Undergraduate Research Symposium: The marquee event of FURCA is our annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, where students from across all disciplines gather to share their research through posters, performances or other demonstrations.
- Nov 14: Undergraduate Research Resource Fair: The Resource Fair helps empower students to get started in research by connecting them with organizations and resources that support undergraduate research and related activities.
- Nov 14: Awards Reception & Keynote Performance (GWG Piece by Piece, with University of Alberta alumna, Maria Dunn. Read a profile of Maria here!)
Published on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 at 06:48 PM (MST)
As we pause this weekend to reflect on the things we're most grateful for, I wanted to take a moment to personally thank all of our champions and supporters, and share a little about why supporting undergraduate research matters so much to me.
Put simply, I am where I am today because of undergraduate research. In 14 years, my career has come full circle thanks to undergrad research -- from my own first steps into the lab as a biochemistry student, to my first job out of university as a lab technician, to managing a busy lab and mentoring undergrads, to graduate school, and now to coordinating one of the first campus-wide initiatives in Canada that supports undergraduate research across all years and all disciplines.
2001: In the lab where it all started.
As author Douglas Adams once said, "I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."
Undergraduate research gave me the skills and the confidence to apply what I was learning in the classroom to real-world problems. It gave me the experience and the contacts to help me land a job after I graduated. But more than that, it gave me a community of like-minded people who treated me, not as merely an undergraduate student, but as a valued colleague. My lab mates remain among my dearest friends, scattered as we are around the world: Germany, Switzerland, Qatar, Canada, the UK, and the US. And the mentorship I received as an undergraduate researcher set an example that continues to guide my work with students today.
With everything that undergraduate research has given me, it's easy to see why supporting the next generation is more than just a job for me. I'm passionate about what I do, and I'm grateful for the rapport I have with our students. It's a privilege to support them as they embark on their own projects and discover the challenges and rewards of undergraduate research for themselves. But I've also gained as much as I've given back. I continue to learn and be inspired by our students -- they challenge me as they challenge themselves -- to make their campus and their community a better place for all of us.
I think that's something we can all be thankful for.
And that's what FURCA is all about -- celebrating the achievements and contributions of undergraduate researchers, and building a campus community that creates and supports opportunities for every student to get involved in undergraduate research.
You can help us make that vision a reality by supporting and sharing our campaign. We also invite you to share in the celebration by attending or volunteering at upcoming FURCA events, such as the Undergraduate Research Symposium.
Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Today: Proud to support our terrific undergraduate students at the University of Alberta!
Link to this Update
Interdepartmental Science Students' Society (ISSS)
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Make an Impact
Ask a question!
In undergraduate research, everything starts with a question -- and a question can take you anywhere! By helping us raise awareness of undergraduate research through FURCA, you’ll be helping to ignite students’ curiosity. It starts here!
You've got a great question. Now what? The next step in undergraduate research is to dig deeper and learn more about the topic. By supporting FURCA, you’ll be helping us empower students to take those first steps toward independent research, through events like our Undergraduate Research Resource Fair.
Get your hands dirty
Undergraduate research is all about hands-on experience. Your support of FURCA will help us facilitate Research Crawls and other events where students can explore potential projects and connect with mentors and other students.
Research isn't just about satisfying students’ curiosity -- it’s also a chance to develop practical skills, and discover new and exciting career paths. Your support helps students experience the thrill of discovery.
Sharing new knowledge and inspiring others to ask new questions is one of the most important stages of the research process. FURCA events, such as the Undergraduate Research Symposium, allow students to share their work and learn from one another. Your support helps recognize students as active and valued contributors to the research community.
One of the goals of the Undergraduate Research Initiative is to foster a culture of undergraduate research at the University of Alberta. Events like FURCA are a “snapshot” of what that culture might look like -- each successful FURCA event brings us one step closer to our vision of making undergraduate research accessible to every student.
Uplift the whole people
The University of Alberta’s founding president, HM Tory, believed that “The people demand that knowledge shall not alone be the concern of scholars..” Undergraduate research helps equip students -- our future alumni -- to be engaged citizens and leaders, realizing Tory’s dream of “uplifting the whole people.” Your support of FURCA is just the beginning.