Pioneer Undergraduate Research Fellowship recipients to present research April 19

April 17, 2013

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PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — Last spring, students at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville applied for the $500 Pioneer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, a grant designed to support undergraduate research under faculty mentorship. On Friday, April 19, the recipients of the grant will present the results of their research at the annual PURF banquet.

PURF grants are awarded to students in all disciplines, and can be used for many kinds of research and projects, according to Mittie N. Den Herder, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. “The PURF grants support a wider range of scholarship than many people may be aware of,” said Den Herder. “Certainly, students can conduct what may be thought of as “hard” science research. However, historical research and creative projects are equally important. A grant may support a student composing a piece of music or writing a piece of literature under faculty direction.”

All projects conducted using PURF funding are published in The Big M, Platteville’s undergraduate research journal. Former projects, which are available on the UW-Platteville New Ventures and Sponsored Programs web page, range widely in topic, from the effect of transportation on beef cattle to the impact of the atomic bomb on American media. “We want to provide students the opportunity to add to the body of knowledge and to understand more about our world and what it means to be human through creative endeavor,” said Den Herder. “The PURF program puts in place support for the scholarly activity of any discipline.”

According to Kathy Lomax, who served as the director of Sponsored Programs from 1993 until 2012, the PURF originated in the late 1980s. “It evolved under the leadership of Lee Holgren, who was the provost and vice chancellor, and Christopher Lind, who was the director of Sponsored Programs,” said Lomax.

Though PURF-funded research and other projects require the direction of a faculty member, “The students are the primary investigators,” said Den Herder. “The faculty is there to help and guide, but the students are doing the work.  This provides the students with a learning experience that shows them how we gain knowledge.”

There are other benefits to PURF-funded projects. “The educational value to individual students are inherent in these projects,” said Den Herder. “Additionally a project funded through PURF will improve a graduate school application. Often the projects carry with them good applications that may enrich the community. And presenting their work in front of a group is an experience that helps students develop confidence.”

Contact: Mittie Den Herder, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, (608) 342-1261, denherderm@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Jacob Reecher, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, reecherj@uwplatt.edu

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