On Thursday November 21st, from 10-2PM in SUB Cascade room, the UASU is hosting Brain Pop: Why you Should do Undergraduate Research, a one day interactive event for students to engage with different ways of getting involved in undergraduate research.


Research. it’s often an intimidating word with images of a 4.0 GPA student in the laboratory pipetting away into the night. You might be reading this and wondering whether research has any real benefit for your undergraduate career. Well, I want to say that it does, because I was one of those students! As a Science student focused on classes, I did not think that I was able to do research, nor did I understand the benefits that it would have on my undergraduate experience. I got involved in a research project funded through the Undergraduate Research Initiative, under the mentorship of a faculty member who not only mentored me in my research, but also in my academics, extra curriculars, and helped develop in me the confidence that I now have today. My involvement in mentored research gave me the opportunity to immensely grow skills such as time management, teamwork, leadership, writing abilities and many others that transpired into my academic and personal life. My supervisor was the initial reason I got involved in university and student governance, which has brought me to my position on the Students’ Union Executive now. 

With all of that being said, meaningful undergraduate research experience is more accessible than one would think and has an array of benefits from learning new skills,  professional development opportunities and mentorship. As a form of experiential learning, undergraduate research can offer learning opportunities outside of the classroom that richly benefit students. 

There are ways to get involved in undergraduate research, tailored to your interests and skills. A fantastic first place to explore is the Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI), a resource on campus that offers funding for undergraduate research through the URI Stipend, which does not consider your GPA in the adjudication process. The URI office also has targeted funding for sustainability research projects for students who are interested in research in this field. There are also options to publish your work through Spectrum, an open-access interdisciplinary undergraduate journal for students to publish their research and review articles, music, video, art, creative writing and much more. Students wanting to present their research, can apply to take part in the Festival of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (FURCA) which is hosted every year and a great opportunity to learn presentation skills, and meet other peers doing research. If you’re just lost about how to get into research, you can schedule consultation meetings with the URI for general advice.

Whether you’re in STEM or Humanities, there are many ways that you can get involved in undergraduate research. On Thursday November 21st, from 10-2PM in SUB Cascade room, the UASU will be hosting Brain Pop: Why you Should do Undergraduate Research, a one day interactive event for students to engage with different ways of getting involved in undergraduate research. 

The event is meant to increase awareness about undergraduate research opportunities, highlight steps for students to get involved in research, and promote resources available to support undergraduate research. The format of the event will be a combination of a resource fair and rapid fire talks on various undergraduate research related topics. Students will also have the chance to connect with undergraduate researchers and ask them questions about their experiences. I wish in my first few years on campus that there was an event as such to help encourage me to get involved earlier, but it’s better late than never! I hope to see you all on November 21st, 2019 from 10 a.m. –  2 p.m. to learn more about how you can benefit from undergraduate research, while grabbing some free coffee, popcorn and prizes!


Joel Agarwal
Students’ Union Vice-President Academic

Joel Agarwal is the 2019-2020 Vice President Academic for the University of Alberta Students' Union. He is passionate about undergraduate research, open education resources, and ensuring students have the resources available to reach academic excellence. Having been involved in student governance for the past two years, he has served the University of Alberta Students' Union as a Faculty of Science Councillor as well as on the General Faculties Council (GFC) which is the primary academic decision making legislative body at the University of Alberta. Within these roles, he actively sat on various committees and developed his passion for student governance, and student academics. In his spare time, Joel is an avid nature photographer, loves jazz, plays the piano and trombone is loves health research.