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Undergraduate Research Center

Undergraduate Research Center

Thanks for visiting the Undergraduate Research Center (URC)!  As stated in the Quest for Student Success 2025, MTSU is committed to graduating students “who are prepared to thrive professionally, committed to critical inquiry and life-long learning, and engaged as civically, globally responsible citizens”.  In order to achieve this goal, the University seeks to provide each student with a distinctive learning experience that lays the foundation for his or her own student success, life-long learning, and civic engagement. 

The Undergraduate Research Center aligns with this strategic path by providing students with opportunities to engage in mentored research during which faculty mentors lead, guide, and engage students in intellectual pursuits and recognize that commitment to an enriched faculty experience lies at the core of an enriched student experience.  Our goal is to promote mentored research at the undergraduate level, and provide university support for students and faculty members who engage in critical inquiry and life-long learning.

We hope you will check out our upcoming events and take advantage of our opportunities to get involved with undergraduate research.

What is undergraduate research?

Undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry is fundamentally a pedagogical approach to teaching and learning. With an emphasis on process, the Council on Undergraduate Research defines undergraduate research as the following:

A mentored investigation or creative inquiry conducted by undergraduates that seeks to make a scholarly or artistic contribution to knowledge. 

See what our students are doing!

Visit the Student Profiles page to discover what students have to say about their undergraduate research experiences.

Discover URECA

Kevin Bicker, associate chemistry professor, and his mentee Janna Abou-Rahma, undergraduate researcher and biochemistry major, appeared on a recent “Out of the Blue” episode to share about Abou-Rahma’s recent win at a highly competitive health challenge and her experience working in Bicker’s lab. To read the full story, click here.

What are the benefits of undergraduate research?

  • Enhances student learning through mentoring relationships with faculty
  • Increases retention and graduation in academic programs
  • Increases enrollment in graduate education and provides effective career preparation
  • Develops critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, and intellectual independence
  • Develops an understanding of research methodology
  • Promotes an innovation-oriented culture
  • Strengthens students’ content knowledge, research skills, and soft skills that employers and graduate schools value

In addition to funding student research through our Undergraduate Research Experience and Creative Activity (URECA) grants, the URC hosts several events each year that give MTSU students an opportunity to showcase their research. These events include the Summer Research Celebration, the Fall Undergraduate Research Open House, Posters at the Capitol, and Scholars Week. We hope you will check out these events and join us to experience the benefits of mentored research firsthand.

Why should the university fund undergraduate research?

Through URECA grants and other center activities, MTSU invests $120,000 in undergraduate research grants each year.

Research involving undergraduates is a logical investment for MTSU because it helps the university to:

  • maintain strong ties with alumni
  • generate a workforce of accomplished and sought-after graduates
  • build strong graduate programs
  • provide the extra challenge and preparation for high-end students going to top-notch graduate schools
  • attract the ‘best and brightest’ to our campus

Our Mission, Vision, and Values

As part of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, the Undergraduate Research Center’s (URC) mission is to be the central hub for communication about undergraduate research grant programs and other related opportunities on and off campus, to distribute university funds for undergraduate research and creative projects, and to promote dissemination of results through travel grants and by offering opportunities for students to present their research findings.

The URC is pursuing its vision to nurture a culture of research and creative activity at MTSU through support for undergraduate students and their faculty mentors.

We strive to implement the goals of the University’s Academic Master Plan related to the URC mission with the following values:

  • Excellence in research, scholarship, and creative projects
  • Opportunities for student-centered learning
  • Productive internal and external collaborations and partnerships
  • Success in academic and professional careers of our undergraduate students and their faculty mentors

Thursday, September 5th, 4:30pm

Learn more about URECA

Contact us

Jamie Burriss, Ph.D., Director
(615) 494-7669

Casey Penston, Coordinator
(615) 809-4588

Learn more about the URC