University of North Carolina Asheville students are seen here working in a lab. Photo courtesy of UNCA website.

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More than 100 faculty and administrators from colleges around the country will gather at UNC Asheville June 28-30 for a conference aimed at strengthening undergraduate research in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics. The conference is hosted by the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC), which is headquartered at UNC Asheville.

University of North Carolina Asheville students are seen here working in a lab. Photo courtesy of UNCA website.

Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and facilitated by the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), COPLAC will hold this workshop and a follow-up meeting next year. COPLAC members will use the sessions to share ideas and develop new initiatives aimed at strengthening undergraduate research programs. COPLAC is one of only three awardees chosen by the NSF for this national effort to expand undergraduate research.

“This grant will enable 23 of the 26 COPLAC campuses to take their undergraduate research programs to the next level,” said William Spellman, COPLAC director.

“Within our consortium there are campuses with thriving undergraduate research programs as well as those that are just beginning. With the direction of the facilitators from the Council on Undergraduate Research and mentoring between COPLAC campuses, we hope to advance each college’s program.”

UNC Asheville is a suitable host for the June meeting, having founded the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR). For the past 25 years, NCUR has held a national conference each April where thousands of the country’s most promising undergraduate students present original research on a vast array of topics.

The annual NCUR conference rotates among member campuses and features plenary sessions led by distinguished faculty as well as leaders in non-academic life. The June workshop at UNC Asheville, in contrast, is a working session for faculty and administration to further expand and strengthen undergraduate research programs.

Among those representing UNC Asheville at the COPLAC undergraduate research workshop will be Rebecca Hale, assistant professor of biology; Janine Haugh, assistant professor of mathematics; Christopher Oakley, lecturer in multimedia arts and sciences; and Keith Krumpe, dean of natural sciences and team leader.

Kathleen O'Nan

Kathleen O'Nan is a contributing reporter to Carolina Public Press.

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