UH Moment: "NCUR"

If you aspire to become a researcher, learning the skills is necessary.  If you aspire to be the best researcher, learning them early and from the best is essential.  Here's this week's UH Moment. 

Nine UH undergraduate students were selected to present their research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, the largest conference for undergraduates.

"I'm researching inorganic structural chemistry, which is basically materials science," said Mat Bosch, a senior chemistry major.  "What we're trying to figure out is the relationship between the structure of a magnetic compound and its properties. When you're trying to make novel compounds with magnetic properties you're trying to make something that might be useful for hard drives or sensors."

Bosch has been mentored by Assistant Professor Angela Moeller from the department of chemistry.   Similarly, Nicole Richardson, a senior psychology major, is pursuing research on the impact of health literacies on migraines, under the guidance of Assistant Professor Zhiwen Xiao of the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication.

"I started looking into migraines and found that no one had evaluated how health literacy could influence migraine intensity and occurrence," she said.  "I compared the level of health literacy between the general population and the migraneur population and, surprisingly, there really isn't that much of a difference. So health advocacy campaigns need to be a priority for such individualized disorders, like migraines, which can be prevented."

Undergraduate research encourages students to build strong research skills through mentored relationships with faculty. The experience is valuable especially as they eye graduate school.

"As a grad student, you're expected to do the same kind of research at maybe a little different level," said Professor Stuart Long, associate dean of undergraduate research at the Honors College.  "They'll be presenting papers at conferences, so having this experience as an undergrad gives them a step up toward the kinds of things that will be expected of them."

The national conference on undergraduate research is made possible by The Honors College and the Undergraduate Research Travel Fellowship Program.

"These (undergraduate experiences) prepare you—prepare you for interaction and for talking with people about research," Richardson said.  Bosch agrees.

"You have to have undergraduate research. You really almost have to have a paperwith your name on it if you want to get into grad school, so that's what I'm hoping to do with this."