UWM celebrates undergraduate research and “R1” status WM celebrated its status as an “R1” university, a designation given to the country’s top research institutions, in April at an event highlighting one aspect of the university’s research prowess: The UWM Undergraduate Research Symposium. The annual symposium showcases the research collaborations of undergraduate students with faculty and staff through presentations of their findings. UW System President Ray Cross and UWM Chancellor Mark Mone attended this year to help celebrate. “Milwaukee and Wisconsin will progress and grow to a great extent and direction proportionate to your growth and progress,” Cross told the students. “You are inextricably linked to the success of this community and state.” Though the symposium highlighted students’ efforts and findings from their research, both Cross and Mone emphasized that it wouldn’t be possible without the faculty and staff at UWM that stand as mentors for their students.
Jennifer Gutzman, associate professor and mentor from Biological Sciences, is congratulated by her research team after winning the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year award. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)
“‘Research 1’ really stands for the quality of our faculty, and that translates directly to the high-caliber educational opportunities that change lives at UWM,” said Mone. Research recognized Since 2016, UWM has maintained its elite status as a top research university, outlined by the evaluation of institutions across the country for their research expenditures and awarding of doctoral degrees. UWM is one of only 131 out of 4,324 institutions evaluated to receive this prestigious recognition by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Carnegie reaffirmed UWM’s elite status in December 2018. UWM’s undergraduate research has also received national recognition. The university is one of two universities to receive the Council on Undergraduate Research’s Campus-Wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments in 2018. This year’s symposium concluded with a campus-wide celebration of UWM’s continued R1 status. “The symposium celebrates the contributions of undergraduates to these important research agendas, and the collaborative spirit of research itself,” said Kyla Esguerra, associate director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. The symposium also showcased the diversity of research at UWM. It’s not just lab coats and test tubes: Research spans a breadth of programs at UWM. 14 • IN FOCUS • May, 2019
Ashley López, a senior majoring in psychology, gave a presentation on her research into the effectiveness of health promotion interventions for transgender people, with a focus on HIV and STD risk reduction, substance use and depression. Prior to starting her research, López, like many others, had misconceptions about the potential and variety of research. “Before conducting research with my mentor, I was not considering research at all because of my previous views and opinions of what it was,” López said. “Working with him I realized I was wrong. Research is a lot of things. There’s so much variety.” Interests fuel research López’s presentation also represented how students across UWM are able to integrate their personal passions and interests into their research. “I didn’t think that the things I care about, such as gender identity, could be considered research,” said López. “I knew from my personal life that I enjoyed helping others work through these things. When I found out I could combine this with my academic work, it was perfect.” Other presentations at the symposium included how music affects memory, time perception in virtual reality, storm chasing and how YouTube can help people with autism spectrum disorders communicate. At the end of the day, awards were given to UWM students and faculty to recognize their research efforts, including Biological Sciences professor Jennifer Gutzman, who was recognized as the 2018 Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year. A full list of winners is available at https://bit.ly/2GYKK35. By Madeline Redell, University Relations