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Friday, November 28, 2014

Site will connect students, research opportunities

news@dailylobo.com
@ChloeHenson5

A new UNM website aims to connect students with faculty who can provide research opportunities on campus.

Research Match ( http://research-match.unm.edu ) will help students find research positions based on their major and interests, said Kiyoko Simmons, director of the Center for Academic Excellence and Leadership Development.

“It seems like research opportunities are the hardest for students to find on campus,” she said. “And for freshman and sophomores, many of them are not in their major yet, so it’s harder to find professors you share an interest with.”

While the site is open to both undergraduates and graduate students, Simmons said she was primarily motivated to help undergraduate students.

“Some undergraduates think that (research positions are) a graduate student thing,” she said.

The pilot version of the program started in November, but the site has been simplified since then and the official launch date was in late April, Simmons said. About 200 students and 55 faculty members have signed up so far.

One of the advantages of the website is that it helps students interact with professors who they may not have otherwise met, and it gives faculty the opportunity to recruit students from outside the department, Greg Heileman, associate provost, said.

“The way that students got in touch with me is that they saw me in class or we just happened to have a discussion about stuff we’re working on,” he said. “This kind of increases the opportunity to have collisions of faculty ideas with student desires.”

Edl Schamiloglu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, said he was one of the first professors to try out the new system because he tends to require a lot of students.

“I typically hire lots of undergraduates all the time, and usually they find me by word of mouth, or something, so we decided to be the beta tester,” he said.

While he was usually able to find students to help with research, Schamiloglu said the site may give faculty more options for recruits.

“I’m thinking what will happen now is there will be many more students applying, so it will be more competitive. I think as a result, faculty will have a stronger pool of students to draw from,” he said.

Engineering professors typically recruit students or receive applications from all over the world for graduate research opportunities, so the site may be less beneficial for graduate students, Schamiloglu said.

“For us, in sciences and engineering, I think this is more useful for undergrads,” he said. “However, I can see, in the social sciences, in the humanities, it might be very useful for graduate students to find projects to work on.”

Schamiloglu is planning to continue to use the website, he said. He anticipates it will be more popular next fall, after finals and the summer break, he said.

“I suspect, when we get into August and close to the beginning of the semester, I think the students will be back on campus and looking at it and trying to find opportunities,” he said.

Simmons said she visited 20 departments to meet with professors and encourage them to use the website.

“I’m hoping, by fall semester, more opportunities will be submitted,” she said.

In order to sign up for the website, students need to sign up with an email address and fill out a profile form on research-match.unm.edu, Simmons said.