In the summer of 2012, Sydni Coleman, an undergraduate at the University of Toledo, stood on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea.
Instead of vacationing off the coast of Italy, as one may expect, Coleman was using funds provided by the Office of Undergraduate Research to study whales, dolphins and porpoises.
Coleman’s trip abroad is an example of the, “research and scholarship [that] are keys to a student's success [in] preparing them for graduate school and [a] career,” laid out in director Jonathan Bossenbroek’s mission statement.
Although Coleman’s research, along with a handful of other funds granted in past reports, are science focused, Bossenbroek reinforced that “these stipends are open to all avenues of research and creative activities, from art to theatre to history.”
With a budget of around $150,000, the office has the resources necessary to fund a wide variety of scholarly research.
In 2017, fourth-year student Quinton Babcock veered off the course of STEM through his examination of the intersection of disability studies and the public goods literature in economics.
Through Babcock’s study, in which “The Office of Undergraduate Research [was] really critical” in alleviating financial stress, he concluded. “Disability Studies scholars miss the theoretical importance of economic theory on public goods while empirical economists largely do not consider the role that disability plays in the consumption of public goods.”
Aside from just two other students, Babcock’s research was an outlier among all the other First Year Summer Research Experience and the Undergraduate Summer Research and Creative Activity Program applications.
Most of the summer 2017 research program participants were awarded to science-focused research, including Alexander Fazeka’s “Investigation of Cell Specific Gene Regulatory Networks in Maize” and Jennifer Kim’s cloning, purification and crystallization of flavin-dependent biosynthetic enzymes from soil bacteria.
“The Office of Undergraduate Research was created in order to be a central resource for research and scholarship opportunities for undergraduates at the University of Toledo and beyond,” wrote Bossenbroek.
According to its website, the office attempts to expand students’ opportunities rather than limiting them to a single resource and also “coordinate[s] undergraduate research involvement with the other offices at UT, including the Office of Research, the Honors Program, the Office of Service Learning, the various colleges and the various departments and/or academic programs.”