UBC URO: The club with a big impact that you’ve probably never heard of

For students riddled with anxiety about their lack of research experience, or just students in general who are interested in what research looks like, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities (URO) aims to offer help.

As the title would suggest, URO is a UBC club whose mission is to “improve the quality, diversity, and accessibility of undergraduate research at UBC and beyond.” Around a decade ago, URO started out as a peer program for science students, but today it is an AMS club for students from all faculties across campus and beyond.

“We’re trying to find specific departments where we feel there is a bigger gap between students getting involved and students wanting to get involved,” said Che-min Lee, vice-president internal of URO.

The URO hosts a number of initiatives to geared towards students of all levels of experience get involved in research, and a huge bonus is that most of these initiatives put a stronger emphasis on your passion than on your grades.

Research Experience (REX) Program

“REX is supposed to help transition students into ‘this is what research looks like over time’ as opposed to just bombarding them with a lot of work,” said Lee.

The REX program is a mentorship program that gives students the opportunity to work on a project throughout the year in order to develop fundamental research skills. Students are paired with professors based on their interests and research fields, which can be a fantastic way to network. This program is recommended for lower-year students or students with very little previous experience.

“REX is really great because it’s lower commitment and it’s a mentorship program.”

Research Involvement Fair (RIF)

RIF is an application-based process that results in an evening of speed interviews with professors from a broad range of academic research disciplines. It is a great way to hone your interview skills and learn how to become the best applicant that you can be.

Who knows, you might even land your first lab position. This program is recommended for upper-year students, students with more experience or students who are interested in a specific area of research.

“I think we’re also in a unique position because we are students too, we have a better idea of what students need in order to become involved in research,” said Lee.

National Collegiate Research Conference (NCRC) Travel Grant

Every year the URO receives funding in order to send three students to the National Collegiate Research Conference in order to present their findings at Harvard. This year the URO sent Farhad Shasemineiad, Iris Liu and Christina Cheung to share their research and represent UBC at the 2018 NCRC. This program is recommended for upper year students who are directly involved in and already have completed research projects.

Interdisciplinary Outreach Committee (IOC)

The IOC is a committee that was established within the URO this past school year (2016/17). The goal of this committee is to encourage and aid the URO in becoming more interdisciplinary and help the club through the awkward stages of broadening itself beyond ‘just another science club.’ Currently one of their goals is to add an interdisciplinary award to the Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference (MURC).

If you are interested in Applications to become an executive member of URO to work on committees like the IOC open in early March.

Canadian Journal For Undergraduate Research (CJUR)

“Our purpose is to try to get undergrads published as well as give them experience with the process of submitting to a journal,” said Iulia Dascalu, editor-in-chief of CJUR.

CJUR is an interdisciplinary journal that publishes research conducted by undergraduates across the country bi-annually. The deadline for their summer issue is May 30. So, if you already are heavily involved in research but are wondering about the next step of how to get published, submitting your work to CJUR might be helpful.

“It’s just a matter of reaching out and trying to form those connections with people and, you know, there’s more to your resume than your grades,” said Dascalu.