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Undergraduate Research and Major Awards Recognized for Academic Excellence

September 15, 2021
By Jillian Holden

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The University of Houston System Board of Regents presented the Regents’ Academic Excellence Award to the University of Houston Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards (OURMA) in the Honors College, recognizing excellence in teaching, research, and community engagement.

“We allow UH undergraduates to work directly with faculty members as early as their freshman year and collaborate on ground-breaking research while developing a broad set of skills that prepare them to make scholarly advancement now and in the future,” Undergraduate Research Associate Dean Stuart Long said.

The Regents Academic Excellence Award recognizes OURMA’s drive to intentionally expand participation in undergraduate research through new programs and opportunities for student research and advancement.

“The educational experiences they are having is life-changing for many of our students,” Provost Paula Myrick Short said. “Our students are developing their competitiveness for fellowships, scholarships, and major awards that are national and international.”

OURMA develops and supports initiatives such as Action Research in Communities, Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships, Mellon Research Scholars, and the Provost's Undergraduate Research Scholarships, effectively integrating research, community engagement, and creativity.  The research programs are designed to fashion a work ethic in undergraduates that is informed by reflection while fostering a drive for innovation.

UH was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education as a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Top Producer.  It was the first time in the University’s history to be so recognized, with more student Fulbright awards than Texas Tech, Texas A&M, LSU, SMU, and Rice University combined. In the last four years, 36 UH students have been awarded Fulbright grants to study, research, and teach English abroad, more than the 51-year period from 1966-2017, during which UH students received 26 of the prestigious awards.

“This type of success would not be possible without intensive undergraduate research programs,” said Ben Rayder, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards. “OURMA promotes research and fellowship opportunities for undergraduate students in all areas of study,” he added. “We emphasize student development by providing scholarly opportunities that are hands-on, such as Undergraduate Research Day, the Senior Honors Thesis program, and the new Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities program.”

Honors College Dean Bill Monroe noted that the Honors College Bonner Leaders Program was one of the first recipients of the Academic Excellence Award in 2016. “OURMA programs have set the pace for outreach, diversity, and inclusivity,” he said. “That is also a great source of pride for us. OURMA sets the example and leads the way with premier service to the entire University community.”

Interested students should contact the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards at undergrad-research@uh.edu to inquire about how to get started in undergraduate research and the competition for national fellowships.