Summer program opens research up to undergrads

Editor’s note: Visit the official Western COVID-19 website for the latest campus updates.

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A Western initiative to help undergraduates gain experience and secure summer employment during the COVID-19 crisis will drive forward a key strategic priority that will resonate for students and researchers long after the current pandemic has faded.

The Western Undergraduate Summer Research Internship program will create experiential-learning opportunities, as well as some much-needed funding, for students who will likely face significant challenges as a result of COVIDs-19.

“This program is both a response to an immediate crisis and a step toward a long-standing goal of increasing research internship opportunities for undergraduate students,” said Jacquelyn Burkell, Acting Associate Vice-President (Research).

“This is a wonderful opportunity for students to contribute to research and develop new skills in the process.”

Running May through August, the 16-week summer internships are open to main campus undergraduate students in any faculty, with each faculty receiving an allocation of internships based on its undergraduate enrolment.

Burkell estimates the program could see as many as 220 internships created throughout the summer, including 20 specifically allocated for cross-faculty matches – supervisor in one faculty, student in another – to increase interdisciplinarity.

“This program provides faculty members with students who can assist with many research activities, allowing them to make greater progress on their research,” Burkell said. “There is also the advantage of the fresh perspective that undergraduate students can bring to a research program – new eyes, new skills.”

Students will engage in a wide range of activities, including literature searches and reviews; data analysis; assistance with the preparation of manuscripts, posters, websites, videos; and a host of other possibilities, Burkell said.

“We’re excited to see what other unanticipated opportunities come up as faculty members find creative ways to engage undergraduate students in their ongoing and emerging work.”

While the internships could be affected by ongoing closures across campus, the work will continue, Burkell stressed. Research will be carried out consistent with the university’s current guidelines, meaning other than in exceptional situations, all research will be carried out remotely.

For information on the program, contact your faculty’s Associate Deans (Research).