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NCUIRE-ing minds: Students offered research trifecta

October 01, 2010

Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences has announced it will award stipends to qualifying undergraduate students who conduct research under a new program launched to provide greater experience for participants, and to enhance retention and recruitment.

The NCUIRE (New College Undergraduate Inquiry and Research Experiences) program will allow undergraduate students enrolled in New College to receive a stipend while working with a faculty member on a research project. NCUIRE Scholars are paid to work part-time during the academic year ($2,500 for two semesters) or full-time for a summer ($2,500 for a single eight-week summer). The stipend is intended to allow the student to focus his or her attention on an experience that will be of benefit professionally as the student progresses through school and beyond.

“This program will provide selected students with a unique and invaluable practical experience,” said Todd Sandrin, New College associate professor and associate director of its Division of Mathematical and Natural Sciences. Sandrin is the NCUIRE coordinator, administering all aspects of the program, including the review of applications.

“Research represents a meaningful way that undergraduates can obtain experience, before they graduate, that will likely make them more competitive as they apply for jobs,” Sandrin noted. “Courses provide students with a wealth of information about a particular discipline. Research gives them the ability to apply that information to solve real world problems and to delve far more deeply into many of the most intriguing topics they cover in their coursework.

“Partnering with a faculty member to conduct this research allows students to work alongside a world-renowned expert in a field of interest to them. Students will be able to learn the craft of the discipline in a unique and meaningful way. They’ll likely acquire a colleague and a mentor who can help guide them as they progress through their academic career and beyond.”

New College students interested in participating in NCUIRE begin by meeting and conferring with a faculty member on research topics. Upon agreeing on an area of research, the student and faculty member submit a short proposal that includes: a description of the research question and/or the creative goal to be addressed, an overview of the methodologies to be employed, a statement describing the professional benefit the student will receive through an NCUIRE award, an assessment of the feasibility of the project, a detailed timeline, expected research outcomes, and a project budget. Deadline for proposal submission is Nov. 5. Proposals will be reviewed by a committee composed of faculty from the three New College divisions: Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies; Mathematical and Natural Sciences; and Social and Behavioral Sciences.

“This is an exciting opportunity for undergraduate students who have an interest in conducting research,” said Sandrin, who has been at ASU’s West campus since 2008, and whose own research interests focus on the interface of microbial physiology – how microorganisms work – and microbial ecology – how microorganisms work together. “I expect that the program will enhance student retention and recruitment. Providing students with an avenue to gain valuable experience while earning a stipend has been shown to enhance student retention and to increase the proportion of students who graduate in four years.”

NCUIRE Scholars will work part-time for two academic semesters (spring and fall) on a research project with a faculty member. Students can opt to work full-time during a single summer. In addition, NCUIRE Scholars will present results of their research at the New College Expo and an annual NCUIRE Scholar’s Symposium.  Scholars will also be expected to attend relevant seminar series that their faculty mentor recommends.

“Through research, inquiry, and creative endeavor, students have the unique opportunity to know something no one has ever known, to find an answer to a question once thought unanswerable, and to create something that previously existed only in their imaginations.”

For application information, visit  Additional information is available by calling Todd Sandrin at 602-543-6934.  Sandrin’s lab Web page is