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5 Reasons UWF Students Should Take Advantage of Undergraduate Research

Many Argos may not know that the University of West Florida offers some pretty unique opportunities when it comes to research as an undergraduate.  First of all, I want to emphasize the importance of undergraduate research and why it could possibly be the best thing you participate in as an undergraduate.

1. Research sets you apart from everyone going after your chosen career when you graduate. For example, my research experience led me to a desirable internship in my field. You should take advantage of UWF’s Office of Undergraduate Research because research opportunities are slim to non-existent for undergraduates at larger state universities.  Often times, students won’t receive the chance to participate in research until they reach graduate school. 

Water quality analysis located at Naval Live Oaks, Gulf Breeze, FL

2. Research gives you hands on experience in your field. Experience gives you the chance as a collegiate to find out what you truly enjoy doing.  The Office of Undergraduate Research hands you the reins to investigate your true interests.

3. Research allows you the opportunity to fine tune where you want to go with your education.  Research often introduces you to parts of your field that you may be unfamiliar with, giving you the ability to open your mind to new ideas and questions.

Research group photo on Lamma Island, Hong Kong. We had just finished up a long day of water sampling and imaging test runs

4. Research creates a network of professionals that all come with experienced advice. My research involvement with UWF OUR has opened the door to intellectuals that seek to guide and help me in any way they can.  Personally, I’ve found an increase in my confidence and determination toward my academic goals because of the support system offered by UWF OUR.

5. Research can lead you to additional opportunities you never thought possible. I never would have imagined traveling to a large national conference in Hong Kong my freshman year, but because of UWF OUR this all was made possible.

Buddha statue and me found in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Not only did I get to collaborate on my research, but I also got to learn about local religion and culture.

Not sure about what you would like to research? That’s totally acceptable too. The Office of Undergraduate Research has a program called OUR Explorers, which offers undergraduate students the chance to get a taste of several research fields. This variation in experience allows students to fine tune their interests while professionally developing themselves all at once. 

Dr. Allison Schwartz is the director of UWF OUR. She possesses a wealth of knowledge regarding undergraduates participating in research and advises students to get involved in OUR.

“Undergraduate research is a cornerstone of a UWF education; it is something that UWF really excels at and what sets us apart from larger universities.  What most universities do with their graduate students, UWF is doing with undergraduate students. It is a privilege to work with so many exceptional undergraduate students at UWF.  My own undergraduate research experience was life-changing, and so I know what an impact it can have on our students.  Because of this experience, my goal is to provide support and opportunities to make research accessible to all undergraduate students at UWF,” She said.

With faculty and peer mentors looking to positively expand your experiences, there’s no reason you should not take part.  UWF’s Office of Undergraduate Research offers a myriad of opportunities such as travel funds, research support, laboratory experience, access of professional mentors, and much more. Majors from art to science can all take advantage of UWF OUR’s support programs to better their education and throw themselves into their fields. For more information, visit:


In addition to OUR’s website students can also stop by Building 4 Room 408 to get their questions answered first-hand by the staff and mentors of UWF OUR.

Nature lover, turtle fanatic and forever passionate about the environment. I'm an environmental science major and would love to travel the world expereincing all of Earth's environments. I hope to share my love for the world through the written word. 
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