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Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in Undergraduate Research

Humans have always asked questions and sought answers. It’s in our nature to discover, invent, and create new ways. As universities were established and research became a formalized component, exclusionary practices were prevalent. Extraordinary examples exist, like Marie Curie and George Washington Carver, but they weren’t the norm. Acknowledging the problematic history of university-based research is complex – it includes owning the lack of diversity and inclusion among researchers, identifying barriers that have prevented diverse research from occurring, naming the sometimes inappropriate use of human subjects, and recognizing that universities as a whole have benefited financially from exclusionary research.

Diversity is critical to NC State’s mission. New perspectives deepen our understanding, strengthen our community and propel our innovation.

As a university program at a public land grant university, the Office of Undergraduate Research is committed to furthering access and inclusion as a means of fostering intellectual, cultural, social, and emotional growth and responsibility. All of us – whatever race, gender, age, ethnicity, cultural heritage or nationality; religious or political beliefs, sexual orientation or gender identity; or socioeconomic, veteran or ability status – have the right to inclusion, respect, agency, and a voice in our community. All members of our community pledge to uphold these values.

Land Acknowledgement (adapted from a statement by Lynn Locklear-Fisher): Our university stands on unceded lands with past and present ties to indigenous peoples, lands that have witnessed the systemic maltreatment of enslaved persons and their descendants. We recognize these facts, honor these people, and work to rectify injustices and exclusions past and present. 

OUR’s Impact

OUR exists to support and promote undergraduate students engaging in discovery-, inquiry, scholarly- and creativity-based opportunities through mentored research experiences. We do this by connecting students and mentors with exciting research opportunities, awarding research funds, hosting research exploration events, reducing barriers for participation in research, and providing opportunities for students to communicate their research to others.

To reduce barriers for participation in undergraduate research and diversify the types of sponsored research, OUR does the following:

Federal Work Study Research Assistant Program

Started in 2017 in partnership with Financial Aid, the FWS-RA program gives qualifying students (as determined by FAFSA and the Department of Education) the opportunity to serve as paid research assistants. This allows students not only to engage in the high-impact practice of undergraduate research but to also build meaningful relationships with NC State faculty.

Research Funding

Each semester, OUR accepts and reviews research proposals from undergraduate students who are in need of project funding. Proposals are scored using a rubric by representatives from the project mentor’s department. While these scores carry the highest weight in the decision-making process, OUR also seeks to fund a diverse array of research. When funding restrictions occur, final funding decisions are based on advancing research across as many disciplines as possible.

Celebration of Research

Celebrating a wide variety of research helps students see themselves and their interests as inclusive to the research community at NC State. OUR promotes research from all disciplines, including the arts and humanities, to showcase the ways in which our university lives its Think and Do motto. We also celebrate the researchers, the writers, the thinkers, the artists, and the activists who seek new knowledge and answer the challenging questions facing our world today. We do this through our biannual symposiums, awards, student and mentor highlights, and social media.