Invitation to Mentor in USOAR

Brian Cullaty — Feb. 12, 2018

Dear faculty,

We are currently seeking faculty mentors for the Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research, or USOAR program. USOAR seeks to match undergraduate students with a paid research position funded by the Federal Work Study program and the Center for Undergraduate Excellence. Interested faculty members should read the information and guidelines below and complete a position description form by Monday, April 16th.


We will offer three information sessions for faculty interested in mentoring through the program:

1.       Monday, February 26th from 3:00 to 4:00 in the Commonwealth Room of Newcomb Hall (for Science faculty)

2.       Wednesday, February 28th from 3:00 to 4:00 in the Commonwealth Room of Newcomb Hall (for Humanities and Social Science faculty)

3.       Thursday, March 1st from 3:00 to 4:00 in Pinn Hall Room 1017 (for School of Medicine Faculty)


You may also learn more about the program from the following news articles. 


UVAToday, “USOAR Program Uses Work-Study to Introduce Undergrads to Research”

Cavalier Daily, “USOAR Program Hosts Research Symposium”


This promises to be an exciting program at UVA for both students and faculty. We hope you will consider serving as a faculty mentor. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the program.   


Best regards,


Brian Cullaty

Director of Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Center for Undergraduate Excellence

University of Virginia



Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research (USOAR)

Call for Faculty Mentors


What is USOAR? USOAR is a program that matches first-, second- and transfer undergraduate students who do not have previous significant experience in research with a paid research position funded by the Federal Work Study program and the Center for Undergraduate Excellence. Students will spend 5-10 hours per week during the academic year working with their faculty supervisor in research-related tasks or projects. USOAR strives to not only introduce students to the enriching experiences surrounding research, but also provide students with the chance to build strong relationships with faculty. Modeled in part on UROP at the University of Michigan, USOAR grew out of pilot project developed in 2013 by the Provost's Office and Student Financial Services, at the request President Sullivan, who sought to increase scholarly paid work opportunities for undergraduate students.


What makes USOAR distinct?

·         It targets rising first-, second- and transfer undergraduate students who do not have previous significant experience in research.

·         It seeks to attract students with financial need and from underrepresented populations and provide them with a path into research.

·         USOAR is only be open to Federal work-study eligible students


How do I participate? Interested faculty members should read the commitments and guidelines below and complete the following position description form by MONDAY, APRIL 16TH:


What are my commitments? When classes begin in fall 2018, you will interview a small number of students that have applied to your position and select the student whom will be assigned to you.

Faculty Guidelines for Hosting a USOAR student


By accepting a USOAR student, you are committing to mentoring and supervising a student on an ongoing research project over the 2018-19 academic year. This includes the following:

•         Coordinating the research project and mentoring process with any U.Va graduate students, postdoctoral fellows or co-mentors, who are also mentoring the student throughout the academic year.

•         Facilitating weekly or bi-weekly meetings with the USOAR student. For those with large research groups, this could include normal group meetings, but the faculty mentor is expected to meet with the student one on one at least twice a semester.

•         Communicating with the USOAR director regarding the fit with the student, especially if any concerns.

•         Completing a brief midyear evaluation of the student’s progress toward your learning outcomes.

•         Providing feedback and support to students for USOAR course deliverables. These include a 2-page project proposal on a topic related to their research or a 2-page literature review at the end of the fall semester and an original 5-minute talk or poster presentation on their research project or topic at the end of the spring semester. Their talk may focus on their research project with their faculty mentor, OR their contributions to their faculty mentor’s research.

•         Attending the final USOAR symposium, and encouraging other faculty, staff and students involved with the student to attend.

•         Ensuring that USOAR students are provided with a holistic learning experience through which they will have the opportunity to develop professionally and gain substantive research experience. Students should develop a “big picture” understanding of the research process. Below are some examples of what a substantive research experience may include, but are not limited to as the experience of the student should be tailored to your specific research project:

o   Reading Literature: Students can read background literature pertinent to the project. Ideally, students would be provided with a few relevant resources as preparatory reading before beginning work with you.

o   Data collection: When including students in data collection is not feasible, efforts should be made to ensure students understand how the data is collected.

o   Coding or analyzing data: Students may be able to conduct basic analyses.

o   Writing: Students could assist in the writing a section of a paper, abstract, or conference proposal.

o   Evaluating Literature:  Students may be asked to conduct an appraisal or evaluation of published research article(s) in the subfield.

o   Research Meetings: Participating in research meetings with faculty, staff, graduate students, and other undergraduates who are involved in the research project.

o   Presenting on Research: This might include presenting on the work they have accomplished that week during a group meeting.

What does the program provide? We will post your position description to the USOAR Web site and open the application process to incoming students. The prospective students will submit applications along with cover letters and resumes for your position. By the end of the summer, we will post the applicants’ materials in a Collab site for you to review. Student wages will be funded 100% through a combination of Federal Work Study funds and supplemental funding provided by the Center for Undergraduate Excellence (CUE). The CUE will manage the HR processes related to paying student workers. The students will take a one credit course for the fall and spring semesters in which they will discuss their experiences, compare notes, assess the program's impact on their undergraduate experience, and receive other programming on topics related to research. In spring 2019, we will organize an event that will show case student work.