University Research Council

December 7, 2005

Meeting Summary

Undergraduate Research Programs

Joe Grabowski, Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry, discussed undergraduate research programs at the University of Pittsburgh.  Research universities are cultivating undergraduate researchers to a greater degree than they have in the past.  Many universities have developed programs that encourage faculty to mentor undergraduate students, sponsor undergraduate students in research labs, and incorporate research components into undergraduate degrees.  Undergraduate research at the University of Pittsburgh is sponsored and highlighted (e.g., through research fairs) at the departmental, school, and University levels.

The School of Arts and Sciences’ Office of Experiential Learning sponsors numerous programs that are related to undergraduate research.  The Office’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program web page provides information on many programs, including:

  • The First Experiences in Research Program, which offers opportunities for second-semester freshmen to become involved in faculty research projects in the social sciences, humanities, or natural sciences.
  • The Research Experience for Undergraduates Program, which takes place in the summer and gives students an opportunity to work in research labs for an extended period, usually about 10 weeks.
  • The Brackenridge Undergraduate Research Fellowships, which support undergraduates in the summer months so that they can complete independent research projects.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

A team of faculty members visited Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to discuss research collaboration between PNNL and the University of Pittsburgh.  The University team focused on PNNL expertise in nanotechnology and homeland security, but PNNL also possesses expertise in the biological, chemical, and environmental sciences.

Report from the Office of Research

Allen DiPalma, Director of the Office of Research, discussed is an access point for more than 1000 grant programs offered by all federal grant-making agencies.  Universities throughout the country are concerned that may become the required proposal-submission platform before the universities are prepared to use it.  Office of Research staff are developing standardized procedures to enable faculty and staff to properly utilize the system.  A year-long training program geared towards users of the site will be instituted early next year.


Other topics of discussion included:

  • Multidisciplinary research program
  • Proposal-writing series
  • Academic computing seminar series
  • GIS initiative