By Lucas Stewart, Staff Writer

The University of Alaska Southeast offers students ample opportunity to participate in research projects that build practical skills and prepare them for careers in any field.

Assistant Professor of Biology JoMarie Alba says a student can get tangible research experience that can be brought to their chosen career. Undergraduate research gives a leg up over others who don’t have the experience and aren’t working to get it.

“If students wish to continue in sciences or go to a graduate school, it makes the student look more competitive,” Alba said.

Getting field and exploratory experience is important in any field, particularly in the sciences. Students can have once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and learn at the same time, Alba said, giving them a more secure feeling about their choice of major.

“You start to get used to the idea of calling yourself a scientist early-on, and this can empower students in scientific fields,” Alba said.

Because UAS is a small campus, it is easy to make yourself stand out and gather as much experience as
you want, Alba said. Start by asking professors about their research and ways to get involved. Some research is even paid.

Be curious

“Research gives students practical experience and helps students develop questions in areas they are curious,” said Assistant Professor of Marine Fisheries Michael Navarro.

“It allowed me to express creativity in a way that could bring new information to the field.”

Navarro offered the following advice to students in the scientific fields: “Don’t be afraid to be curious and don’t think that others have the same questions as you.”

Both Alba and Navarro said UAS students should seek out and jump on research opportunities when they find them.

2022 URECA grants

The Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities program awarded grants for 15 projects at UAS this year – totaling about $23,000. The funds come from the URECA program and private support within the UA Foundation. Projects varied from science to Northwest Coast and other art projects, to Tlingit language videos, communication outreach, and opportunities for students to attend educational conferences in their field.

UAS Research and Creative Activity annually reviews project proposals on such criteria as eligibility, purpose, intellectual merit, likelihood of success, funding justification, and proposal quality.