Undergraduate research allows students to develop creativity and problem-solving skills.
Experience in a research laboratory opens up career opportunities and perspectives that classroom education is unable to provide, improves critical thinking skills, and offers you an appreciation of the research process.
One aspect of a professor’s job is to train the next generation of scientists. While professors mentor graduate students in their labs, many also find great reward in mentoring undergraduates student if the student’s interest in research is genuine.
Participating in these opportunities is helpful for pursuing an advanced degree where experience with modern laboratory equipment and techniques and recommendation letters from faculty play an important role in selection. Thus, research projects are excellent training grounds for successful careers in academic or industrial settings. Most faculty were involved in undergraduate research as students, and PURL will help you follow in their footsteps.
The aim of PURL is to develop future generations of life science professionals by increasing research engagement, strengthening scientific competency, and improving career success of Georgia State students. We do this by supporting development of high-quality, primary research opportunities for undergraduates, facilitating student access to primary research, quantifying impact of research experiences on students, and promoting accomplishments of student researchers and their faculty mentors.
PURL arose as a result of grassroots efforts by biology faculty who realized that their own intellectual development and career trajectories were deeply affected by undergraduate research. The predecessor to PURL was the Undergraduate Research Center, a multi-user facility developed by Dr. Paul Ulrich for faculty and students to work on specific research projects. The URC was birthed in 2011 when space for undergraduate research laboratories arose in Kell Hall, an aging building converted from a parking deck, and the Collaborative Learning Laboratory in this building served as a prototype for developing student-centered, primary research spaces for Course-Based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs). The GSU Office of STEM Education Initiatives was integral in supporting the URC and CUREs, and internal funding sources were critical to the effort. With Kell Hall’s pending demolition, the undergraduate research program relocated to newly renovated, larger laboratories in the neighboring Natural Science Center in 2018 and grew in 2019 with addition of an additional laboratory suite. Since 2011, hundreds of students have participated in undergraduate research through PURL and its predecessors, and, in the coming years, PURL will provide transformative experiences to over 300 students per academic year.