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Frequently Asked Questions


Trevor Smith exampining the Nonlinear Optical Response of Silver Nanoparticals Dispersed in Castor Oil

Michael Reimer investigating Calmodulin and Fas receptor interaction

Jason Scott studying the effects of habitat on the genetic structure of Fundulus notatus and F. olivaceus populations

What is the deadline to submit a proposal for the URCA Associate Program?
What benefits would I receive from being a URCA Associate?
What are the GPA and other requirements to be a URCA Associate?
Do I have to do my URCA project within the department I am majoring in?
I am interested in the URCA Associate Program, but do not know where to start. What should I do?
Does the faculty member I ask to be my mentor have to meet any requirements?
My idea is inter-disciplinary; am I allowed to have co-mentors?
Can a faculty member mentor more than one URCA Associate during the same year?
My friend and I are both interested in the same idea; can we work together on a URCA project?
When do I apply to be a URCA Associate?
When should I start writing my URCA Associate proposal?
Do you have some examples of URCA Associate proposals that I can look at before I write mine?
What if the budget for my project is larger than $500?
How are the award and the equipment funds dispersed?
Can I earn course or Senior Assignment credit for participating in the URCA Associate program?
What happens if I am unable to meet my URCA responsibilities?
What happens if my faculty mentor is unable to continue the project with me after I have been selected to participate in the URCA as an Associate?
To what extent will the University's copyright and patent policies apply to me as an URCA Associate if I am accepted into the program?
What else should I know about the URCA Program?


Q. What is the deadline to submit a proposal for the URCA Associate Program?

A. Proposals must be submitted in both electronic and hard copy by noon on the third Friday in March to be considered for the following academic year (e.g., a student wishing to participate as a URCA Associate during his senior year, would submit a proposal in March of his junior year). Please note that this is a firm deadline and late proposals will not be accepted. Please e-mail the electronic copy to Dr. Laura Pawlow ( lpawlow@siue.edu) and deliver the paper copy to Office of Academic Innovation and Effectiveness, Rendleman Hall Room 3102; both versions must be received by the deadline! Click here for details about how to prepare the proposal packet.

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Q. What benefits would I receive from being a URCA Associate?

A. Students receive many benefits from being URCA Associates. They have up to $500 available to spend on expenses associated with their creative or research project. Additionally, they receive a $2400 award for the academic year of participation. The Office of Academic Innovation and Effectiveness has up to $400 available to assist with travel-related expenses for Associates who are able to present their projects at a regional, national or international conferences or exhibitions. Students are eligible to apply for travel funding for projects completed while they were URCA Associates as long as they are still full-time, undergraduate SIUE students or if they will be returning to SIUE as a graduate student the following fall (For example, if an Associate is graduating in May, and they are not returning as an SIUE graduate student in the fall, they cannot receive funding for conferences in July). Finally, participation in the URCA Associate program is recognized on transcripts and at graduation.

Associates receive numerous other intangible benefits from the URCA Associate Program as well. They develop a close working relationship with their faculty mentors, gain grant-writing experience and develop writing skills during the proposal-writing phase, and polish their presentation abilities during participation in formal symposia, classroom discussions and other forums. Additionally, they learn problem-solving, critical thinking and time-management skills during the course of working on their projects. For many Associates, these areas are at least as valuable as the tangible benefits derived from the URCA Associates Program.

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Q
. What are the GPA and other requirements to be a URCA Associate?

A. The minimum cumulative grade point average to apply for the URCA Associate position is 3.0 or higher. This is a firm requirement; close GPAs (e.g., 2.9) will not be rounded up! In addition, the student must be a full time (minimum of 12 credit hours) undergraduate student at SIUE at the time of application and throughout his or her participation in the URCA program.

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Q. Do I have to do my URCA project within the department I am majoring in?

A. No, but things are a lot more convenient if your URCA project is in a discipline you are majoring or minoring in at SIUE. One reason for this is that in many instances, URCA research fulfills the requirements for SIUE's Senior Assignment, which is discipline-specific and is a requirement for graduation from the University.

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Q. I am interested in the URCA Associate Program, but do not know where to start. What should I do?

A. In general, for students who don't know where to start, the URCA Associate application process works in one of two ways. The first is when students have an area in which they are interested in doing in-depth research or creative processes, but do not yet have a mentor selected. In that scenario, the student can talk to their faculty advisor, their department chair or the URCA Coordinator in an attempt to match up with a faculty member who may have a parallel research or creative activity interest.

Another possibility is that a student may already have a faculty member that he or she would like to work with, but has not selected a topic. In that case, the student should ask the faculty member if he or she would agree to be a mentor, and they can develop a project together.

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Q. Does the faculty member I ask to be my mentor have to meet any requirements?

A. Yes, a professor must be a full-time, tenured or a tenure-track faculty member working in an academic unit in order to be a mentor for a URCA Associate. In addition, first-time Associate mentors will be required to attend a brief, introductory meeting to review their responsibilities.

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Q. My idea is inter-disciplinary; am I allowed to have co-mentors?

A. Yes, if appropriate for the project, having co-mentors is an option.

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Q. Can a faculty member mentor more than one URCA Associate during the same year?

A. Associate mentorship is a big commitment, and as such, faculty members will at most be allowed to mentor two students in the URCA Associate program during any given year. If the mentor allows more than two students to apply, at most, only two will be selected.

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Q. My friend and I are both interested in the same idea; can we work together on a URCA project?

A. No, URCA proposals and projects are designed to be independent. Students cannot work together on the same project or proposal.

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Q. When do I apply to be a URCA Associate?

A. Students can apply when they reach sophomore or junior standing. Students apply during the preceding spring semester, then participate in the URCA during the following fall and spring semesters. Typically, if they apply as sophomores they will be juniors during their time as a URCA Associate, or seniors if they apply as juniors. This helps ensure: 1) that students are getting into upper-level coursework, 2) are more familiar with faculty in their majors who might be their mentors, 3) and hopefully streamlines Senior Assignment requirements for departments that allow URCA Associate projects to count toward that endeavor.

The URCA Associate Program runs concurrently with the academic calendar, and students need to make sure they are full-time students and will not graduate from SIUE before their time as an Associate is finished. For example, students in the 2013-2014 Associate Program must not graduate from SIUE earlier than May 2014.

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Q. When should I start writing my URCA Associate proposal?

A. The true answer is that it is never too early to start writing a URCA Associate proposal. Ideally, students will have their mentor and project topic in place in the fall before they will apply, and begin writing their proposals over holiday break. It is important to give yourself enough time to make revisions as needed.

In addition to your mentor and department chair, you can also ask several other people to read your proposal. It is a good idea to have someone outside of your department read your proposal to make sure it does not contain terminology or abbreviations that are too discipline-specific or unexplained technical processes that are unfamiliar to those outside the field of study.

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Q. Do you have some examples of URCA Associate proposals that I can look at before I write mine?

A. Yes, we do. Several proposals from a variety of disciplines are available to be viewed on our Sample Proposal Page. All of these proposals were successfully funded, and the students who wrote them have agreed to make them available on this web site to serve as examples for potential applicants.

It is suggested that potential applicants view several different proposals, even if they are not closely related to their disciplines. This will provide a broad overview of the different ways proposals can be written and offer different presentations of various proposal sections, such as budgets, timelines, glossaries or illustrations.

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Q. What if the budget for my project is larger than $500?

A. Some research projects are expensive and do cost more than the $500 allowed by the URCA Associate budget. Students are free to locate funding from other sources to complete their projects, but $500 is the maximum the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Program will fund per project. Sometimes students opt to put their $2400 award toward materials for their projects. If your project will require more than $500, it is very important that your proposed budget contain a clear explanation of how, when and where those extra funds will be secured!

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Q. How are the award and the equipment funds dispersed?

A. $1200 will be deposited in the student's Bursar's office account at the mid-point of each semester (fall and spring) of URCA participation. If a student carries a balance of greater than $1200 with the Bursar's office at that time, the award will go to reduce that amount. Students with a balance of less than $1200 will be given a check for the remainder of the amount. The award is dispersed at mid-semester so as to minimize any possible interference with the student's financial aid for the following semester. However, students are still required to successfully complete their URCA responsibilities until the end of the semester; should he or she not do this, the university will revoke the award. Although every attempt has been made to design this award so that it will not interfere with student aid, each student's financial situation is different, and it is simply impossible for us to guarantee that this award will not affect the student's financial aid. If a student is concerned, he or she should check with the financial aid department.

The student's equipment fund ($500) will be transferred to the faculty mentor's department. This typically won't occur until September of the fall URCA semester. The Associate and mentor will work with their departmental secretary to use these funds to purchase URCA-related equipment. Please do not purchase equipment before your funds are posted; reimbursement will likely not be possible!

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Q. Can I earn course or Senior Assignment credit for participating in the URCA Associate program?

A. Yes, as long as the faculty mentor's department supports this and has a mechanism in place for it. The responsibility of informing the student about registering in the appropriate courses, assigning an appropriate grade, and otherwise handling the administrations of senior assignment will fall to the faculty mentor. If the URCA activity is counted for course credit, the student must pay for those credit hours. There is no tuition waiver as a part of the URCA program!

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Q. What happens if I am unable to meet my URCA responsibilities?

A. If it becomes apparent that you're not performing your responsibilities appropriately, steps toward remediation will occur. If that fails to solve the problem, your position and your award will be revoked. If you were receiving course credit, you will be given an appropriate grade. Students who have had positions pulled will be ineligible to reapply for future URCA opportunities.

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Q. What happens if my faculty mentor is unable to continue the project with me after I have been selected to participate in the URCA as an Associate?

A. If another faculty member with expertise in the area of your project is available within your department, and if that faculty member agrees to take over the role of mentor for your project, then you may continue your project under the guidance of the new mentor. However, if no appropriate faculty member is available to provide the necessary guidance for your project, the project will be terminated.

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Q. To what extent will the University's copyright and patent policies apply to me as an URCA Associate if I am accepted into the program?

A. One provision of the Associate contract states that "Each Associate agrees to abide by the provisions of the University Patent and Copyright policy and any contractual obligation of the University to others with reference to discoveries, inventions, improvements, compositions or creations made, produced, developed, actually or constructively reduced to practice or perfected during the terms of the Award." While each case would need to be considered individually, it is important to note that SIUE does not claim ownership of intellectual property conceived through "Incidental Support" of the University. "Incidental Support" is defined as University aid that "does not exceed $7,500 for an individual's project either in actual funds or in salary for assigned time, or in both together" ( http://www.siue.edu/provost/fhb/8-5.shtml). Because support through the URCA program is considered "Incidental Support" as defined by this policy, the University will not claim a right to share in the results. In the event that a student's URCA research project is part of a faculty member's larger research program, it might be considered "University Sponsored Research." In the case of University sponsored research, faculty, students, and staff "have the responsibility of reporting to the proper University authorities any invention or development coming from University sponsored research that should be protected by patent or copyright" ( http://www.siue.edu/provost/fhb/8-5.shtml). Patentable inventions and copyrights will be individually evaluated through the University's Invention Disclosure process described on the Technology Transfer and Licensing web portal: http://www.siue.edu/research/techtransfer/index.shtml

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Q. What else should I know about the URCA Program?

A. Participation in the URCA Program as an Associate, Assistant, or Mentor is a privilege for both students and faculty. If a participant in the URCA Program is not meeting expectations in any area, either within or outside of the URCA Program (i.e. related or unrelated coursework, communication, institutional responsibilities and values, university activities, etc.), the individual's participation in the URCA Program may be affected.

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For more information on the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Program,
contact Dr. Laura Pawlow at 618-650-2608 or lpawlow@siue.edu.