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Become a USOAR Mentor

Undergraduate Student Opportunities in Academic Research (USOAR)
Call for Faculty Mentors

Every spring we seek 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 Office of Undergraduate Research. Interested faculty members should read the information and guidelines below and complete a position description form by May 31st to be considered as a mentor for the following academic year. The link to submit a position description form can be found below (How do I participate?).

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 open to Federal work-study eligible students

How do I participate?

Interested faculty members should read the commitments and guidelines below and complete the position description form by May 31st to be considered a mentor for the subsequent academic year.

What are my commitments?

When classes begin in Fall 2020, you will interview a small number of students that have applied to your position and select the student who will be assigned to you as a mentee. Faculty mentors must agree to the guidelines below.

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 2020-21 academic year. This includes the following:

  • 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:
    • 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.
    • Data collection: When including students in data collection is not feasible, efforts should be made to ensure students understand how the data is collected.
    • Coding or analyzing data: Students may be able to conduct basic analyses.
    • Writing: Students could assist in the writing a section of a paper, abstract, or conference proposal.
    • Evaluating Literature:  Students may be asked to conduct an appraisal or evaluation of published research article(s) in the subfield.
    • Research Meetings: Participating in research meetings with faculty, staff, graduate students, and other undergraduates who are involved in the research project.
    • Presenting on Research: This might include presenting on the work they have accomplished that week during a group meeting. 
  • Building interpersonal respect and trust with the USOAR student by:
    • 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 month including to complete a student/mentor contract.
    • Creating an open environment for questions and informal conversation.
    • Cultivating approachability and patience.
    • Be sensitive to the changing needs of the student through the research process.
  • Promoting shared power by going beyond advice-giving and knowledge-dispensing.  Offer responses to remind students that the work is their own even when the student is assisting with your research, be clear about their distinct roles. 
  • Communicating with the USOAR Program administrators regarding the fit with the student, especially if any concerns.
  • Providing precise/direct and timely feedback and support to students for USOAR course deliverables. These include a 2-page project proposal on a topic related to their research at the end of the Fall semester and an original 10-minute talk or poster presentation on their research project or topic at the end of the Spring semester. Their proposal and presentation may focus on their research project with their faculty mentor, OR their contributions to their faculty mentor’s research.
  • Attending the Undergraduate Research Symposium, and encouraging other faculty, staff, and students involved with the student to attend.
  • Completing a midyear and end of year evaluation of the student’s progress toward the learning outcomes and mentorship experience. 
  • If applicable, coordinating the research project and mentoring process with any U.Va graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, or research staff, who will serve as a delegated mentor for the student throughout the academic year. The role of the delegated mentor is as follows: 
    • Provide mentoring support in conjunction/collaboration with the faculty mentor to support the USOAR student intellectually and professionally through their research goals.
    • Serve as a resource to help student complete daily tasks and research objectives. 
    • Delegated mentors will not take the place of the faculty mentor, but will be a resource for the USOAR student. 

What does the program provide?

We will post your position description to the Office of Undergraduate Research 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. In early August, the USOAR program administrators will provide you with the applicants for your position to review. Student wages will be funded 100% through a combination of Federal Work Study funds and supplemental funding provided by the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR). The OUR 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 2020, we will organize an Undergraduate Research Symposium that will showcase student work.


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



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