University of California, San Diego


January 18, 2006


SUBJECT:    Undergraduate Research Assistants

Dear Colleagues:

I write to you as a fellow faculty member who has seen the positive effects of hands-on research on student satisfaction, career interests, and plans and preparation for graduate programs and doctoral degrees. Large numbers of our UCSD undergraduates have both the interests and capabilities to work closely with faculty on research projects. No other experience has been shown to have a greater impact on the quality of the student experience than undergraduate research guided by a faculty member.

I believe it is at the heart of our UCSD mission to provide as many of our undergraduates as possible with the kinds of stimulating and challenging research experiences that will sharpen their intellect, creativity, and perseverance. UCSD faculty members who have worked with students in special studies courses or structured research programs have the immense satisfaction of training the next generation of scholars and civic and industry leaders. Moreover, they often benefit directly from the insights, creativity, and dedication of some of the most talented undergraduate assistants in the nation.

I thank those of you who are currently participating as mentors in these enriching experiences, and encourage all faculty members to consider adding undergraduate research assistants to their research projects. An easy way to identify qualified undergraduates interested in research is to visit http://ugresearch.ucsd.edu, a newly developed Web site allowing UCSD faculty to quickly and conveniently post research opportunities and UCSD students to apply for them on-line.

More than 450 undergraduates have created accounts since the site’s opening during Fall Quarter. Here they can store transcripts, research papers, letters of recommendation, multimedia presentations, personal statements, and other materials to use in creating applications for research positions. A simple keyword search allows them to examine faculty-sponsored assistantships in their fields of interest. Once a student has identified a promising lead, he or she can apply for it instantly. This site holds great potential for facilitating faculty-student research partnerships.

On behalf of UCSD’s 200-plus regular faculty mentors, I thank you for your consideration and anticipate your participation in touching the lives and futures of our talented students through undergraduate research.

Marye Anne Fox