Undergraduate Research: An Overview

The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education promotes undergraduate research on the Stony Brook campus through the Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities (URECA) program, a central point of contact for students and faculty engaged in research and creative endeavors. We provide summer stipend support to students doing full-time summer work with faculty mentors, support students presenting research at off-campus conferences, and host an annual campus-wide symposium to showcase student work. We publish an annual collection of undergraduate abstracts, and showcase outstanding undergraduate researchers through our “URECA Researcher of the Month” website feature.

To expand opportunities for students to work with faculty on research and scholarship, we also administer undergraduate research programs funded externally, from sources including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Simons Foundation. We also encourage students to seek out opportunities for undergraduate research at our partner institution, Brookhaven National Laboratories.

History: In 1987 SBU was one of the first research universities to establish a central office for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URECA) to promote undergraduate research.  Former SB president Dr. Shirley Strum Kenny chaired the Boyer Commission whose report, “Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America’s Research Universities” (1998), established a model for active learning and research experience.  Stony Brook’s practice of these ideas was recognized by its selection for one of ten NSF Recognition Awards for the Integration of Research and Education (RAIRE, 1997).

Research and discovery continue to be integrated into undergraduate experience: Stony Brook was one of 38 universities, and one of only 9 public universities, noted for the quality of its undergraduate research program in the 2011 U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges. Key to the success of the university's research program are the outstanding Stony Brook faculty who have experience and success in supervising undergraduates.


Initiatives relating to Undergraduate Research


Undergraduate Research & Scholarship Advising and Support
The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education is actively involved in publicizing and promoting the visibility of research/creative activities on campus, through the URECA program. We assist students with finding research opportunities on and off campus, as well as provide support for students applying for prestigious national scholarships, academic awards and recognitions.

Students involved in research include many of the highest-achieving students at Stony Brook –those receiving prestigious national scholarships, as well as SUNY Chancellor and Provost Awards for Student Excellence. An Institutional Self-Study (2004) submitted to Middle States Commission on Higher Education noted that “students who participate in research have a good experience and feel that it had long and short term value for them …”

Undergraduate Research Symposium
The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education sponsors a university-wide research symposium, which features an all day poster session where students present their work to faculty, each other and visitors. The Celebration of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities event was first launched as part of the RAIRE initiative in 1999; participation in the annual undergraduate symposium has increased steadily and now regularly features 200+ student projects.

High School Research Initiative
The Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education oversees the Simons Summer Research Program, an elite program that draws students both locally and nationally and provides the opportunity for high school students to engage in hands-on research in science, math or engineering at Stony Brook University. The Simons Fellows work with distinguished faculty mentors, learn laboratory techniques and tools, and become part of active research teams. Students participating in this program have returned to Stony Brook as undergraduates and participated in URECA.