2019 AURA Awardees: Bridgewater State University, Florida State University, Occidental College

CUR Honors 2019 Recipients of the Campus-Wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments







CUR will present its 2019 Campus-Wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments (AURA) to Bridgewater State University (BSU, Bridgewater, MA), Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL), and Occidental College (Los Angeles, CA) on January 24, 2020, at the CUR Executive Board reception during the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges & Universities in Washington, DC. This annual award recognizes institutions with exemplary programs that provide high-quality research experiences for undergraduates.

Now in its fifth year, the AURA award draws on CUR’s Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research (COEUR), which outlines criteria for exceptional undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity programs. For AURA recognition, campuses must demonstrate depth and breadth in their undergraduate research initiatives and evidence of continual innovation. As all types of higher education institutions can be nominated for the AURA awards, the 2019 awardees reflect different Carnegie classifications.

“The 2019 AURA recipients demonstrate a dedication to diversity of undergraduates and academic fields, dissemination of student research, attention to essential support services, and continual assessment,” said CUR’s Executive Officer Lindsay Currie and president Janice DeCosmo (University of Washington). “CUR salutes these higher education institutions for their commitment to excellence in undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry on their campuses.”

BSU displays depth and breadth in undergraduate research in its commitment to a strong, comprehensive research program, as well as ongoing collection and analysis of data on student researchers’ persistence in their studies. Its emphasis on diversity and inclusion is indicated through research experiences available to every student population and the establishment of noncompetitive student travel awards. The BSU research symposium may serve as a model for other institutions, and its faculty compensation regardless of the type of research conducted is a strength.

Said BSU President Frederick W. Clark Jr., “I am very proud of our undergraduate research program, which has been a major driver of student success on our campus. We have made sustained investments in the program for 20 years and embedded undergraduate research across the curriculum, so students in management and English participate as well as students in physics and chemistry. Most importantly, undergraduate research aligns with our core values of providing all students with access to high- impact practices. I am deeply grateful to Dr. Jenny Shanahan, our assistant provost for transformative learning, and our faculty for their commitment to making BSU the best undergraduate research program in the nation.”

Florida State’s research-supportive environment has resulted in strong growth in undergraduate research participation. The university’s commitment to data collection and analysis presents clear evidence of the expansion of undergraduate research experiences in the last five years. The Florida State Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program’s “early and often” involvement approach can serve as a model for other large higher education institutions.

Said Karen Laughlin, dean of undergraduate studies at Florida State, “We’re extremely proud of the many ways our undergraduates are connecting and contributing to the research mission of Florida State University. Their important work wouldn’t be possible without our dedicated faculty mentors and Center for Undergraduate Research and Academic Engagement staff. So much work has been done to ensure broad participation in research and creative activity across the Florida State campus, and it is a wonderful honor to receive this recognition from the Council on Undergraduate Research.”

Occidental College’s robust undergraduate research effort permeates campus culture with evidence of substantive institutional commitment and active student engagement. The institution’s student researchers come from a wide range of disciplines and socioeconomic backgrounds. Forty percent of student participants in Occidental’s summer research program are from nonscience departments, demonstrating a dedication to undergraduate research access across the academic spectrum.

Said Wendy Sternberg, Occidental’s vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, “We are honored to receive the prestigious AURA award, which arrives as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Occidental’s Undergraduate Research Center. Our students don’t wait until they graduate to make original intellectual and creative contributions to their disciplines. Whether it’s for a class, a senior comprehensive project, a Richter overseas fellowship, or as a participant in our Summer Research Program, student research is a hallmark of an Oxy education.”


Founded in 1978, the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) is an organization of individual, institutional, and affiliate members from around the world that share a focus on providing high-quality and collaborative undergraduate research, scholarly, and creative activity opportunities for faculty and students. More than 700 institutions and more than 13,000 individuals belong to CUR. CUR believes that faculty members enhance their teaching and contribution to society by remaining active in research and by involving undergraduates in research, and that students engaged in undergraduate research succeed in their studies and professional advancement.

Bridgewater State University, the first permanently sited institution dedicated to the preparation of teachers in Massachusetts, has grown to become the largest state university in the Massachusetts public higher education system as well as the 10th largest college or university, public or private, overall in the state, with approximately 11,000 graduate and undergraduate students. The comprehensive state university in southeastern Massachusetts, BSU annually graduates 2,500 students in majors ranging from business to education to humanities to the sciences.

Located in the capital city of Tallahassee, Florida State University is one of the top public universities in the world and is proud to be recognized as a preeminent university by the state of Florida. Designated as a Carnegie Research University (very high research activity), Florida State offers nearly 300 undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs, including medicine and law. The diverse and highly talented student body of 42,000 is selected from all 50 states and more than 130 countries.

Founded in 1887, Occidental College fully integrates the liberal arts and sciences with the cultural and intellectual resources of one of the world’s great cities. Located in Los Angeles, Occidental’s reputation for academic rigor, an inclusive and collaborative culture, and unique offerings that include Campaign Semester and the Kahane United Nations Program, attract a diverse and globally oriented student body. Occidental’s 2,000 students pursue an interdisciplinary curriculum with 44 majors and minors taught by an outstanding faculty whose teaching is informed by their research.


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