Undergraduate Research Leaders

Undergraduate Research Leaders (URLs) are key members of the UROP team and serve as advocates for undergraduate research and creative scholarship at the University of Oregon. 

URLs are also available to advise students about getting involved in research and navigating the resources available to students on campus. 

Read the URL profiles and click “Schedule and Advising Appointment” to get in contact. 

Interested in being an Undergraduate Research Leader?

Cailan Feingold

Major: Biology          Academic Year: Junior          Faculty Mentor: Diana Libuda

How would you describe your research to friends that are not in your field?

I research the biological processes of meiosis and reproduction in the Libuda Lab. Specifically, the differences in the development of sperm versus eggs. My research pertains mainly to male infertility caused by heat.

More Q&A with Cailan

Who has been your mentor and how have they been helpful during your research experience?

My mentor is Cori Cahoon. She is a postdoctoral fellow in our lab, and she has been absolutely fundamental to my research. Both inside and outside of the lab she has helped me become a better scientist. Together we brainstorm ideas for our project and work together on carrying out experiments and analysis.

 

What has been one of the highlights of your research experience so far?

Presenting my poster at the Undergraduate Research Symposium was a great experience. It was a good opportunity to learn how to share my research with a wide audience and to learn from my peers involved in research as well. It was amazing to see how many types of research are occurring on our campus.

 

Students get involved in research through a variety of ways. How did you get your start?

I worked together with one of my Biology professors to reach out to the principal investigators of labs doing research I was interested in. I would read papers published by these labs and if their work appealed to me, I would email the principal investigator expressing my interest.

 

If you could do research in a different field, what would it be? Why?

I would do research in psychology, because I think the development of the mind and studying behavior is incredibly fascinating. I think it would be very enjoyable to study a topic within psychology like dreams, something that is often so hard to describe but universally experienced.

 

What is your favorite place on campus?

Autzen Stadium.

 

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Shoe Dog by Phil Knight.

 

How do you stay inspired and energized?

I am very passionate about health and fitness. I find that when I am in a rut, if I switch up my exercise routine, I can find new motivation easily. I love running and am currently training for my third marathon. A good run can also always help inspire me.

 

Have you thought about what you want to do after graduation?

I hope to attend medical school and become an Orthopedic Surgeon focusing on sports medicine.

 

What would you say is the greatest benefit of conducting research as an undergrad?

The connections it allows you to form with mentors and faculty. Working in a lab, for me, has created relationships that have helped me grow in so many ways as a student and a person. They have offered me valuable advice and support that has contributed to my successes both inside and outside of my academics.

 

What advice would you give a first-year student that wanted to get involved in research? How can they best prepare?

My best advice would be to talk to your professors and ask them for tips on how to get involved with research. Many professors have their own research going on and would love to have helping hands. Otherwise, they can point you in the direction of other faculty members who do. That is how I found my way into my lab, and I would have had no idea where to start without the advice of my biology professors I worked with.

The best way to prepare for working in research is to do background reading on the topic you are getting involved with, but also knowing it is okay to feel overwhelmed with the material in the beginning. Trying to orient yourself in the subject matter is a very important part of beginning to understand how research works and why you are doing the tasks that are part of your research.

Nora Kearns

Major: Human Physiology          Academic Year: Junior          Faculty Mentor: Calin Plesa

How would you describe your research to friends that are not in your field?

I work in two very different but equally exciting labs! I am a research assistant for Elinor Sullivan in her HPHY Behavioral Neuroscience lab. Elinor is the PI on the Prenatal Environment and Child Health study, which is looking at how such factors as metabolic state and inflammation in the in-uterine milieu influences child development.

I am also completing a Knight Undergraduate Scholarship with Calin Plesa in his bioengineering lab. My project is repurposing the minimal replication system of a bacteriophage as a tool for bioengineering. It’s been a super steep learning curve but I’m really enjoying it!

More Q&A with Nora

Who has been your mentor and how have they been helpful during your research experience?

I have been with Elinor Sullivan since the Spring of my Freshman year, and just recently started with Calin Plesa. Elinor has been an incredible teacher and supporter, always providing opportunities for me to gain autonomy as a researcher. I did a fellowship with her last summer and worked full time in her lab at OHSU. During that time she gave me specific projects and tasks that would build my skillset. From Elinor I have learned so much about the logistics of coordinating a large, longitudinal human research study.

Calin is teaching me new and valuable skills that are more relevant to the future I want to pursue in Biology. I’ve just started with him, but he’s a great teacher and very patient!

 

What has been one of the highlights of your research experience so far?

The best part of my involvement in research so far was being on the PEACH team at OHSU. I got to be a part of such an intelligent, compassionate, and driven group of women with a shared interest in maternal and infant health.   

 

Students get involved in research through a variety of ways. How did you get your start? 

I took a nutrition class with Elinor my Freshman year. During that time I read an article about her research. I expressed my interest to her and she asked that I send her my resume. The following term I started working in her lab, and then over the summer I volunteered in her lab at OHSU.

 

If you could do research in a different field, what would it be? Why?

I recently started work in a bioengineering lab, which I’m finding incredibly interesting. It’s such a new experience for me and I’m astounded by what can be accomplished with bioengineering.

 

What is your favorite place on campus?

Knight 221 is my favorite study spot – I’ve had lots of fun study sessions with friends in that room and I teach an Encore class in the room over (222), so 221 and 222 hold a special place in my heart!

 

What are you currently reading?

If I’m reading anything other than a paper or a textbook…it’s probably a recipe.

 

How do you stay inspired and energized?

I make time to exercise – even 30 minutes a day makes me feel so much better and more focused throughout the day.

 

Have you thought about what you want to do after graduation?

My current plan is to do a PhD in Developmental Biology and teach and do research at a research university.

 

What would you say is the greatest benefit of conducting research as an undergrad?

The greatest benefit for me has been the amount I’ve learned through reading literature and working with my mentors. I have this analogy that learning is like digging a well. We dig the well so that one day it’s full of important knowledge and skills that we can use to help and give to others. Everything we learn gets us closer to preparing that well for what we eventually want to do – whether that be medicine, research, teaching, etc.  But we can’t dig the well alone, and we can dig it so much faster with the help of mentors and when we are seeking learning opportunities outside of class.

 

What advice would you give a first-year student that wanted to get involved in research? How can they best prepare?

I would say just be proactive and start looking into research early. Contact a professor and express interest fall or winter term of your feshman year!

About Undergraduate Research Leaders

Responsibilities
  • Act as advocates for undergraduate research at the University of Oregon as well as UROP’s programs, services, and resources
  • Act as a peer mentor to undergraduate students interested in research
  • Attend monthly meetings with UROP staff
  • Act as evaluators for the spring UROP Mini-grant funding cycle
  • Give presentations at information sessions as well as by request from student groups, programs, and classes
  • Serve as volunteers at the Undergraduate Research Symposium
Benefits
  • Opportunity to positively impact the educational experience of your peers.
  • Learn how to coordinate a Mini-grant program (spring term) and evaluate research proposals. 
  • Outreach and leadership experience.
  • Engage in professional development workshops hosted by UROP staff.
  • Practice your public speaking by promoting undergraduate research to student groups.
  • Leadership experience for  your résumé and the opportunity for an excellent letter of recommendation.
  • Network with students, faculty, and staff on campus.
Eligibility
  • Current University of Oregon student.
  • Equivalent of one academic year of research experience (3 quarters) OR a full-time summer research experience.
  • Presented at the Undergraduate Research Symposium or other academic conference.

Apply to be an Undergraduate Research Leader.

Submit a résumé and cover letter that describes your interest and qualifications to urop@uoregon.edu

Applications are considered on a rolling basis.

For more information contact Karl Reasoner at urop@uoregon.edu or 541-346-8520.