Author: Michael S. Springer, Ph.D.

Announcing the 2021-2022 Central Undergraduate Research Board

The Office of High-Impact Practices is pleased to introduce you to the 2021-2022 Central Undergraduate Research Board (CURB).UCO students on CURB serve as an advisory board for undergraduate research programs, and have been chosen for their research, creative, and scholarly activity experience and their vision for undergraduate research at UCO. Dr. Michael Springer, professor of History and Director of the Office of High-Impact Practices added “we are excited to work with this group of leaders, whose members have great ideas about how to support and expand undergraduate research opportunities at UCO.” Board members also serve as peer mentors, so if you want to learn more about opportunities please reach out to them.

Here are the 2021-2022 board members!


Prash Bajracharya (

I am a Junior in Economics major. This is my second year as a Research Assistant. Both of my research topics are relative to international trade. Through research, I have been able to explore topics that I am naturally interested in. Over my last two years here at UCO, it has helped me realize my passion for international development and global sustainability. Working on these research projects has not only helped me in my academic profile but has also been pivotal in defining my individuality.



Farnam Bassendeh (

My name is Farnam Bassandeh, I’m a data science major, my current research interest is in the realm of energy economics. I got involved in undergraduate research because I really enjoy applying my skills to help me deepen my understanding of subjects that I find interesting. Getting involved in undergraduate research helps me develop the skills I need to further my academic career and gives me a great opportunity to meet very interesting people.


Dakota Middick (

Hello! My name is Dakota Middick, and I am a Mechanical Engineering major. I love math, and am fascinated by computational applications therein. I got involved in undergraduate research to maximize my experience here at UCO and make new friends that share my same passions and interests. It’s been a blast, a challenge, and a blessing, and I hope every student finds their place for scholarly and creative pursuits in their collegiate careers!


Amarachukwu Oti (

Hello! My name is Amarachukwu Oti. I am a sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering with a minor in French. I have always been curious about regeneration and how different organs ‘heal’, so when I heard there was an opportunity to work with one of the professors on campus, I was more than happy to take the opportunity, and I am so glad I did. Working as a research assistant provides the opportunity to see a lot of in-class concepts in a practical setting. Research has made me more confident and has taught me how to think critically and seek solutions to problems actively. I have also acquired lab skills which will definitely come in handy as I go along. I’ve made great friends, and learned so much in a short time. I’m always grateful for all of it and look forward to helping others who are interested in research find what best suits them.


Faezeh Soltani (

Hello! My name is Faezeh Soltani but I go by Niloofar which means lotus in Persian! I am a junior majoring in biomedical science. I am an international student and UCO has been my second home since 2020 that I moved from Hungary to the US. I started my journey as an undergrad researcher at UCO by shadowing my mentor and learned a lot just from observing different experiences. I applied for the RCSA grant at the end of my sophomore year. This grant gave me an opportunity to be even more involved in research and work on my own research project. I enjoy doing research because it fosters my critical thinking and allows me to understand experiments better through hands-on experiences.


Kali Tevis (

Hi, I am Kali, and I am an International Business and Economics double major within the College of Business here at UCO. My first semester at UCO my Principles of Microeconomics instructor mentioned the RSCA Grant Program to students and, to be honest, I didn’t feel smart enough to consider it -even though it piqued my interest. As I gained more discipline-based knowledge and dove further into my studies I learned not only how compassionate the instructors are, but that I was smart enough! This has been an invaluable opportunity, one that I am thrilled to have had my instructors encourage me to take a part of. It has provided mentoring based experience, expanded, and fine-tuned research skills, and helped me begin to build a network among my fellow peers. Throughout my education at the university, I have had help and guidance from others and really feel as though I now have a knowledge base and experience to pass onto others and can pay it forward, that is why I got involved. I feel a bit silly not realizing I could have done this my first semester by simply asking for guidance! Studying bees is a bonus.😊


Hannah Tran (

I’m a biomedical sciences major with minors in chemistry and Spanish as well as a premed student with a goal to go to medical school and become a physician/surgeon. Besides the great importance research has to my path to medicine, I began undergraduate researching due to my interest in science, the discovery of the new, and how it can benefit the world. Through undergraduate research have I been able to experience a variety of different skills as well as work with various faculty mentors, with my current research working with cancer cells. It has been a life-changing experience and without undergraduate research, I would not have been able to become the person and student I am today, of which I owe my gratitude to undergraduate research for not only allowing me to improve my community, university, and the world but myself as well.

Fulbright Student Programs

The UCO deadline for Fulbright Student Programs applications is August 31, 2021.

The Fulbright Program has operated since 1946 and is among the most well-known academic exchange programs for US students and faculty. Funded by Congress and managed by the US State Department, its goal is to foster mutual understanding between the US and other countries.

The program operates in more than 160 countries, and each year approximately 8,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals are awarded opportunities to teach, study, or research abroad.

The Fulbright Student Programs offers two types of awards for American citizens.

Open Study/Research Awards – Applicants for these awards create their own projects and will typically work with advisers at foreign universities or other institutes of higher education. The Open Study/Research Awards are available in approximately 140 countries.

English Teaching Assistant Awards – The English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Programs place Fulbright recipients in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to the local English teachers. ETAs help teach English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. The age and academic level of the students varies by country, ranging from kindergarten to university level.

If you would like to learn more about these opportunities or learn how to submit an application, contact UCO’s Fulbright Student Program Advisor Michael S. Springer, Ph.D., Director of the Office of High-Impact Practices.


Join the Central Undergraduate Research Board

The Central Undergraduate Research Board (CURB) is a small group of student leaders on campus who serve as an advisory board promoting undergraduate research, creative, and scholarly activity at UCO. The board consists of 5-10 members representing the university’s five colleges, and works with the Office of High-Impact Practices to engage students and to plan for future growth in undergraduate research. Students from all disciplines are encouraged to apply.

CURB’s mission is to:

  • Promote undergraduate research, creative, and scholarly opportunities;
  • Collaborate with other student groups on campus to get the word out about research, creative, and scholarly opportunities and their benefits to students;
  • Contribute to the conversation about expanding opportunities to our diverse student body;
  • And provide a student voice to advise OHIP on student polices, practices, resources, and services

Undergraduate students can apply to serve on CURB through a nomination process. To nominate yourself or someone else, please send an email to Dr. Michael Springer, Director of the Office of High-Impact Practices at In the email, be sure to include the nominee’s name and answers to the following three questions.

  • Why do you think undergraduate research is important?
  • What would you like to do to promote undergraduate research experiences at UCO?
  • What does diversity, equity, and inclusion mean to you and why are these important in undergraduate research?

Students and faculty can nominate any undergraduate student to serve on the advisory board. The deadline to nominate is Friday, September 10, 2021. Students selected to serve on the board will be notified by Friday, September 17, 2021.

Benefits for advisory board members include a voice in decisions about undergraduate research programs, leadership opportunities, as well as network building and community outreach. It is a chance to impact undergraduate research, creative, and scholarly activities for other students at UCO.

Serving on the advisory board is a voluntary position, with an estimated time commitment of five hours per month. The term of appointment is for the academic year 2021-2022.

If you are interested, submit a nominating email to today!

Getting the most out of virtual conferences

students on a gymnasium floor walking around looking at research posters

The past year has brought many challenges as we have adapted to life during a pandemic. One significant change we have experienced is the shift from in-person conferences to virtual ones. Although virtual events lack the face-to-face interactions, they can be as informative, engaging, and rewarding as in-person events. Here are my tips for getting the most out of your virtual conference experience.

  1. Familiarize yourself with the platform before the conference begins. Many platforms exists, and they each have distinct features that allow you to participate in discussions, connect with conference participants, and to communicate with presenters. Knowing what you can do with the virtual platform will help you get the most out of the experience.
  2. Choose presentations, roundtable discussions, and poster sessions that interest you. Take a look at the schedule and plan your activities in advance so you don’t miss out. I recommend reading through the program before the conference begins and planning your schedule will allow you to find the sessions that excite you and make for a more engaging conference.
  3. If presenting at a virtual conference, be sure to practice with the platform before you present. Some conferences have begun adding in practice times for presenters, which can help you get accustomed to the platform and reduce the stress of virtual presentations.
  4. Minimize the disruptions in your environment. One challenge I have found with virtual conferences is that I can be distracted easily of the demands of work and home. Clear your schedule to allow you to focus on the conference. Turning off things like email notifications and using headphones have also helped me to reduce the distractions and allow me to concentrate on the presentations.
  5. Connect and engage with people. One key to immersing yourself in the conference is to connect with other participants through structured discussions, virtual meet-and-greets, or private messaging. Be sure to explore all of the methods conference organizers have set up for you to interact with other participants.

Virtual conferences are still a good place to share research, exchange ideas, and to learn. The platforms just require us to adapt to new ways of connecting and engaging, and with a little planning you can get the most out of your conference experience.

I would love to hear about your virtual conference experiences. Please share any tips you have learned in the comments below.

Oklahoma (Virtual) Research Day 2021 – Check it out!

Oklahoma Research Day (ORD) is an annual event showcasing cutting-edge student and faculty research conducted at the state’s colleges and universities. This year’s event is online and will run from March 5 until March 19. I invite you to check it out!

Below is helpful information to get started and to navigate the virtual ORD.

Event Launch/Go Live
ORD 2021 will launch on Friday, March 5 at midnight, and access to the event website will become available.

Navigating the site
Click the ORD 2021 link: to navigate the event’s Welcome Page. Participants may further navigate the site using three tabs (located at the top of the page): Welcome Page, Presentations, and Live Sessions.

Viewing presentations
Select the Presentations Tab to view ALL presentations.

Searching for presentations
Enter Keyword(s) or Author(s) in the Search Bar at the top of the page to search for specific presentations. Select Filters on the left side of the screen to find a specific Institution and/or Subject.
Click any presentation listing to view it full screen. Click the back arrow on the web browser (top left of screen) to return to the list of presentations.

Leaving comments for presentations
A Comments Box becomes accessible (bottom of the screen) once any presentation is opened. Type questions or comments about the presentation in the comments box and click the Post button.
Please note: Only registered participants may leave comments. Registering ensures that participants can view, comment, and receive responses. Participants will be notified if a presenter replies to a comment. Please restrict comments to positive, thoughtful feedback and engaging questions, and refrain from entering negative comments, threatening language, or harassment, as these will not be tolerated.

Viewing speakers’ remarks
Select the Live Sessions Tab to view presentations from Chancellor Glen Johnson and Executive Director of the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) Michael Carolina. These sessions were pre-recorded and will be available from event launch (Friday, March 5, 2021) until event closure (Friday, March 19, 2021). Sessions may be viewed an unlimited number of times.

For any issues navigating the platform, please feel free to contact event organizers at Cameron University at 580-581-2282 or at