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UMaine Today Magazine


Nancy Hall

Title: Associate professor of communication sciences and disorders, and director of the Center for Undergraduate Research
Research focus: The interaction between language development and stuttering
Years with UMaine: 15
Milestones: Served on the National Joint Coordinating Committee on Evidence-Based Practice of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in 2004-05; named Distinguished Alumna in the Department of Communication at College of Wooster in 2003; and holds a national certificate in clinical competence in speech-language pathology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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UMaine Undergraduate Research

Question: What is the mission of the new Center for Undergraduate Research?

Answer: CUGR's primary mission is to facilitate and enhance research and research opportunities for undergraduates. Specifically, that translates into developing a database of research and creative projects at UMaine that are open to undergraduates, matching faculty and students by projects and interests, and getting the word out to students and academic advisers that the center is a resource.

Question: Why is undergraduate research and scholarship increasingly a priority at universities nationwide?

Answer: Institutions and employers recognize that the kinds of skills developed through research and endeavors of scholarship help make an individual more competitive. There's a clear push in the U.S. that if we want to compete globally, we need to start with our undergraduates. Large funding agencies and government agencies emphasize that students with early research experience develop better critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and stronger content knowledge.

Question: What can undergraduates get out of research and creative activity?

Answer: In research and scholarship, undergraduates hone their abilities to communicate and put ideas together, to organize and write, to investigate and ask questions. They learn to problem solve, using a variety of methods to find answers. For many students, research provides an opportunity for a mentor-mentee relationship different from that of teacher-student. In that context, the learning is invaluable. It's something I wish for all students.

Question: What's in it for faculty researchers?

Answer: Undergraduates often have a broader perspective, enthusiasm and energy that are ripe for explorations and learning. For me as a faculty member, the most incredible process to see is the evolution of learning by a student involved in research or creative experience. We're looking at tomorrow's scholars. The more we invest today, the better off we'll be.

Question: How will CUGR help grow undergraduate research at UMaine?

Answer: In the University of Maine Strategic Plan, advancing undergraduate research with CUGR's leadership is one of 12 objectives for the institution. CUGR builds on UMaine's strengths as the state's leading research university, taking advantage of the hundreds of faculty and graduate students involved in research and creative projects who can teach and mentor undergraduate researchers. It also looks at curriculum work, exploring how to include research-based activities in coursework, and campuswide events highlighting undergraduate research and scholarship. Already, there's a lot of undergraduate research going on across campus. CUGR is raising the visibility of undergraduate research and creative activity.

Question: How do you reach CUGR?

Answer: Contact CUGR director Nancy Hall and graduate assistant Anya Rose, or stop by the CUGR office, 124 Alumni Hall.


UMaine Today Magazine
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