Who is FOUR?

The University of Vermont Office of Fellowships, Opportunities, & Undergraduate Research (FOUR) provides a central location to find out more about research and creative activities available to all undergraduates and nationally competitive fellowships for all students past and present in search of nationally competitive fellowships.

FOUR provides a resource to help students find opportunities and information for pursuing a deeper learning experiences through fellowships, undergraduate research, and beyond. Opportunities for undergraduate research are extensive and limited only by your imagination. Research can be conducted independently, on a team, directed by a faculty member, within the university, or in an outside facility. Nationally Competitive Fellowships are available to all students and alumni of the University of Vermont and the office provides support as well as endorsements throughout the application processes. The Office maintains this website detailing resources from across campus and within FOUR. In addition, updated information regarding conferences, grants, and internships administered through this office is also be listed. Check out the contact page to find a time when you can come discuss how we can assist you in your quest to get involved.

Who is the FOUR here to serve?

The Office of Fellowships, Opportunities, & Undergraduate Research (FOUR) is here for any undergraduate interested in experiential learning through research. No matter which your discipline/field, there is an opportunity for you to partake in research. FOUR works with any and all undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni of the university with nationally-competitive fellowships applications. Many of our "Opportunities" are geared to any students of UVM as well. If you're unsure if a program is for you, contact us.

Does my major do research?

Yes! No matter what school or department at the University of Vermont, there are research opportunities just waiting for innovative students like yourself. If you are interested in finding faculty to work with, learn more about how to get started in research.

Why should I do undergraduate research?

The University of Vermont is one of the top-ranked small, public research institutions in the country. Our gifted faculty contributes enormously to their disciplines and to the lives of our students. Undergraduate research helps place our students in extremely valuable situations. You could have the opportunity to work closely with scholars who are experts in your interest area, gaining hands-on experience, receiving direct mentorship and building collegial relationships. Undergraduate research can make you look at terms and techniques learned in the classroom in a whole new way. You can build a very impressive resume and academic record, which will promote you to the graduate school, professional school, or position of your choice. Above all, you will learn about yourself, what interests you -and sometimes what does not. But always something to build towards your future. Below you will find a list of reasons you should be participating in undergraduate research:

  • Research leads to a deeper understanding of your chosen discipline's current practices.
  • It teaches creative problem solving and communication skills.
  • It allows you to apply concepts learned in the classroom to the real world.
  • Research challenges you to demonstrate the ability to finish a project.
  • Offers you the chance to work closely with a faculty mentor (this is great when it comes time for you to ask for letters of recommendation).
  • It allows you to build your resume while learning indepth skills you will be able to use in your life post-grad.
  • It helps you explore potential career paths and fields.
  • Research provides an introduction to how work is conducted in your discipline.
  • It gives you the chance to present your findings at local, regional, and national conferences.
  • It makes you a more competitive applicant to graduate and professional schools.

What is "undergraduate research"?

The Council on Undergraduate Research defines research as, "An inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline (www.cur.org)." The University of Vermont encourages students to pursue research opportunities -collaboratively, collectively, and individually -in their area of interest.  Research at all levels contributes to our understanding of our world, and encourages you to grow as a scholar and a person. Undergraduate research requires collaboration between students and faculty and engages the student in critical inquiry as well as exposes the student to the foundations of research and exploration in their chosen discipline. Research can culminate in numerous ways. Published manuscripts or oral presentations delivering the knowledge gained through the research experience to others in the academic community and to the community at large. Artistic projects, musical compositions, or theatrical presentations showcasing the creative endeavors of a student or students. Websites can be created, databases or models can be constructed, and posters can be exhibited. All of these enhance our knowledge and enrich our community. And of course, the Student Research Conference is held every April and offers a great opportunity for students to showcase their research and/or creative scholarship on the UVM stage. Below is a few of examples that have been done over the years through FOUR:

  • Writing sensory fiction in Montreal
  • Engineering and building a better shrimp trap on Lake Champlain
  • Measuring tooth crown size to determine ancient health patterns
  • Creating a forest inventory to teach legislators about forest ecosystems
  • Filming a documentary on student experiences at uvm
  • Surveying and analyzing Burlington residents' perceptions of the Burlington Police Department
  • Modeling sustainable tea tourism in Nepal
  • Studying literature by charting Woolf’s life through London
  • Being a team member striving for a common goal in a laboratory

Does FOUR maintain a list of research opportunities that are available?

FOUR serves as a resource for students at every step of the research process. We do not operate with a database of research opportunities but we can advise you on how to use the UVM website's faculty lists (within Departmental pages) as one. We are classified as a "high research activity" university and therefore all tenured (and tenure-track) faculty members on campus are participating in independent research and thereby contributing to their individual fields. What this means is that by searching through the departments that you are interested in you can explore what faculty are researching currently. When you stumble upon someone or multiple professors who are doing research of interest, contact that them with a well-informed and well-thought email asking if they are looking for help.

For more information, please see our tips on getting started in research.

How do I get credit for doing research?

This is usually handled by your major or research department. We suggest that you contact your faculty mentor/advisor and/or department chair for more information on how your department handles research credit.

Who are faculty researchers and what goes on in their work?

The faculty who invite undergraduates to join in their research, oversee and provide valuable mentoring and have dedicated themselves to the enrichment of the educational experience here. Research and creative activity are being performed throughout every part of campus, and opportunities abound for students from every discipline to get involved and gain more expertise in their chosen fields. To get a glimpse of the extraordinary work directed by our faculty, visit the web sites of those faculty we selected to highlight here. We will update this site from time to time in order to highlight many of our faculty on a rotating basis. You can also explore the home page of your major to find more information on faculty research and interests. See our undergraduate research resources for more information on finding a faculty mentor.

Whom do I contact and when?

There are a few ways to get in touch.

  1. Students who have narrowed down their interests should also speak to their advisor and/or to a faculty member in your area of interest aboutavailable opportunities.
  2. Drop by FOUR, hours vary by semester.

How much time do I have to commit?

By researching with faculty members, you are automatically working with someone who understands your workload. As such, no matter the amount of time you can commit, if you tell your mentor up front they will know what kind of dedication to expect from you. The average amount of time undergraduate researchers commit a week is between 5 and 10 hours – but you may not have time like that. Take a careful look at your schedule and then contact a professor with that number in mind.

I'm not doing a thesis, can I still do research?

Yes! We work closely with students that are pursuing both an Honors College degree and College Honors but we are not exclusively for those students. UVM is what is called a "Higher Research Activity" institution, this means that every faculty member with "professor" somewhere in their official title is making an original contribution to their field - be that through the lab, creative endevour, fieldwork, and beyond.

What is a nationally competitive fellowship or scholarship?

A fellowship is an opportunity for a student to receive financial support to help pursue their academic interests or passions more in depth. The fellowships listed on this website are nationally competitive opportunities; students around the country are applying for these awards, which are given out by the U.S. Government or non-profit foundations. Some fellowships offer opportunities to pursue research (often in graduate school) while others may provide funding for the last years of undergraduate education.

Is a nationally competitive fellowship right for me?

Good question. A nationally competitive fellowship is for high-achieving students who have big dreams and an idea of how they want to accomplish them; the only thing lacking is the means. It's also a unique and useful way to clarify personal, academic, or career goals.

Applying for a nationally competitive grant, scholarship or fellowship can be an in-depth, intense year-long process. Piling a personal statement or a research proposal on top of a heavy academic course load and extracurricular activities is not a challenge for the faint of heart. However, the process of applying for a fellowship usually directly coincides with work you need to be doing to prepare for graduate study anyway.

How do I apply for a nationally competitive fellowship?

It depends on what you're applying for. Check out UVM's List of some of the Fellowships and Scholarships to find a fellowship that fits into what you're working on. You should familiarize yourself with application requirements well in advance of deadlines. Applications sometimes require a "personal statement," a specific proposal for research or a course of study, one or more interviews, anywhere from three to eight letters of recommendation, as well as complicated biographical data forms.

Several fellowships require official institutional nomination and, for all of these, an initial application must be submitted to the Fellowships Office by a deadline that may be one month or more before the external deadline. The Fellowships Committee will review the applications and may interiew applicants as part of the internal selection process.

What is an internal application for a nationally competitive fellowship?

All fellowships requiring institutional nomination require you to submit an application for review by the Fellowships Committee. In some cases, the application you submit will be the full fellowship application; in other cases, you will not be required to complete all the official fellowship forms at the internal stage.

Do not think of the internal application as a "draft" application. Yes, you will have some limited time to make revisions before submitting the external application. But the internal application will form the basis of the Committee's evaluation of your candidacy. It is important that it represent your best work. Check spelling, capitalization, grammar, and sentence structure. The care that you put into your application shows.

You should also put some care and preparation into the campus interview if one is required. There is no need to dress up, but you should be neat and presentable. Review your application prior to the interview, and be prepared to elaborate on anything contained within it. As much as is possible, prepare orally: don't just think through answers to possible questions, actually say them! If you feel self-conscious talking to yourself, find a friend or professor to pose questions to you. Be prepared for unexpected questions: an unanticipated response to something in your application, something emerging from an article in the New York Times or The Economist, or anything else your interviewer chooses to ask. If you don't understand a question, don't be afraid to ask for clarification. Try to answer completely, but concisely. Don't fret over less than perfect answers; even very strong interviews may have a couple of rough spots. Nervousness is inevitable, but need not be debilitating.

Hannah '18 using her computer out in the snow while collecting data.

Hannah '18 Master's '20 began researching with Geology professor Paul Bierman during her undergraduate career. Now a master's student at UVM, she continues to work on this project that involves the storage of snow all year round. This venture could be a catalyst for the bolstering of our state's nordic ski economy. For videos of skiing in July, press coverage of their work, or learn more about the project; check out their website.


Connect with FOUR

Office of Fellowships, Opportunities, & Undergraduate Research (FOUR)
University Heights South, Suite 009
Burlington, VT 05405

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