Lourdes Echegoyen, Ph.D., will be joining the University of Texas at El Paso’s College of Science as the first director of the College Office of Undergraduate Research Initiatives (COURI) in September.
The position will eventually expand to include undergraduate research in all UTEP colleges, Echegoyen said.
“The primary purpose of her position is to help coordinate all of the undergraduate research activities in the college,” explained Anny Morrobel-Sosa, Ph.D., dean of the College of Science. Undergraduate research includes externally funded research coordinated by individual faculty members as well as UTEP courses that include research experiences. “(Echegoyen) will coordinate all of these activities with a focus on enhancing research opportunities and using that to leverage the best undergraduate experience for the students.”
Echegoyen is the global education and exchanges manager for the Office of International Activities at the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C. She coordinates a research exchange program for chemistry students in universities across the United States and in four European countries.
In her new position, she hopes to establish a college-wide (and eventually University-wide) undergraduate research symposium and an undergraduate research journal in the College of Science.
“As we grow, I also want?to provide more opportunities for undergraduates to not only conduct research on campus, but also to participate in research opportunities at other universities and abroad,” Echegoyen said in a news release.
Undergraduate science students often seek internships with large companies or national laboratories, and gaining laboratory and field research experience in their discipline will help prepare them for those opportunities, Morrobel-Sosa added.
“You can’t learn science without doing science,” she said. In the spring 2010 semester, 129 undergraduate students in the College of Science participated in research activities.
One of Echegoyen’s goals in her new position will be to start a college-wide undergraduate research symposium. Students will write proposals and compete for up to $5,000 to pursue their projects. The 10 winners will present their work at the symposium and will be given the opportunity to present at national conferences as well, Morrobel-Sosa said.