Learning by Doing

Thanks to initiatives like The Center for Enhancing Undergraduate Research Experiences and Creative Activities (EURECA), students enrolled at Sam Houston State University know that learning, especially life-long learning, happens in the field, in the lab, across all corners of campus and halfway across the globe.

Established in 2013 to encourage undergraduate research, EURECA supports the culture of “learning by doing” through self-directed inquiry under the guidance and direct supervision of expert faculty. Students and mentors work side-by-side and collaborate as partners while exploring topics of interest. By becoming involved in research at the undergraduate level, students become producers, not only consumers, of knowledge.

Madhusudhan Choudhary, EURECA director and an associate professor for the Department of Biological Sciences, has been dedicated and fully engaged in undergraduate research for the past 12 years. During this time, he has mentored 70 students, many of which have completed their honors theses, presented posters and oral presentations at various state, regional, and national/international conferences, and have coauthored peer-reviewed publications in international journals.

Below, Choudhary provides his insight to EURECA and research in a Q&A:

Why is undergraduate research important?

Undergraduate research experience is an integral component for undergraduate education. This provides confidence to students in mastering core concepts of their chosen disciplines as well as helping to develop their critical thinking and collaborative skills. It also helps students grow faster into the next generation of young scientists and innovators, while also preparing them to identify their career goals early.

How are “research experiences” and “creative activities” directly related?

Scientific research is a creative activity. We employ scientific methodology to find out answers of outstanding questions in the field. This helps us to design new experimental tools, protocols, and applications. Inquiry based approaches always brings new ideas, new concepts, and allows us to discover emerging new technology.

How is EURECA funded and why should donors give to undergraduate research?

EURECA is funded by the university. EURECA provides FAST (Faculty and Student Team) Grants for summer research and travel funds to students for presenting their research at professional meetings. If you are really serious about preparing the next generation of scientists, funding for undergraduate research must come from public and private funding, including individual donors. We have opened an account called “Friends of EURECA” where faculty members, parents, and other individual donors can contribute in support of undergraduate research at SHSU.

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