Undergraduate Research Program provides unique opportunities to College of Business students
A program at the UNI College of Business provides students the opportunity to enhance their analytical, research and professional skills – all while having plenty of fun along the way. The Undergraduate Research Program is a unique offering at the college, where students can receive funding, support and chances to present published research at national conferences.
Sponsored by faculty members, the program guides students from topic creation through conference presentations and publication. Funding, partially provided by the Dean’s Fund for Excellence, includes $750, any materials for research and potential travel costs for presenting at conferences.
“I’ve been here more than 20 years, and the College of Business has always provided generous support for students to explore research and presentation opportunities beyond campus,” said Lisa Jepsen, Robert James Waller Professor of Economics and a frequent faculty sponsor of the program. “These programs help our students develop crucial research and presentation skills, preparing them to succeed in business beyond UNI.”
Tristen Prouse (Economics ‘23) went through the experience herself. While studying economics and legal studies, Prouse remembers learning about innovation, patents and other intellectual property laws. That got her thinking: In the context of COVID-19, how can this intellectual property be used responsibly? She connected with Jepsen, her professor, and applied for the program. The result was her paper, “How to Not Save the World From COVID-19: The Dire Consequences of Giving Away the Vaccine Formula,” which was published in 2022.
Prouse’s biggest highlight was a trip to New York City to attend and present at the Issues in Political Economy Conference hosted by Elon University. Prouse credits the program and that trip with expanding her presentation skills and personal network while providing a boost to her resume.
“It was an absolutely incredible experience,” Prouse said. “My main takeaway was it was amazing being in such an intellectually stimulating environment, with so many students who cared about similar topics as much as I did. As passionate as I was about my research, they were just as passionate about theirs. And that was an incredible thing to share.”
Beyond networking with students and faculty and presenting to experts, Prouse and Jepsen were able to explore the city in their free time, taking in a Broadway show, going to the Museum of Modern Art and staying in Times Square. They even attended a conference reception at McGee’s Pub, famous as one of the main shooting locations for the hit show “How I Met Your Mother.”
“It was a great balance of conference and fun things,” Prouse said. “There are just so many things in the city that are famous or have some sort of cultural relevancy. There's so much history.”
Prouse said participating in the program was worth the time and effort, adding that the experience will leave a lasting impact for years.
“There are going to be opportunities you could never see,” Prouse said. “I certainly didn’t realize when I wrote the paper that I would go to New York to present it. If you have a passion for a topic, this is a great chance to share with the world with enthusiasm and make an impact.”
If you’re interested in learning more, visit the Undergraduate Research Program website.