Expanding chances in research

Because of increased research funding at the University, students have more chances to get involved in research and seek educational growth outside the classroom.

Research funding at USF ballooned to more than $360 million for the 2007-2008 fiscal year, a 17 percent growth over the previous year, said Karen Holbrook, vice president of Research and Innovation.

“Increased research funding means more opportunities for students who want to be involved,” said Naomi Yavneh, director of Undergraduate Research.

Students can give a boost to their education and their resumes by participating in such projects, she said.

“(Research projects are) much more than just completing the class and getting an A,” Yavneh said. “It helps to be able to say you are actually working on a problem instead of just learning about it.”

Research can also help students decide if they are in the right field, Yavneh said.

“Doing research helps students realize what they want to do with their career,” she said. “It might make them change their track or it might help them discover what they really love.”

Most faculty members appreciate the opportunity to work with students and value their help, said Jason Rohr, a professor in the department of biology.

“Having students involved in the research allows us to accomplish more work than we would be able to otherwise,” he said.

Rohr received $364,414 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for his study on the effects of pesticides on freshwater ecosystems. Without these funds it would be almost impossible to conduct his research, he said. Eight to 10 students are involved with his research per semester.

About 1,000 students are involved in research at USF, but more might join if they realized it was for everyone and not just medical students, Yavneh said.

A senior majoring in communication sciences and disorders, Lauren Papke is trying to figure out what kind of research she wants to do, and said she realizes the importance of research for both herself and others.

“It’s important to have research activities on my resume, and the more we can learn through research the better we can help other people,” she said.

Students can get involved in research by contacting the Department of Undergraduate Research, located in the Honors College.

The department works with students to determine the best kind of research for them and then assists them through the process, Yavneh said.

Since 2003, research funding has increased by more than $70 million at USF, Holbrook said.

The increase in research funding is spread out across the University, but most went to medical and health research. The National Institute of Health awarded USF a total of $107.5 million this year — $45 million more than last year. Similarly, the College of Nursing has seen a 64 percent increase, according to a University press release.

The College of Arts and Sciences has seen an increase of 32 percent, which brings its total to $36.1 million for the fiscal year, the release stated.