MACON – Mercer University is one of three recipients of the worldwide Council on Undergraduate Research’s (CUR) Campus-Wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments (AURA).

The annual award, which recognizes institutions with exemplary programs that provide high-quality research experiences for undergraduates, will be formally presented during a virtual ceremony on April 21 as part of national Undergraduate Research Week.

Elon University and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse join Mercer in receiving the 2021 AURA.

“The 2021 AURA recipients reflect more than exemplary undergraduate research programs,” said CUR Executive Officer Lindsay Currie. “They demonstrate a dedication to the varying participation of students and disciplines, curriculum-based experiences, and opportunities for student-faculty recognition that even amongst this challenging and everchanging world, these universities exemplified steadfast commitment.”

Now in its seventh year, AURA draws on CUR’s Characteristics of Excellence in Undergraduate Research, which outline criteria for exceptional undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity programs. AURA winners must demonstrate depth and breadth in undergraduate research initiatives and evidence of continual innovation.

Mercer was recognized by CUR for providing high-quality research experiences for undergraduates through initiatives such as Research That Reaches Out and Mercer On Mission (pictured above in Greece).

“Undergraduate research is central to Mercer’s commitment to experiential learning, and we have a special focus on the integration of research and service,” said Mercer President William D. Underwood. “Initiatives such as Research That Reaches Out and Mercer On Mission have been key to the University’s significant expansion of undergraduate research over the last decade. We are grateful to the Council on Undergraduate Research for acknowledging Mercer as one of the country’s exemplary programs.”

With 51% of residential undergraduates participating in undergraduate research, Mercer exemplifies a robust undergraduate research program that spans the disciplines. The culture of service-based research, embedded in the University’s mission statement, was strengthened with the implementation of Research That Reaches Out, a curricular program that empowers students to address real-world problems through the integration of two high-impact practices: undergraduate research and service-learning.

“By providing early exposure to service-research, we ensure that our students are provided with the skills and experiences required to engage in sophisticated undergraduate research and creative activities. Research That Reaches Out, which is implemented through a scaffolded curriculum, empowers Mercer students to address real-world problems through service-focused research,” said Dr. Kathryn Kloepper, vice provost of engaged learning and associate professor of chemistry.

Founded in 1978, CUR is an organization of individual, institutional and affiliate members from around the world that share a focus on providing high-quality and collaborative undergraduate research, scholarly and creative activity opportunities for faculty and students.

More than 700 institutions and more than 13,000 individuals belong to CUR. CUR believes that faculty members enhance their teaching and contribution to society by remaining active in research and by involving undergraduates in research, and that students engaged in undergraduate research succeed in their studies and professional advancement.