Season 3 Episode 4

Supporting Undergraduate Research

Opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in research can be profoundly impactful for learning and mentorship experiences, while also providing opportunities for institutions to further scholarship and research in various fields (Adebisi, 2022; Blanton, 2008; Knight et al, 2021). While there are several ways for students to get involved in undergraduate research at Georgetown, many students are not aware of the opportunities; or if they are, they may not know how to get started. A recent study described undergraduate research as “a treasure trove that has yet to be fully tapped” (Adebisi, 2022).

In this episode of What We’re Learning About Learning, we spoke with Lauren Tuckley, Director for Georgetown’s Center for Research and Fellowships, who describes research experience as an undergraduate student “part of the hidden curriculum.” Faculty and students alike being aware of the research opportunities available at Georgetown can make this hidden curriculum more visible. We also spoke with Georgetown undergraduate students Zachariah John, Sarah Watson, and Dominic Pham who each share their takeaways from working in research positions.

Unsurprisingly, research suggests students who are more engaged in scholarly work have more confidence in their abilities to seek out information, which builds experience and confidence in situating themselves among academic discourse (Foster, 99). Formal research opportunities also expand student and faculty understandings of what community and collaboration can look like (Belanger et al.; Hensley, 12; Kilgo). Building on these ideas and findings, we asked Tuckley and the students the basics: what is research? And then, how does researching as an undergrad enrich the student experience?

Listen to the episode to find out how students and staff at Georgetown define and interrogate these questions, as well as a few other key takeaways:

  • Meaningful research and mentorship fosters a sense of belonging. (Belanger et al., 2020; Estrada et al., 2018)
  • There appears to be a mismatch between opportunities and opportunity awareness in undergraduate research.
  • Students are using their experiences researching alongside faculty to shape their careers after college.
  • Undergraduate research forms mentor relationships between faculty and students, and it leads them both in exciting new directions.

Georgetown offers programs, fellowships, and institutional infrastructure to encourage and support this undergraduate research. The Georgetown Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, also known as GUROP, is an application-based program which gives opportunities to students for employment alongside a professor, working with them on research over the course of one semester. Upon completion, GUROP recipients even receive a notation on their transcript. Beyond this campus office, there are research assistantships and fellowships across the university that students can apply for.

To take a deeper dive into the literature that has informed Georgetown’s undergraduate research programs, see our Georgetown Resources and Additional Research sections below. There, you’ll find resources on undergraduate research opportunities on campus, how students can sign up, and further scholarship on the topic discussed in this episode.

: : Transcript

Show Notes


Featured in this Episode

  • Lauren Tuckley, the director of the Center for Research and Fellowships
  • Zachariah John, a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service studying science technology and international affairs
  • Dominic Pham, a senior double majoring in biochemistry and comparative literature
  • Sarah Watson, a senior in the School of Foreign Service studying regional and comparative studies


Georgetown Resources

Additional Research

  • Adebisi, Yusuff Adebayo. “Undergraduate Students’ Involvement in Research: Values, Benefits, Barriers and Recommendations.” Annals of Medicine and Surgery, vol. 81, 2022, pp. 104384–104384,
  • Belanger, A. L., Joshi, M. P., Fuesting, M. A., Weisgram, E. S., Claypool, H. M., & Diekman, A. B. (2020). Putting Belonging in Context: Communal Affordances Signal Belonging in STEM. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 46(8), 1186–1204.
  • Blanton, Richard L., et al. Creating Effective Undergraduate Research Programs in Science : the Transformation from Student to Scientist. Teachers College Press, 2008.
  • Carpi, Anthony, et al. “Cultivating Minority Scientists: Undergraduate Research Increases Self‐efficacy and Career Ambitions for Underrepresented Students in STEM.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching, vol. 54, no. 2, 2017, pp. 169–94,
  • Estrada, M., Hernandez, P. R., & Schultz, P. W.. (2018). A Longitudinal Study of How Quality Mentorship and Research Experience Integrate Underrepresented Minorities into STEM Careers, CBE—Life Sciences Education, 17(1).
  • Foster, Nancy Fried. Studying Students : a Second Look. Edited by Nancy Fried Foster, Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association, 2013.
  • Hensley, Merinda Kaye, and Stephanie Davis-Kahl. Undergraduate Research and the Academic Librarian : Case Studies and Best Practices. Edited by Merinda Kaye Hensley and Stephanie Davis-Kahl, Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association, 2017.
  • Kilgo, C.A., Ezell Sheets, J.K. & Pascarella, E.T. (2015). The link between high-impact practices and student learning: some longitudinal evidence. High Educ, 69, 509–525.
  • Knight S.L., Hale R.L., Chisholm L.J., Moss P., Rolf C., Wenner L. Increasing student involvement in research: a collaborative approach between faculty and students. Int. J. Nurs. Educ. Scholarsh. 2021 Nov 3;(1):18. doi: 10.1515/ijnes-2021-0047. PMID: 3473193

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