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Biology to Pay Only for Summer UROPs

By Ray Hwang

The Department of Biology stopped paying students for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program projects during the academic year. The change, implemented at the beginning of the semester, forces students who want a biology UROP during the semester to take one for credit only.

"The biology department has limited funds to work with. We would like to use these funds to the best advantage possible," said Professor of Biology Gene M. Brown, biology UROP coordinator.

"However, if a student really needs financial support for a UROP during the academic year, we shall try to find the funds," Brown said.

"Summer UROPs are important because they allow students to pay attention to their research for a long period of time without the distraction of classes," said UROP Director Norma McGavern.

"I can understand how faculty may want to hold onto their funds during the term so that they can take on students in the summer when UROP credit isn't particularly attractive," McGavern said.

Biology is the only department to restrict semester UROPs to credit only, McGavern said.

Allows more summer funding

The department decided on the new policy in large part because they wanted to leave more money for summer UROPs, Brown said. "Most students would rather have this support during the summer and are pleased by this change," he said.

"Most students do not mind taking semester UROPs for credit" because the biology department requires credit in research experience, Brown said.

All biology majors are required to take a project laboratory, which can be satisfied by a for-credit UROP project. One effect of the changes will be to "promote the interest among students to take UROPs for credit in place of a project lab," said Susan Fitzgerald, administrative assistant in the department.

The changes will not affect freshman who have a credit limit because freshmen "are discouraged from taking UROPs because research in biology requires large blocks of time which freshmen do not have," Brown said.

"Professors are also reluctant to give freshmen UROPs because they lack the background required, in most cases," Brown said.

The cutback comes less than a year after new government regulations on overhead costs effectively doubled the cost of a for-pay UROP student. The new regulations took effect last July 1.