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Number of Summer UROPs Down 60%

By David D. Hsu
News Editor

The number of Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program projects could drop by 60 percent compared with last summer, according to the UROP Office.

The decrease, which in large part results from changes last year in the federal rules that govern UROP, will be felt both by projects funded by sponsored research money and by the UROP Office.

The UROP Office has denied direct summer funding to more than 90 of the approximately 250 students who submitted proposals by the April 12 funding deadline, said Debbie H. Shoap, UROP staff associate. The total amount requested was more than double the summer UROP stipend budget, she said.

By contrast, last summer over 900 students held paying UROPs, about 600 of whom were funded completely from sponsored research funds.

Approximately 200 students last summer were funded with a combination of UROP and sponsored research funds. Last year's government regulations change restricts UROP from matching its own funds with faculty funds in this way.

The UROP Office has not yet released actual figures on this summer's budget. "It's ever varying, not something that's finite," Shoap said. The amount of funding from outside sources like the National Science Foundation is also still not definite, she said.

Departments like biology are finding UROP funding scarce. "We're trying our best to find support for as many students as we can," said Professor of Biology Gene M. Brown, UROP coordinator for the department. "Unfortunately, there isn't enough money to go around."

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Richard D. Thornton, EECS UROP coordinator, also expects the number of summer UROPs to "be down significantly," although numbers have not yet been tallied.

UROP is receiving donations from alumni, but "the money received all went into [UROP's] endowment, and we can't touch it," Shoap said.

The UROP Office has suggested that students lacking full funding pursue a part-time UROP. Students could then either seek another part-time UROP or other employment.

Increase in UROPs for credit

Some departments experienced an increase in for-credit UROPs for the spring term. However, spring UROP statistics have not been finalized because the total number of for-credit UROPs is not yet known, Shoap said.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering saw a jump in the number of students with credit UROPs from 33 to 55, according to the department.

Because of limited funding, the Department of Biology no longer offers paid UROPs during the fall and spring semesters. However, "we've had greater participation this term than any other term," Brown said.

The decreased funding "hasn't affected us that much," Brown said. One reason is that biology students can apply for credit UROPs that can be used toward their departmental laboratory requirement, he said.

Term biology UROPs will continue to be offered on a credit-only basis. "I don't think there will be any changes," Brown said.

UROP funding will still be tight in the fall. "You can expect for the fall term that it will probably be necessary for more students to consider doing UROP for credit," Shoap said.

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