UW La Crosse earns national award for undergraduate research

Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 6:28 PM CST
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - UW La Crosse is being nationally recognized for its undergraduate research opportunities.

UWL is one of three schools earning the 2021 Campus-Wide Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments (AURA).

The distinction comes from the Council on Undergraduate Research, which has given out the AURA award for the last seven years.

Campuses that receive the award demonstrate depth in undergraduate research initiatives, and display continual innovation.

Undergraduate Research Director Scott Cooper says UWL is continually expanding the scope of its research projects.

“We give out grants and students do work in all fields, in the humanities, in business,” Cooper explained. “We’re also getting more community-engaged projects, so where students are working on a project for a nonprofit, or a policy maker, or a local business.”

During the application process, UWL spotlighted one of its more unique research programs: the Eagle Apprenticeship Program.

High school students are recruited to be part of the program, and are paired with a mentor on a research project.

“Once you have a pretty solidified background on being in a lab setting, you’re able to take that and start working on you own project,” UWL senior Annie Panico said. “Obviously, freshman and sophomores haven’t taken that many science classes, they might not know all that much about the lab, but the idea is that once you’re done with the Eagle Apprenticeship Program, you can then go on and continue with your own research project.”

Panico was a participant in the program, and credits it with shaping her career path.

“Before I came here I wanted to go into forensics, so I obviously wanted to be in a lab setting,” Panico recalled. “I think doing my own research and being a part of the Eagle Apprenticeship Program, I really realized that I still want to be in a lab setting, but maybe not so much forensics, more of a research setting instead.”

Cooper hopes the award will boost awareness of UWL’s undergraduate research.

“We’d like to increase the participation, both of the student body in general, and also with first generation and underrepresented students,” Cooper added.

UWL will receive the award during a virtual ceremony on April 21.

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