Incentives for student inquiry

Program provides funding and mentorship for students to pursue research projects

At UMD, undergraduate students have the chance to conduct hands-on research. The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) offers financial support and faculty mentoring to facilitate student success.

Nicole is pictured  (center) at a research presentation at an American Psychology Association convention along with graduate student Kelsey Dietrich and Assistant Professor Viann Nguyen-Feng.
Nicole Strumbel is pictured  (center) at a research presentation at an American Psychology Association convention along with graduate student Kelsey Dietrich and Assistant Professor Viann Nguyen-Feng. 

The program enlists faculty mentors to guide students through the research process and awards up to $1,800 for hours worked and up to $300 for project-related expenses. Students and their mentors come up with an array of project topics, often inspired by a student’s passion or personal experience.

Nicole Strumbel is a psychology and cognitive science major. Her UROP project was titled, “The Role of Interoception in One-on-One Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga Sessions.” The study examined trauma-sensitive yoga and the role of interoception (perception of one's internal body state) in mitigating post-traumatic stress.

Strumbel is continuing to gain practical experience as lab manager and undergraduate research assistant for UMD’s Mind-Body Trauma Care Lab, which “aims to bridge the disconnection between bodies and mind, particularly in the context of trauma-informed psychotherapeutic care.”

The UROP opportunity, “has opened the door for me to pursue post-graduate studies within psychology in the future," Strumbel says. "I’m grateful for the opportunity and look forward to continuing my research endeavors.“

Kendal Davis with her poster presentation
Kendal Davis and her poster presentation

Kendal Davis, a student in the exercise and rehabilitation sciences program and trained ballet dancer, chose to delve deeper into dance for her UROP project titled, “Effect of Visual Feedback on Ballet Technique and Body Placement Accuracy.” For her research, Davis “investigated the difference in accuracy of two specified movements when solely relying upon muscle memory, versus with the use of a mirror.”

The experience was powerful for her. "UROP was such a wonderful opportunity that taught me about the research process, and gave me the opportunity to complete research that I was passionate about,” Davis says, adding “It also looks great on grad school applications!"

Similarly, Megan Axberg calls her UROP “one of my highlights of college.” The senior is an exercise and rehabilitation sciences major with plans to become a physical therapist.

Megan Axberg measuring lactate threshold
Megan Axberg measuring the lactate threshold of her teammate.

“I was able to dive further into a subject of my degree that I had a huge passion for—women athletes,” Axberg says. Her experience as an athlete helped to spark her project, “Quantifying Metabolic Demand of Different Positions in Women’s College Lacrosse,” which she presented at the National Academy of Sports Medicine conference in South Dakota.

During the course of the study, Axberg measured her teammate’s lactate threshold. “Lactate threshold is a great indication of showing how hard the body is working from a metabolic perspective. It helps us see the type of energy they are consuming to help us indicate the level of exertion they are experiencing,” she explains.

Axberg encourages other students to participate in UROP and touts the program’s benefits. “It helped me understand class concepts easier, as well as have research experience to help me get into grad school!” she says, noting, “It was such a great opportunity, anyone that can most definitely do this once-in-a-lifetime experience that you get paid to do!!!”

The next UROP application deadline date is Monday, October 9, 2023 for Spring 2024 semester projects. More information:

Feature photo at top is Megan Axberg presenting at the spring UROP showcase with her friends/supporters.