Research is more broadly defined than many students realize. It's generally understood that biology majors working in labs "do research." But so do psychology majors interning at hospitals, English majors plowing through archival documents, business majors examining market trends, and communications majors analyzing broadcast television. Any academic interest holds potential for research, and there are ample funds out there to help you carry out your project.
Research provides a plethora of intrinsic benefits: gathering and creating new knowledge, learning the methods of your field, exploring new ways of thinking, and entering your field's professional dialogue. But undergraduate research merits external rewards as well. It may make you more attractive to graduate schools, employers, and national fellowship committees, and it may provide you with professional and academic connections that last a lifetime.
Villanova University has an extensive community of researchers who have published various bodies of work across the disciplines that can be found in the Villanova Community Bibliography. A database of the entire published output of Villanova University's authors and researchers, the Community Bibliography is a great tool for undergraduate research students to search for faculty who are researching and publishing in their fields. In addition, it is a great celebration of the scholarship of Villanova University from 1842 to the present.
Keep this thought in mind as well: after you complete your research, there are abundant opportunities to share it with others. Publish your findings in an undergraduate journal, present them at a conference (the Honors Program sponsors trips to two such conferences each year), or submit them to a writing competition.
2012 Goldwater Scholar Ian Dardani
Ian Dardani ’13, a Villanova Presidential Scholar, is the recipient of the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. The Goldwater Foundation provides a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields. A Mechanical Engineering major and Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellow, Ian conducted research on the optimization of multiple-pipe gravity-driven water networks for cost and worked in the rural area of Alto Bayano, Panama for five weeks with a non-profit organization which carries out infrastructure projects in the region. In addition, Ian has been a leader in Engineering Without Borders as a Public Relations Director, President, and Panama Project Manager. Ian plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Fluid Mechanics and teach and conduct research in computational fluid dynamics and optimization.
A ME senior - William Albert - presented in the most important international conference in Materials Science and Nanotechnology
William (Billy) Albert, a senior Villanova student in Mechanical Engineering, had an oral presentation in MRS (Materials Research Society) 2011 Fall Meeting in Boston on December 1, 2011. “MRS has long been known as a ‘great meetings society’—serving as a major international stage for the examination of current and emerging materials research”. MRS Meeting is one of the most distinguished and largest meetings in Materials Science and Nanotechnology. MRS 2011 Fall Meeting hosted about 6,000 oral/poster presentations in 47 technical symposia. Billy presented in Symposium SS: Properties and Processes at the Nanoscale─ Nanomechanics of Material Behavior which is one largest symposium (about 80 oral and 120 poster presentations) in the Meeting. It is highly competitive to be selected as an MRS oral presenter, because most of them are internationally well-established researchers and their presentations have to be on leading-edge materials research with great impacts. To our best knowledge, Billy is the only undergraduate oral presenter in the symposium.
Right after Billy’s talk, several professors have approached us to express their congratulations to Billy’s talk, for example, Prof. Maarten P. de Boer from Carnegie Mellon University who is the session chair of the symposium and Dr. Robert J. Young, who is a distinguished professor and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in United Kingdom from University of Manchester. Both Prof. Boer and Prof. Young presented in the symposium on the same day. In fact, Dr. Young (FREng) said to Billy’s advisor - Prof. Gang Feng, “Is he (Billy) really an undergraduate? The talk is very impressive!”.
Billy’s oral presentation was on The Experimental and Theoretical Analysis of Characterizing Nanoparticles through Nanoindentation, which was based on his research conducted in 2011 summer under the guidance of Prof. Gang Feng in Mechanical Engineering. Billy is a Villanova Undergraduate Research Fellow (VURF) in 2010 and 2011, and the presented research is supported by Villanova Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. Billy is also awarded a Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship from the Department of Defense (DoD) in 2011. Billy is working on summarizing the presented research and will submit it to an international journal soon.