“It’s really amazing, both the diversity and the quality of the research that our students are capable of.”

In the graduate programs, more than 134 students benefited from more than $3.9 million in stipends, tuition waivers and health benefits.

100 recent graduates from DU PhD programs have progressed to faculty positions at institutions around the nation and the world.

51 undergraduate students received summer research grants in 2018.

EVEN AS SHE WAS EMBROILED in details, dissections and statistics, DU junior Anne Bowen felt the gravity of her work.

“What we are doing hasn’t really been done before,” she explained. “With everything going on on our planet right now—all of the different environmental changes and conservation issues—this research is really important because it can have such a broad impact.”

Bowen is just one of many DU students on an academic quest for answers. The object of her fascination is crickets, as she conducts research aimed at discovering the effect of anthropogenic noise on the mating behavior and fitness of the insects.

At the 2018 Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Symposium, Bowen, a psychology major who also studies ecology and biodiversity, took home the prize for most impactful project. This work, she said, adds to our understanding of the effects of climate change.

Bowen and her fellow undergraduate researchers are aided by faculty mentors and funded by the University’s Undergraduate Research Center (URC), which co-sponsors the annual symposium. There, students share their findings, address questions from a curious audience and revel in the thrill of discovery.

The 2018 symposium saw 108 students from a broad range of disciplines presenting their work. “We had students from psychology doing studies on teen moms and how their mental state affected them and their babies,” said URC Director Mark Siemens. “Some students in history and international studies looked at movements in Argentina and issues of water in Kenya. We had some coming from biology, looking at different cellular processes and the effects of Alzheimer’s.”

As Siemens noted, the scope and depth of the projects were strikingly ambitious. “It’s PhD-level work these students are doing. It’s really amazing, both the diversity and the quality of the research that our students are capable of,” he said.

For students, the opportunity to confront issues and challenges proved empowering. “I got to talk to people about my research, which was really exciting because I love to share what I’m doing,” Bowen said. “It really brought everything together for me, and it was good to have a reminder of everything that goes into this.”

That feeling, said Robin Tinghitella, assistant professor in biology, can build a student up long after he or she has left DU. “The validation you get having other people get excited about what you do really does impact your belief that you can do this and you’re going to succeed,” said Tinghitella, who served as faculty mentor to Bowen and three other students. “It’s a great sendoff for students who are graduating to walk away feeling like they made a big difference and they did something real.”