Bauer Undergraduates Connect with Leading Faculty on Research Projects
Through a range of research mentorship opportunities at UH, Bauer undergraduate students work alongside experienced faculty, developing critical problem-solving skills, improving communication and strengthening their résumés with hands-on projects.
C. T. Bauer College of Business Associate Dean of Research and Marketing Professor Vanessa Patrick highlights three key benefits of undergraduate research:
Becoming a better problem solver: Students gain the confidence and creativity to crack the code in solving challenging, and even inscrutable, problems.
Improved communication: Students learn to streamline their thoughts and convey their ideas with passion and precision.
Better job market prospects: Research experience can enhance a student’s job portfolio to include more than grades and test scores. Talking about research experiences and learnings from doing hands-on research sets the student apart from others competing for the same job.
Bauer College Undergraduate Research Program →
Engaging undergraduate students in research under the mentorship of an experienced faculty member is of increasing importance in contemporary higher education.
But the students themselves may offer some of the most compelling arguments for undergraduate research.
Supply chain management major Crystal Gamboa came to Bauer after graduating from a high school just 1.5 miles from the Valero Refinery and the Houston Ship Channel. The significance of delving in to her first research project, “Making Oil Refineries Carbon-Free,” goes beyond the research skills she learned, Gamboa said.
“Before this experience, my thought of helping the community was to graduate and give back by community service or donations,” said Gamboa, whose research was made possible through the Houston Early Research Experience (HERE).
Before this experience, my thought of helping the community was to graduate and give back by community service or donations. However, this project gave me hope that there was something I could do during my time in college to actually grow and develop those around me.
Supply Chain Management Major
“However, this project gave me hope that there was something I could do during my time in college to actually grow and develop those around me. It helped me learn about action items I can do for my community, how Houston is dependent on the energy sector, and ways that we can research to find better and safer products to keep our energy economy running,” she said.
Gamboa’s faculty sponsor and mentor was Department of Decision & Information Sciences Professor of Practice, Emese Felvegi, who is also Director of Digital Learning at Bauer. Felvegi helped Gamboa and other students on her team hone important skills they will take forward in both their personal and professional lives.
“Doing the project taught me how to unravel a complex, big picture problem that doesn’t necessarily have the right answer,” Gamboa said.
In addition to HERE, undergraduate research projects are made possible at UH through initiatives like the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Scholarship (PURS), the Senior Honors Thesis, and the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.
Kota Nagase, a biology major, is a fashion enthusiast who chose to study ways that luxury Japanese fashion brands can expand and be successful in the U.S. market.
“I had an enormous interest in fashion marketing even before PURS, but through this research project, my interest skyrocketed,” he said.
“Knowing more about fashion marketing made me want to know more about it. The articles that my mentor sent me throughout my research project helped me keep on track with the latest topics of fashion marketing. Since fashion marketing is an ever changing and developing field, it was interesting for me to research and observe how the marketing has been affecting the field of fashion in many different ways.”
Patrick, who was Nagase’s adviser, said his experience is typical of the ways in which undergraduate research can help transform a student’s passion into a more precise professional path. In addition to channeling students’ natural curiosity, it opens doors for them to understand practical applications of research they can put to use in the workforce, and boosts their confidence in their ability to contribute professionally, she said.