News & Announcements
Feb. 9, 2024
Story by Ryan Gauthier
Undergraduate students in the College of Health Sciences engage in numerous research activities, getting hands-on experience with everything from language acquisition and health disparities to neuroscience and social support networks.
Carolyn Orbann, an associate teaching professor with the Department of Health Sciences, has been an integral part of the college’s research efforts. She has mentored numerous student researchers over the years, working with undergraduates to explore similarities and differences between the COVID-19 and 1918 flu pandemics.
Thanks to a new position, Dr. Orbann is poised to help shape the research experiences of all undergraduates within the college. She’s only a few weeks into a new role as faculty fellow for undergraduate research, but she is already working to bring together faculty members with aspiring undergraduate researchers.
“We have a lot of faculty who are doing research and a lot of students who are interested in getting involved with research,” Orbann said. “I think of this role as really connecting people — connecting the students to the faculty and the faculty to the students — and making sure that it’s a good fit for everyone.”
In addition to fostering those connections, Orbann will work to assess past and present research efforts, be a mentor for CHS students participating in research outside of the college, support faculty mentors and undergraduates in sharing their research products, and serve as a liaison to the Mizzou Office of Undergraduate Research.
Orbann said several barriers can prevent undergrads from getting involved in research, but one of the best ways to encourage undergraduate research is through more paid opportunities.
“We want to make sure that every population on campus has a chance to do research if they want to,” she said. “Even if there’s not money to pay them by the hour, it can be helpful to support conference travel or supplies or provide other financial support.”
On the faculty side, Orbann said it can be challenging for faculty members seeking tenure to commit a lot of extra time to mentoring undergraduates. The hope is to set up those mentoring relationships so it’s effective for everyone involved, particularly when students are brought on early in their academic journey.
“The nice thing about undergrads is if you get them early enough, you can actually have them for two or three years,” Orbann said. “We don’t want people coming in during their senior year to try to check off a box — we want those relationships to be meaningful and mutually beneficial.”
Orbann will work closely with CHS Senior Associate Dean Stephanie Reid-Arndt, who said she’s excited to put systems in place that will help undergraduate research flourish within the college.
“Dr. Orbann is already pretty active in supporting undergraduate research in addition to her own research and teaching efforts,” Dr. Reid-Arndt said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how she’ll help us grow opportunities for research for our undergraduate students.”
Orbann encouraged students and faculty members interested in collaborating on undergraduate research projects to contact her directly at email@example.com.