First undergraduate research certificate in Canada approved at the U of A
The University of Alberta approved the first Canadian undergraduate research certificate from its Faculty of Science in late March. Developed by biological sciences professor Cynthia Paszkowski and undergraduate coordinator Dr. Maggie Haag (retired), the Research Certificate in Science (Biological Sciences) will be officially recognized on students’ transcripts.
By Kristy Condon on April 11, 2014
(Edmonton) - The University of Alberta approved the first Canadian undergraduate research certificate from its Faculty of Science in late March.
Developed by biological sciences professor Cynthia Paszkowski and undergraduate coordinator Dr. Maggie Haag (retired), the Research Certificate in Science (biological sciences) will be officially recognized on students’ transcripts. Certificate students will complete three research experiences, two technical skills and data analysis courses, and present their work at a conference.
“The certificate directs students through a series of project-based courses where they will work in an authentic environment within a research University, alongside graduate students, post-docs and professors,” explains Paszkowski. “This entire experience, not just individual courses, will be recognized on their transcripts via the certificate.”
The program will help to prepare students for continuing studies in professional and graduate schools, or for employment in industry or government. Currently, the only other research certificate embedded in an undergraduate degree program in North America is offered by the University of Pittsburgh in Life Sciences.
“Historically, many students have avoided courses with laboratories, and thus missed opportunities for active learning and hands-on experience,” says Paszkowski.
Students pursuing the U of A’s certificate program will not only be trained to think and act as scientists, but will also gain valuable transferable skills in organization, time and data management, collaboration, and written, visual and verbal communication. “My research experience has taught me invaluable skills that I can carry forward in any career in science, like how to allocate time and resources, as well as interacting with other people in academia,” says fourth-year biological sciences student Alexander Hopkins, who participated in undergraduate research during his studies. “The skills I’ve learned by doing hypothesis-driven research throughout my undergraduate degree will be valuable no matter what career path I might take.”
The certificate will encourage students to recognize research opportunities early in their undergraduate studies. “Modern science is research. [Students] will be mentored by scientists and have a genuine appreciation of the connection between teaching and research at the University of Alberta,” says Paszkowski.
The research certificate is available to all undergraduate students as a part of their BSc degree.