Undergraduate research gets boost at UNCP


Geology professor Dr. Lee Phillips was named associate director of undergraduate research at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Lee PhillipsDr. Phillips will promote the expansion of undergraduate research at the University and seek to establish a research council with representatives from each discipline. He will continue in his role as a member of the teaching faculty and maintain his dedication to the Department of Geology and Geography.

Dr. Jesse Peters is director of UNCP’s Center for Undergraduate Research and dean of the University Honors College.

“I am very pleased that Lee decided to accept this position,” Dr. Peters said. “He has personal experience engaging in research at the undergraduate level, and he understands how beneficial those endeavors can be for our students. I also think he will be an excellent liaison between the community and the university.”

Undergraduate research opportunities enhance academics at UNCP and expand student potential, Dr. Peters said.

“Supporting undergraduate research endeavors is a great way to support academics at UNCP; these opportunities will be open to all students, not just honors students,” Dr. Peters said. “With the right support, students can further develop their potential as scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, thinkers, and leaders. We want students to have the opportunity to see that learning takes place all the time, whether in a classroom or not. The Center for Undergraduate Research will help prepare our students for life after college, whether they choose to continue to graduate school or enter the job market immediately.”

Dr. Phillips said that a research experience as an undergraduate helped him find a career in science.

“I am the product of undergraduate research,” he said. “I was engaged in research as an undergraduate for two years while I attended UNC Wilmington, an experience I cannot speak highly enough about.”

As a graduate student at the University of Iowa, Dr. Phillips witnessed the value of the undergraduate research projects that he supported. Similarly, he would like to influence the undergraduate experience at UNCP.

In 2005, he led a group to Utah and Arizona to study the geology of the Colorado Plateau.

“I took nine students on a nine-day geology fieldtrip that was a wonderful experience for the students and for me,” Dr. Phillips said. “I have enjoyed my interaction with UNCP students in the classroom and outside. Next year, we will study the geography of New Mexico along the Rio Grande rift valley.”

There already is a fair amount of undergraduate research going on at UNCP, Dr. Phillips said.

“What we would like to do is connect students with faculty and research to funding sources,” he said. “We would like to expand opportunities across campus, from the sciences to the arts and humanities.”

Dr. Phillips would also enhance the visibility of research AT local, state and national venues.

“We will seek opportunities to present our research in a variety of settings, including the new North Carolina Symposium for Undergraduate Research,” he said. “Getting up in front of people is a unique experience that gives students confidence.”

Dr. Phillips primary focus will continue to be on teaching in his department, but he relishes the opportunity to serve the University in other ways.

“I believe in the value of undergraduate research and so does this University,” Dr. Phillips said. “This is an opportunity for me to take what I’ve learned and help make it happen for our students.”

For more information on undergraduate research at UNCP, please call 910.521.6195 or email honors@uncp.edu.