Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Valencia College has developed an undergraduate research initiative — based on nationally recognized models — that expands opportunities for students to partner meaningfully with faculty members to pursue a specific course of research. As most community colleges only offer undergraduate research as a very small boutique opportunity for a few students, Valencia has become a leader in community college research. Last year, hundreds of Valencia students worked in one or more modalities of research. This is vital for students exploring STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) -related professions through transfer, both to better discern their purpose and pathway, and to have experiences comparable to their peers at the university to which they transfer.
Student Morgan Frost may just have research in his genes.
“In a technical sense, my dad is an agricultural researcher, so exposure to the way he handles things and his work most likely had an influence on myself growing up,” he explained.
Morgan’s first research project was here at Valencia College as part of the Seneff Honors College. “As a part of the requirements,” he said, “honors students in the undergraduate track are to take an undergraduate research preparatory class, as well as complete a research project. If it were not for that, I might have not found myself doing this project.”
The focus of the research he conducted was on power and energy matters, focusing on the storage of power, comparing current popular uses with a less mature, yet promising rival.
“The report was not as technically oriented as some reports,” Morgan explained, “but rather presented a look at the current state of affairs in energy storage, pointing out that some technologies could be of great benefit given more research and usage.”
To Morgan, research is more than just performing experiments, reading through articles and writing long papers.
“It is more than just compiling what many others have said in a short cohesive narrative for some to read through,” he added. “To me, research is an opportunity to open doors to the next level of innovation or discovery. It is a way to either start conversations and investigations into new topics or to reignite an inquisitive look into subjects once thought to be closed matters. Overall, it is a way not just to do the initially mentioned tasks, but to apply them to our lives, engage others in the conversation and give a reason as to why we should take heed to these ideas.”
Morgan believes that research at the undergraduate level has helped him gain a glimpse into his future in an engineering profession, since research and development plays a major role in the field. The project, which was heavily supported by faculty, staff and librarians at the College, has also given him a better understanding of the tools and resources available to students and others looking to do more academically oriented work.
“I have also learned many skills involved in research such as how to find good resources, how to stay unbiased and academic in one’s work, how to properly compile written accounts and data into a cohesive narrative, and how to properly present your research to an audience, thanks to other opportunities that arose in my academic career,” he recounted. “I gained valuable knowledge and skills, all the while having a great time being engaged in something of value and worth, which is why I would recommend everyone participate in academic research opportunities as they arise.”
Morgan will graduate from Valencia this spring and will transfer to the University of Central Florida to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
To nominate a student doing great undergraduate research or for questions about Valencia’s undergraduate research initiative, contact Melonie Sexton, professor, psychology, and coordinator of undergraduate research, at UR@valenciacollege.edu or 407-299-5000, extension 5632.