Women in a blue dress walking to the podium.
Brooke Morey walks to receive the Hanson Family Undergraduate Research Publication Award. (Jenevieve Bohmann/UC Davis)

Spring research awards recognize top students and mentors

Top student. Outstanding intellect. Remarkable work ethic. Most impressive undergraduate ever. These are just some of the descriptions faculty mentors provided in support of nominees for several 2024 Undergraduate Research Center spring research awards. 

Read more about the individual winners on the center’s awards web pages

Students interested in applying for these awards in the 2024-25 academic year can find updated information on the awards web page in fall.

The awards ceremony recognizes the Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Research and Mentoring Undergraduate Research, the Dean Keith Simonton Prize for Creativity in Undergraduate Research and the Hansen Family Undergraduate Research Publication Award.

 The chancellor’s awards were first introduced as a UC-wide initiative in 1994. Undergraduates are recognized for their impressive work of pursuing research, creating publications and participating in other creative activities. They also highlight the critical role of faculty, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students who mentor students throughout their journey.

The Hanson family established their award, focused on research publication, in 2016 and the Simonton Prizes — one for excellence in research and another for creativity in research — received funding in 2021. Endowments from the families fund both awards.

a student and two faculty mentors posing with a certificate.
Sarah Grimes, middle, with faculty supporters James Housefield, right, and Tim McNeil, left (Jenevieve Bohmann/UC Davis)

The June 4 ceremony honored 15 students for their unique research on a wide range of topics. One researcher utilized a national lacrosse video database to analyze injury rates due to missing eyewear. Another student implemented methods to make art museums more engaging for audiences ranging from children to adults. A third student designed a research proposal for an air-ambulance concept, transporting astronauts from the International Space Station in the event of a medical emergency.

Unlike many universities, where research opportunities are limited to graduate students, UC Davis provides a platform for all students to learn and conduct research. The Undergraduate Research Center supports undergraduate students in their research endeavors across all subject areas and class levels. Nearly 70% of undergraduates participate in research. Most awardees spoke about pursuing graduate degrees, with many crediting their opportunities at UC Davis as a catalyst.

 “I focused on studying ancient deer species in California because my passion areas are anthropology and archeology,” Brooke Morey said. “My research experience at UC Davis was instrumental in my acceptance to Indiana University, where I am pursuing a master’s in Egyptology this fall, funded by a USDA fellowship grant.”

The Undergraduate Research Center is a program in Undergraduate Education. It offers undergraduates interested in pursuing research at UC Davis various resources, funding and support throughout the year, culminating with the annual Undergraduate Research Conference, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference.

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