Columbia College Chicago

Liberal Arts and Sciences

The Undergraduate Research Mentorship Initiative gives Columbia's undergraduate students the opportunity to gain real-world experience and learn research and scholarly techniques.

Undergraduate Research Mentorship Initiative

The Undergraduate Research Mentorship Initiative (URMI) connects talented undergraduate students at Columbia who are interested in conducting academic research with faculty mentors involved in scholarly and research projects. You can earn up to three credit hours per semester.

The URMI gives Columbia's undergraduate students the opportunity to gain real-world experience and learn research and scholarly techniques from practitioners in academic and integrative disciplines based in the liberal arts and sciences. Even in a discipline different from your major at Columbia, the experience enhances your credentials as you enter professional fields or pursue higher academic degrees. Students also earn up to 3 credit hours per semester for their participation.

Since the URMI launched in 2008, students have partnered with faculty members to conduct URMI projects such as “Women and Modernism,” “Attitudes Toward Sex in the New Millennium,” “Interpreting in Religious Settings,” and “Models of Relativistic Gas,” among many others. Some projects reached beyond the undergraduate experience, for example:

  • Rian Lussier, an Art History major, researched the University of Chicago Archives of Amos Alonzo Stagg, the “Grand Old Man of Football.” Her researched helped shape a book project by Dr. Erin McCarthy.
  • Leonard Baker, a Television major, researched and contributed to the development of THE LIVING NEWS: SHELTER, a theatrical script led by Lisa DiFranza that examines the territory between the headlines and lives of homeless people living on Chicago’s streets and in its shelters.
  • Jenna Domeischel, an Art History major, researched bivalve fossils and even identified two species that were previously unknown in the Petrified Forest. Her research contributed to a presentation Dr. Robin Whatley delivered at conference. The URMI experience also helped lead Domeischel to continue her studies in the Master of Arts in Archaeology program at the University of Oklahoma.

If you have an idea for a research project, talk to your professor, who will work with you to submit your proposal to the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean's Office. If you don't have a professor in mind, or have other questions about the URMI, contact Interim Associate Dean Robin Whatley at

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