Undergraduate Research Academy

Undergraduate Research Academy

About Us

The Undergraduate Research Academy encourages students to expand their education beyond the classroom through participation in research and creative projects mentored by UCCS faculty. The Academy objective is to support collaborative efforts between the student and faculty member, where both members benefit from the experience. Academy students act as research assistants on meaningful projects identified by their faculty mentor. Through this yearlong opportunity, the student gains valuable experience, while being paid, and the faculty member's research program goals are furthered. In addition to their research, students take part in a monthly seminar and professional development opportunities.

URA Student Success

Natalie Bondarchuk

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Amy Klocko

Natalie, a 2022 URA Cohort Member, focuses her research on DNA replication synthesis with the use of CRISPR by extracting apple tree DNA out of E-Coli. Bondarchuk grows colonies of E-Coli aiming to find deletions or inversions. 

Natalie is currently aiming to pursue a Masters degree in genetic counseling once she finishes her undergraduate with UCCS. 


Here's what Natalie had to say about being a part of the URA!

"If you are a first-year student, I encourage you to get out there and talk with your professors. Ask questions. If there is an interest you have, or a topic you want to learn about, there is always research or projects going on and clubs to join. Without asking, you could never discover what new opportunities have to offer."

"The most memorable part of working on this project has been being able to learn how to clone the DNA that was provided and insert it into the E-Coli. That was something I got to do this summer while being a part of the URA, and it was really cool to learn about other steps of my project I had not before."

Read more on Katie's research in her UCCS Communique Feature!

Katie Agenbroad

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Al-Shawaf and Dr. Weiskittle

Katie, a 2022 URA Cohort member, focuses her research on examining the topic of death and mortality through a variety of lenses. Agenbroad's primary focus is on researching death-related risk factors for different age and population groups with the intent of using that scientific knowledge to translate to tangible improvement in clinical interventions related to suicide and other death experiences. She is especially passionate about engaging in research that improves scientific understanding of and interventions available to under research and underserved populations. 

As of 2023, Katie Agenbraod has been accepted to the MS in Clinical Behavioral Health at MSU Denver and the MA in Research Methods and Statistics program at the University of Denver where she was offered a $20,000 scholarship!

Here's what Katie had to say about being a part of the URA! 

"This work has been invaluable in helping me prepare for graduate school. Graduate school is nothing if not competitive and being a part of the URA has given my CV a competitive edge to get into my desired programs. More importantly, my work as a research assistant has taught me skills that I need to be successful as I enter graduate-level research."

"If you are even considering working with a faculty mentor my biggest advice would be to do it! I truly cannot express how valuable my work as an undergraduate research assistant and my relationships with my faculty mentors have been for my undergraduate experience. The classes that I took for my major were wonderful, but it was in the lab and during experiences like the URA where I felt like I actually absorbed what I had learned as I had to apply it to real projects.

Working with my mentors also was a huge catalyst in refining what I wanted to do in my life after UCCS and I know if I hadn’t worked with them I would be leaving undergrad having missed out on discovering a path in psychology that I am so passionate about. I also would be leaving feeling far less prepared to pursue graduate education and a less competitive applicant to graduate programs. And most of all, I would have missed out on the amazing relationships I built with my faculty mentors. Working with them truly has been the highlight of my career at UCCS!"


Read more on Katie's research in her UCCS Communique Feature!

Audrey Fahland

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Emily Mooney

Audrey, a 2022 URA Cohort member, spent the summer researching conservation efforts of locally endangered vertebrates and bugs to collect or preserve for UCCS collection. Audrey was even able to spend some of the summer at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory to help develop Dr. Mooney's research! 

Here's what Audrey had to say about being a part of the URA!

"It’s a lot of work but it’s some of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. I’ve never felt so sure I was on the right path and where I needed to be. Research with a faculty advisor is a great way to see if the field you’re interested in is right for you.

The Undergraduate Research Academy encourages UCCS students to expand their education beyond the classroom through participation in research and creative projects while engaging in mentorship with UCCS faculty. The yearlong collaborative research projects further students’ professional and academic development while furthering faculty members’ research program goals."

Read more on Audrey's research in her UCCS Communique Feature!

Courtney Cowling
Women's and Ethnic Studies

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Tre Wentling

Courtney, a 2022 URA Cohort member, spent their summer researching with Dr. Wentling on understanding "Transgender Embodied States of Recognition," gaining research experience on data collection and analyzation. This experience has allowed Cowling to discover their own research question that they wished to study over the summer on how "positive and negative social interactions influence trans individuals’ physical embodiment." 

Here's what Courtney had to say about being a part of the URA!

"Overall, I found the funding from the URA to be greatly beneficial, personally. Moreover, I have high hopes my research will be a positive contribution to larger conversations regarding social interactions and its influence on embodiment practices among transgender individuals. I strongly urge WESTies, along with students enrolled in other majors, to explore the possibilities of acquiring URA funding. Not only does it allow one to have a more intimate understanding of and experience with research, it also funds research that may not otherwise be conducted at UCCS."

Make sure to check out their feature on the Women's and Ethnic Studies (WEST) page!

Madison Fox

Faculty Mentor: Dr. James Kovacs

Recent UCCS graduate and URA member of the 2021 cohort, Madison Fox has gone on to a fellowship in Bethesda, Maryland to conduct virology research on HIV and COVID-19 under Dr. Anthony Fauci. After this fellowship experience, she plans to pursue medical school.

She said of her time working with her faculty mentor: "Working under Dr. Kovacs has been an incredible experience, and learning from someone as smart as he is has taught me not only biochemistry lab techniques and bioengineering skills, but a new way of thinking, asking questions, and how I can go about answering these questions.".

Read more about her research experience with the URA and her special Commencement feature!

Hadeel Khammash
Biomedical Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Amy Klocko

Hadeel, a URA 2021 cohort member, took full advantage of her time here at UCCS. She in additional to working with Dr. Klocko on research, Hadeel started the Middle East and Northern African club (MENA), she volunteered as a peer mentor for GPS, and was the winner of the 2022 UCCS Student Achievement Award!

Her advice to students thinking about getting involved in research or creative works? "Reach out to a professor as soon as you can, because it is such a great and educational experience that I think everyone should take advantage of."

Check out her feature in the Communique on winning the 2022 UCCS Student Achievement Award and her experience working with Dr. Klocko as part of the URA!