OURS Student Ambassadors

Launched in the fall semester of 2014, the OURS Student Ambassador program allows former student scholars to continue their work with the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS). OURS Student Ambassadors represent the office by providing outreach and guidance to GVSU undergraduate students interested in getting involved in research opportunities. OURS Student Ambassadors have had a positive undergraduate research experience to share with others, and are dedicated to spreading the word about Undergraduate Research at Grand Valley State University. They also work with the OURS staff on improving outreach efforts and programming.

How Ambassadors Can Help You


  • Answer questions that you may have about the process of research, ranging from how to ask a research question to how to disseminate your research
  • Mentor you through the Student Summer Scholars program application and research process


  • Give a short presentation to your class or department about their experiences in research and the support that OURS can provide to GVSU students
  • Share their personal experiences and opinions on best practices regarding their direct collaboration with a faculty mentor


Request an Ambassador

To request an OURS Student Ambassador for a presentation, please fill out our online request form. If you have any questions, please email the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship at ours@gvsu.edu or give us a call at (616) 331-8100.

Submit Request

Meet the 2019-2020 OURS Student Ambassadors

Erin Fish

Contact: fishe@mail.gvsu.edu
Major: Biochemistry
Major: Spanish

Erin Fish

I am currently in my junior year at GVSU studying Biochemistry and Spanish. This upcoming year I will be applying to MD/PhD programs, where I hope to continue researching health issues, specifically those seen in underprivileged populations, and simultaneously translating that research by providing medical care to these populations. When I first came to Grand Valley, I, like many freshmen, began looking for my niche here. The summer after my freshman year I was awarded the opportunity to do research with Dr. Brad Wallar in his biochemistry lab doing structural analysis of novel β-lactamase inhibitors. By the end of that summer, I knew that I had found my passion in research! I am now currently part of the Beckman Scholars program, which has provided me with a more rigorous research experience to prepare me for the next step in my career.

Research at GVSU has provided me with not only a more challenging academic experience, but also a community and mentorship that has been pivotal in shaping me into the person I am today. It has played a huge role in determining my future career goals as well. I feel very grateful for the opportunity I had to start research so early in my undergraduate career and as an OURS ambassador, I hope I am able to guide students towards experiences similar to mine.

In addition to working in the lab, I love to spend my free time playing intramural sports and reading! I am currently a transitions leader, a member of the Pre-MD/PhD club and an Alternative Breaks participant. I also volunteer as a scribe at Exalta Health, a non-profit clinic. If you have any questions about research or career goals, please contact me!

Gage Paul

Contact: paulga@mail.gvsu.edu
Major: Biomedical Science
Major: Cell and Molecular Biology

Gage Paul

I am currently in my Senior year, pursuing a double major in Biomedical Science and Cell and Molecular Biology. My hobbies include reading, being outdoors, and playing the latest video games.

I came to Grand Valley State University (GVSU) not knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I bounced around several majors and imagined myself following different career paths, but could never find the one that I imagined I could follow for the rest of my life. The more that I took science and lab classes, the more that I realized that I loved being in a lab and pursuing research. In February of 2018, I was accepted into the Beckman Scholars Program (BSP) at GVSU. This allowed for me to pursue research with a new centralized focus. My current project researches the effects of a peptides ability to reduce the aggregation of a protein that is associated with Parkinson's Disease (PD). This research has changed my life and given me a new passion, something that I wish to be able to share with all undergraduate students.

I wish to be able to share my experience, and the path that I took, with everyone. During my time as an Ambassador, I want to be able to encourage students to pursue research and to propel the future of science. Research should be something that everyone experiences in their time as an undergraduate student. If there are any questions, about any of the programs offered here at GVSU, or ideas for undergraduate research, please feel free to contact me.

Maria Isabel Sanchez-Rodriguez

Contact: sanchem3@mail.gvsu.edu
Major: Psychology
Major: Behavioral Neuroscience

Maria Isabel Sanchez-Rodriguez

I am currently in my junior year, pursuing a double major in Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychology. I love being outdoors: whether it's hiking, fishing, camping, or just sitting on the grass, reading, hanging out with friends, and volunteering in my community.

Ever since I can remember it’s been my dream to become a doctor. When I was younger, I dreamt about going to college and receiving my MD, but after taking AP psychology in high school I knew that MD would switch to a Ph.D. Deciding on my major was never the hard part for me, but being a first-generation student and the first female in my family to attend college was. After my acceptance to Grand Valley State University, I knew all I had to do was follow my dreams.

During my sophomore year at Grand Valley State University, I worked in Dr. Christine M. Smith’s Social Influence Lab performing research. Dr. Smith and I decided to continue my lab work outside of her lab, under the REACH Scholar summer program. During REACH, we studied notions of the different perceptions of identity transitions. Currently, we, Dr. Smith and I, plan to develop further research in this area.

As an Ambassador I want to help students perform or get involved in research. Undergraduate research in an enriching experience that sometimes is not emphasized enough. I aim to help promote it further and help individuals understand the importance of research. I believe education is one of the greatest gifts we have, and I strive to help educate future generations. If you have any questions, ideas for future research would like more information about research here at GVSU please feel free to contact me.

Isabel Thompson

Contact: thompsis@mail.gvsu.edu
Major: Biology
Emphasis: Ecology and Evolution

Isabel Thompson

Isabel Thompson is a junior at Grand Valley studying cell and molecular biology. Although she has switched majors three times, she thinks this is “the one,” and plans on applying to the CMB dual bachelors/masters program this spring. Currently her research focuses on conservation and spatial genetics, but she hopes to transition toward the medical sciences and pursue research in gene regulation and molecular biology in the future. Isabel is passionate about both the sciences and the humanities, and in her free time loves reading poetry, yoga, and hammocking in the sun.

What Does an Ambassador Do?

An OURS Student Ambassador is responsible for the promotion of undergraduate research throughout GVSU and the larger West Michigan community (high schools, middle schools, prospective GVSU students). Ambassadors are tasked with increasing awareness of undergraduate opportunities at GVSU among their peers by presenting to groups of students, offering seminars and workshops, and being available to mentor students during the process of research. In doing so, Ambassadors will help interested students develop the skills needed to embark on undergraduate research, increase number of GVSU students that begin undergraduate research prior to their junior year, and increase attendance at the Undergraduate Research Fair, Student Scholars Day, and other events or programs coordinated by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship. More information can be found in the job description.

To be considered for an Undergraduate Research Ambassador position, a student must have been a recipient of a GVSU funded research award or program, including (but not limited to):

Being an Undergraduate Research Ambassador comes with a wide range of benefits, including:

  • Tuition grant of $250 per semester
  • Development of public speaking, communication, and marketing skills
  • Working with administrative staff, GVSU faculty, and students of all ages