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 email@example.com or give us a call at (616) 331-8100.
Meet the 2020-2021 OURS Student Ambassadors
Major: Cell & Molecular Biology
I am currently in my junior year at Grand Valley studying Cell & Molecular Biology with an Applied Statistics minor. My hobbies include baking, hanging out with friends, and going for long walks or bike rides around campus.
Before I was a student at Grand Valley, I never would have expected to become involved in a pivotal research project. Being involved in research and forming connections with faculty has changed the trajectory of my future career and my life. I received the P. Douglas Kindschi Undergraduate Research Fellowship in the Sciences for the 2019-2020 academic year and was later accepted into the Student Summer Scholars program for Summer 2020. Both of these experiences have played crucial roles in the development of my research abilities and interests. My current project is researching planarian behavior following RNA interference (RNAi) and injury. This project plays a vital role in identifying genes important for neural regeneration, which could provide insight to better understand human diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s Diseases.
Research gives me a passion to help others, as well as drives me to better myself as a scientist and person every day. While research might seem intimidating at first, it is a great way to learn and equip yourself with skills that will benefit you tremendously in your personal life and career. As an OURS Ambassador, I would love to share my research experience with others and help them find their passion. If you have any questions about research at Grand Valley, please reach out!
Major: Behavioral Neuroscience
Maria Isabel Sanchez-Rodriguez
I am currently in my senior 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. This past summer, my research focus shifted, and now study child maltreatment with Dr. Mary Bower Russa. Currently, I work for Dr. Smith’s Social Influence Lab as a research assistant and am continuing my research with Dr. Bower Russa.
As an Ambassador I want to help students perform or get involved in research. Undergraduate research is 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.
Major Concentration: Language and Literature
I am currently in my last year at GVSU, completing a double major in English Literature and Writing with a minor in Anthropology. I have a wide range of hobbies that include reading, writing, crochet, baking, hula hoop dance, and vintage video games.
I came to GVSU with the intention of studying narrative structure to be a better writer, and with the goal of continuing my education to become a librarian. My first summer here I participated in the Library Summer Scholars Program, creating a guide for students on Joseph Campbell's Monomyth, or Hero's Journey structure. Before I participated I wasn't certain what Academic Librarians did beyond assist with locating reading materials, but I learned through the program about the vast range of work they do. The most exciting part was the actual research.
Over the past 6 months I have participated in the McNair Scholars Program, researching the evolution of fairy tales and their memetic changes. Examining the gaps in the fairy tale of snow white has allowed me to ponder the role of these spaces in meaning-making, as well as their social and cultural relevance. This experience has shaped the way that I approach literature, as well as changed my trajectory and I am now hoping to pursue a PhD in Folklore Studies. My work with the mentorship I have received through both programs has been highly impactful and I am grateful for their continued support and insight.
As an ambassador I would like to encourage more humanities students to become involved in research. Before I found out about the Office of Undergraduate Research I wasn't aware that research was even an option, and I frequently hear echoes of that from my peers. Undergraduate research has changed who I am, encouraging me to think critically about who I am, the social factors that have contributed, and given me a place to belong in a community of freethinkers. If you are considering undergraduate research please feel free to reach out!
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):
- Academic Conference Fund (ACF)
- GVSU Library Summer Scholars Program
- Michigan Space Grant Consortium
- Student Summer Scholars (S3)
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