January 15, 2004

Competition encourages student research, creativity

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Free money. Well, almost free. Southern Illinois University Carbondale undergraduate students who want to collect will have to make a poster or come up with a project idea, but winning posters could garner between $50 and $150, while projects could bring in as much as $1,500.

The money comes from REACH (Research-Enriched Academic Challenge), a six-year-old program administered by the University's Office of Research and Development Administration. Aiming to help undergraduates become scholars and artists, REACH annually sponsors the project competition and poster forum.

Student projects, undertaken with help from a faculty mentor, may involve research or creative activity. To take part in the awards contest, students must prepare proposals outlining what they want to do and who will help them; a faculty panel made up of representatives from each college will choose the winners. Students may pick up application packets from their departments or download them from the REACH Web site, http://www.siu.edu/%7ereach. The deadline for proposals is 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30.

The forum, now in its third year, features posters explaining student research projects and creative endeavors. While many entries arise from work done as REACH projects, the forum is open to all undergraduates, regardless of whether they received research awards. More details are available on the Web site. Interested students should send letters saying they want to take part to the ORDA office, C-206 in Woody Hall, by Feb. 6, with abstracts outlining the actual poster due Feb. 20.

Promoting excellence in undergraduate academics is one of the goals of Southern at 150, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it reaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.