Dean’s Prize Highlights Excellence at UCLA Undergraduate Research & Creativity Showcase

The Undergraduate Research Centers for Sciences and for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences hosted the 11th annual Undergraduate Research Week in May. More than 1,600 students presented their innovative and impactful work at UCLA’s largest undergraduate conference this week.


The Dean’s Prize for Excellence in Research and Creative Inquiry is awarded to students for outstanding presentations at the Undergraduate Research & Creativity Showcase. This award identifies students who exemplify excellence in presentation of their faculty-mentored research.


“Winning the Dean’s Prize for Excellence in Research and Creative Inquiry is a testament to the incredible dedication and hard work that UCLA student researchers put into their projects,” said Tama Hasson, assistant vice provost for undergraduate research and director of the Undergraduate Research Center – Sciences. “Their commitment and passion are truly inspiring and exemplify the best of what undergraduate research can achieve.”


Undergraduate research also requires commitment from faculty mentors who support undergraduates as they complete their research projects. The Faculty Mentor Award honors the considerable dedication of UCLA faculty who consistently and enthusiastically serve as effective mentors to undergraduate students involved in research or creative inquiry. Faculty are nominated by undergraduate students they supported in their research or creative practice and professional development.


For a full list of the Dean’s Prize and Faculty Mentor Award winners visit the Undergraduate Research Week website.

UCLA Undergraduates Advocate for Humanities, Arts and Social Science Research Opportunities

Undergraduate research opportunities can be transformative for students. But there are disparities in funding and mentorship across disciplines – more students complete research in the sciences than the humanities, arts, and social sciences. During the 2021-22 academic year 21% of total faculty-mentored undergraduate research enrollments at UCLA were in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.


UCLA students selected to the Scholars Transforming Through Research Program (STR) aimed to address this disparity. The STR program, run by the Council on Undergraduate Research and with training support through the Scholars Strategy Network, provides a platform for student scholars and faculty to advocate for the significance of undergraduate research opportunities. Three UCLA undergraduates – Madison Lee, Citlali Tejeda, and Taylor Gomez-Douglas – participated in the program, including an advocacy trip to Washington, D.C.


Students engaged with education aides from the offices of Senator Alex Padilla, Congressman Ted Lieu, and Congresswoman Nanette Barragán. Lee, Tejeda and Gomez-Douglas highlighted the importance of expanding research opportunities, particularly in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, drawing attention to UCLA’s unique Undergraduate Research Center for these disciplines.


“Meeting with Congresswoman Barragán’s office was such a memorable experience,” reflected Tejeda, a third-year Public Affairs student. “She is my Congresswoman. It was cool to see my district represented in Washington D.C. Our legislative visit was even more exciting because I was able to advocate for undergraduate research opportunities in the humanities, which is something I really believe in.”


Lee, a fourth-year Sociology major at UCLA, underscores the significance of undergraduate research in these fields. Through her own research on faculty willingness to mentor undergraduates, Lee discovered the transformative impact of scholarly inquiry. “Undergraduate research in the humanities, arts, and social sciences is shown to be very important,” she explains. “It allows students to develop high-impact skills, better preparing them for jobs. It can also help students develop a better sense of self and build confidence in their skills.”


The lack of financial support and resources for student researchers and potential faculty mentors in the humanities, arts, and social sciences can act as a barrier, hindering students’ ability to pursue independent projects and fully explore their scholarly interests. Research programs – such as those offered by UCLA’s Undergraduate Research Centers and Academic Advancement Program – provide scholarships and structure to empower students to conduct research and support faculty, but more can be done at UCLA and on a national level to provide funded programs across all fields and incentives for faculty mentorship and research-integrated course development.


Reflecting on her experience, Lee shares, “I never thought that I would be working on my own project, so it’s been very empowering for me. Before this I knew I liked research, but I didn’t think I could do it myself. Now I’m considering doing education research later in my life.”


Lee and Gomez-Douglass will also present their research at Undergraduate Research Week which takes place May 20-24


Learn more about opportunities to support Undergraduate Research at UCLA.

Disability Studies Sports and Society Lab Hosts Inaugural Rec Day Event

The Disability Studies Sports and Society Lab hosted a Takkyu Volley Rec Day earlier this month. This marks the inaugural event for the Rec Day Series, hosted in collaboration with UCLA Recreation and Adaptive Recreation Programs.

Takkyu Volley, a universal sport invented in Japan, is designed to be inclusive so those of all ages and levels of ability can play and compete. Endorsed by the Takkyu Volley Federation, this event was the U.S. premiere of the sport. Mi and Yu Hasegawa, a mother daughter duo who are both Takkyu Volley referees and disability advocates taught the game to event attendees.

About the Sports and Society Lab Rec Days

Rec Days focus on introducing the UCLA community to inclusive and internationally known sports and games. These events are part of the Sport and Society Lab “Recreation and Leisure” focus which seeks to bring together people with disabilities along with domestic and internationally based experts, and further the crucial conversation about equitable access to everyday spaces for recreation and leisure. The event reflects broader moves towards accessible play spaces and universal approaches to physical education in K-12 education and disrupting the disparities adults with disabilities face with access to such spaces.