Participating in undergraduate research at Carolina changed Troy Blackburn’s career path.

Blackburn, a professor of exercise and sport science and associate dean for undergraduate research, received bachelor’s and Ph.D. degrees from UNC. He said that light-bulb moment happened because a senior honors thesis ignited his interest in research.

“It was life-altering. It’s the reason why I’m here today,” he said.

Blackburn wants all undergraduate students to experience that same spark and to learn more about the value of undergraduate research.

Students will have that opportunity during University Research Week, a semi-annual, campus-wide event that enhances opportunities for undergraduates to discover and engage in research and scholarship. It is part of Carolina’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), which emphasizes “Learning by Connecting, Doing and Making:”

A series of events are planned throughout the week. A panel on Oct. 13 will feature political scientist Frank Baumgartner and former undergraduates who are co-authors with him on a new book, Deadly Justice: A Statistical Portrait of the Death Penalty. It will be held at 11 a.m. at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History.

Academic departments are encouraged to hold events such as lab tours and interest group meetings. Faculty are asked to take 15 to 20 minutes in their classes to talk about their own research. The Office for Undergraduate Research will host workshops on how to get involved in research.

“Envision that you are a first-year student, and in one week, you may learn about research in English, physics, math — whatever courses you are taking,” Blackburn said. “Maybe one of those piques your interest. It’s an excellent way to demonstrate the humanities, natural and social sciences coming together to solve the world’s problems.”

“This is for everyone.”

Visit the developing URW Schedule on the Office for Undergraduate Research web site, under “Highlights” for details about the week’s events. Follow activities on social media via the hashtag #UNCURW.

Story by Kim Spurr, College of Arts & Sciences; video by Carly Swain, University Communications

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