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Undergraduate Research in the Virtual Environment- Resources and FAQs

Undergraduate Research in the Virtual Environment- Resources and FAQs

On this page we will post information and guidance related to undergraduate research at VT and resources/creative solutions for moving research to the virtual environment.

Status of Undergraduate Research at VT

Individual and community health and safety remain the highest priority for this fall. Among possible face-to-face learning opportunities, undergraduate research has the potential for students to participate in hands-on learning in environments that have always required compliance with state, federal, and institutional safety regulations.

In the spring semester, Virginia Tech will continue its research in a manner that recognizes the importance of safety, transitions back to an in-person student-learning experience, and continues to ramp up research programs.

  • We are operating under the university’s modified operations status.
  • Most labs can/will be opened. Undergraduate and graduate students working on sponsored research or course credit may return to established or new research projects. 
  • Student volunteer research activity in labs is not advised, due to lab space and physical distancing guidelines. 
  • Colleges and institutes may add additional requirements in their areas. 
  • Allowable research activities require the approval of deans, vice presidents, or institute directors or their designee(s). 
  • The COVID-19 Research and Continuity Guidance microsite contains various resources for researchers, including Phase Three: Reopening Guidance.

Read more on VT’s READY webpage.

Can students still do undergraduate research, considering the COVID-19 situation?

Yes. Undergraduate research is currently available at VT, both in-person and virtually. Students will seek opportunities in the same manner as before, first investigating faculty working in research area(s) of interest to them and then reaching out to individual faculty to explore the availability of "space" on their projects, as outlined in our Getting Started guide. Students must be cognizant of the fact that indoor research spaces have limited physical capacity so faculty might need to prioritize who can be in those spaces and when.

Individual faculty have the flexibility to design or reimagine student research projects to be remote, as appropriate and practical. For example, students' research tasks could be shifted to working on an annotated bibliography, literature reviews, data analysis, etc.

In order to qualify as undergraduate research, students are required to present their research to a public forum. What options are available for them?

VT will host its annual spring symposium in April 2021. The format for this symposium is not currently known, but will likely be virtual. More information about the symposium and the registration form will be made available on the symposium webpage.

Regional and national disciplinary and undergraduate research conferences are moving online for the foreseeable future. Students are encouraged to seek out these opportunities to present their research. The OUR travel support program will cover expenses related to presenting at a virtual conference. Students can apply for funds throughout the year.

I was supposed to present my research at a national/regional conference but it got cancelled because of the Coronavirus. Can I still list the presentation on my resume and if so, how?

Yes. The fact that you were selected to present your research is important to recognize! Here is a possible format for posting your presentation information on your resume:

Presentation Title. Presentation Author(s). Abstract accepted for presentation at the name of conference, conference location, (2020). [Note: This meeting was cancelled due to public health concerns related to COVID-19.]

Read this article on How to Create an APA Style Reference for a Canceled Conference Presentation


Virtual museum resources, e-learning, and online collections
These databases contain videos related to scientific procedures that may be great for folks who can no longer teach students in labs: 

Journal of Visualized Experiments, JoVE

Sage Research Methods Online

The Human Research Protection Program (HRPP) Office, in light of recent events, is hosting virtual office hours for faculty and student researchers from 9 to 12 on Wednesdays. The HRPP calendar has details on how to access their remote office hours.

A message from Don Taylor: Research Resources for COVID-19.

Mentoring Undergraduate Research in Mathematics, in the Age of Physical Isolation (prepared by UR SIGMAA and CUR’s Division of Mathematics & Computer Science)

CUR- Virtual Undergraduate Research in Action
Webinar, slides, and resources

CUR Video Archives- Webinars/Conversations
1. UR in the Era of Covid-19: Unpacking the Semester (Dec 15, 2020);
2. UR in the Era of Covid-19: Unpacking the Spring
3. Archive: UR in the Era of COVID-19: Summer Programming and Student Employment Forum (April 2nd)
4. Video Archive: UR in the Era of COVID-19: Virtual Mentoring (March 30th) 
5. CUR Covid-19 Forum: Virtual Conferences (March 26th)

2. CUR Covid-19 Forum: Virtual Research, Creative, & Scholarly - Part 1 and 2

Relevant Articles
Moving academic research forward during COVID-19

  1. N. S. Wigginton1,2,
  2. R. M. Cunningham1,
  3. R. H. Katz3,
  4. M. E. Lidstrom4,
  5. K. A. Moler2,
  6. D. Wirtz5,
  7. M. T. Zuber6

Science  12 Jun 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6496, pp. 1190-1192
DOI: 10.1126/science.abc5599

NURVa- Remote and Virtual Research in the Age of Disruption. [Link to:]

Series of moderated panel discussions featuring faculty and student perspectives on remote and virtual research in a variety of research areas.