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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Academics & Research

Houston Early Research Experience continues virtually throughout pandemic


Houston Early Research Experience program participants, faculty and staff have been operating virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, meeting on Zoom. | Courtesy of Rikki Bettinger

Houston Early Research Experience program participants, faculty and staff have been operating virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, meeting on Zoom. | Courtesy of Rikki Bettinger

Every year the Houston Early Research Experience program is led by UH faculty members and instructors where students, specifically sophomore and juniors, learn about the various skills behind conducting research. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this program has become a virtual two-week event that started on Aug. 3 and will continue through Aug. 14. The program was initially set to take place in May but was postponed. 

“COVID-19 has shaped the 2020 HERE program in two key ways,” said program manager at the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards Rikki Bettinger. “First, the program is offered in an entirely remote format this year.  This is the third undergraduate research program that our office has run entirely online since May.”

“Certainly, reading assignments and discussions in the individual seminar groups are also informed by our present as we seek to understand the multi-faceted challenges of our city during this time,”Bettinger added.

This year’s research focuses on urbanization, “including infrastructure, policy, demographic patterns, emergency preparedness and the long-term impacts on affected communities.”

In addition, the research conducted on urbanization aims to help participants understand issues related to Houston, which could open up conversations that can potentially help address said issues. 

Despite the difficulties of changing this year’s program to online, students and leaders of the HERE program say they will not let the pandemic stop their excitement to learn by tackling technical adversities.

“What am I most interested about in this year’s program? The enthusiasm of the students and faculty,” Bettinger said.

“It’s inspiring to see how we have hit the ground running despite the online format.  I am particularly interested in seeing the diversity of approaches represented in the research proposals in the students’ final presentations.”

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

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