Undergraduate Research

Volume 4, Issue 1 (2024) Summer 2024

I write during a time of great change and turmoil in higher education, and one where future direction is not quite certain. As a result from everything from demographic shifts to college athletics, the higher education ecosystem has been disrupted. Many smaller colleges and universities struggle with enrollment, leaving students with fewer options, while some landgrant universities continue an enrollment growth arms race that threatens to homogenize the higher education landscape. Meanwhile, civil unrest continues while study after study show the confidence in higher education is eroding from the general public. Whether as a result of inflation, bad press, or anecdotal evidence, many no longer believe in the civic good that higher education provides. Finally, the rapid development of generative artificial intelligence, and the relative accessibility of AI has already forced major changes in pedagogy. As AI grows exponentially, it becomes difficult for faculty to stay current. As faculty, we have not fully realized the potential (and dangers) of AI in the classroom.

All this is to say that undergraduate research is more important now than ever before. When I founded this journal, a hardworking crew of dedicated faculty got together to make this journal a reality, all during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, it was hard to know what undergraduate research would look like when students returned to the classroom, or how this would impact their future. Just four years later, we stand at another precipice, and despite the obvious challenges I remain optimistic about the future of higher education. Research from Jillian Kinzie to Tia McNair to many others across the world have continually discovered that engaged, mentored research has long term impact on students. They are more resilient, have better critical thinking skills, and develop meaningful relationships. Undergraduate research does more than help drive inquiry and discovery, it builds skills for success in college and beyond. In short, an undergraduate research experience is transformative.

In this uncertain moment, I can think of no better solution than students undergoing sustained, mentored research projects—learning about success, failure, dissemination, and their own humanity through hands on experiences and beta-testing solutions to current problems. No one can predict where our present moment will take us, just as no one could have predicted the impact of COVID 19 on higher education. But it is surely these students who will be leaders of the future, and it is our job to make sure they are well equipped.

Jordan Cofer
Co-founder, Undergraduate Research
Former Associate Provost
Georgia College & State University


Front Matter
Alesa Liles


Back Matter
Alesa Liles


Alesa Liles, Georgia College & State University

Managing Editor

Kelly P. Massey, Georgia College & State University

Editorial Board

Amy Buddie
Kennesaw State University
Jordan Cofer
Georgia College & State University
Ashley Hagler
Gaston College
Kasey Karen
Georgia College & State University
Jill Kinzie
Indiana University
Huda Makhluf
Precision Institute National University
Marisa Moazen
University of Tennessee-Knoxville
Niharika Nath
New York Institute of Technology
Jeanetta Sims
University of Central Oklahoma
Kate Theobald
University of West Georgia
Charles Watson
Association of American Colleges & Universities


Cover Art

Hannah Gilleon,
Even So

Back Cover Art

Laila Campbell,