LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research

Sumana Datta, Texas A&M University

Program Description

LAUNCH is an acronym that stands for Learning Communities (L), Academic Excellence (A), Undergraduate Research (U), National Fellowships (N), Capstones (C), and Honors (H). LAUNCH is a unit of Undergraduate Studies housed in Academic Affairs under the Provost at Texas A&M University. LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research (UGR) promotes, coordinates, creates, and assesses undergraduate programs involving creative scholarship, inquiry, and research in all academic disciplines at Texas A&M. The programs serve as an introduction for first-generation, low-income, and/or under-represented students to research through first-year research teams, summer research programs, research presentations, and research and graduate program informationals.

Program Goals

To increase research participation of low-income, first-generation and under-represented minority students. This includes the acquisition of research confidence, interest, and ability by these students. Ultimately this program hopes to increase interest in graduate study by first generation, low-income, and/or under-represented students.

Program Activities

  • Undergraduate Research Expo
  • Summer Undergraduate Research Poster Session
  • Getting Started in Research Workshops
  • Undergraduate Research Ambassadors
  • Mentoring Undergraduate Researchers: A Workshop for Graduate Students
  • LAUNCH Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) Symposium

Necessary Resources

  • Administrative support, significant budgetary support and commitment
  • Campus culture that values first-generation, under-represented, and low-income student success and investment in undergraduate research

Evidence of Success

Success metrics include:

  1. Summer Research: Individual departments assess their own programs. We assess how many students from departments that do not hold events of their own, present their summer research at our poster sessions.
  2. Undergraduate Research Scholars: thesis and program completion, survey
  3. Number of LAUNCH LC students registering for undergraduate research is increasing as we require them to attend UGR events to learn about research.

Between 90-95% of students who enter LAUNCH: UGR complete the program.

Program Costs and ROI

  • Average yearly costs to maintain this initiative: $190,000 per year
  • Average number of individuals served per year by this initiative: 751-1000
  • Average annual rate of success for individuals meeting this initiative's goals: 90-100%

References and Accessory Materials

LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research Website