UBC Reports | Vol. 51 | No. 11 | Nov. 3, 2005
(The following is an edited version of a letter and an article submitted by Jason Li about his Zoology professor, regarding undergraduate research at UBC)
I recently read the article by Vice President John Hepburn and his view on undergraduate research and its importance.
Most undergraduates remain oblivious to its existence. Those who acknowledge its existence and [have] tried to pursue discoveries with faculty members are usually turned down due to their inexperience.
While some professors may be reluctant to accept undergraduates, Zoology Prof. Robert Blake has been involving undergraduates in his research program for 25 years working on diverse projects such as bird flight, aquaculture and fish locomotion with great success. Over this year, there have been seven journal articles (in press and in review) written by undergraduates under intense one-to-one supervision.
When asked about their contributions to the manuscripts, Professor Blake [says], “While their ideas initially come out coarse and unconnected, with some refinement, they are first class.” His purpose is to pass the notion to undergraduates that research is actually fun and interesting to do.
Professor Blake is shocked that most students continue to think that attending university is mainly about attending class, passing tests and graduating. “It is as if they had never thought that research plays a very important role in learning,” says Blake. “Acquiring knowledge does not have to confine you to a desk.”