New Center Offers Undergraduate Research Experiences

    CURE helps students and faculty partner on scholarly collaborations and grant-supported research.

The Center for Undergraduate Research Experiences (CURE), a new center in Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, is designed to provide leadership, coordination and support to student-faculty scholarly collaborations and grant-supported research. CURE is headed by Executive Director Maria T. Iacullo-Bird, PhD who also teaches in the Dyson History Department. Dr. Iacullo-Bird is an intellectual and cultural historian of American history with specializations that include the organization of knowledge, the history of higher education and public history. Several grant projects and staff now in CURE are former members of the School of Education’s Center for Urban Education (CUE) and became part of Dyson College on July 1, 2009.

To advance the work of this new Dyson center, last spring Dr. Iacullo-Bird joined a Pace team led by Dean Nira Herrmann, PhD which attended the Dialogues Conference held by the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) in Washington DC. A national organization of over 900 colleges and universities, the Council for Undergraduate Research mission is to “support and promote high-quality undergraduate student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship.”  The conference provided information and guidance in the development of the CURE initiative in Dyson College.

Dr. Iacullo-Bird was a featured speaker at the Dyson and Seidenberg co-sponsored External Funding Seminar Day on September 25, 2009 in White Plains, where she outlined how Dyson’s CURE will work to improve the research environment at Pace for both students and faculty. She emphasized that undergraduate research can assume a variety of forms including publications, presentations at symposia, poster sessions, Web site development and performances. To advance student-faculty collaboration and scholarship, she also noted the importance for faculty of internal funding opportunities and support in obtaining external funding, in securing resources for effective mentoring and in creating time for research. 
Currently, Dr. Iacullo-Bird is developing an inventory of all existing student-faculty research projects and related resources in Dyson College and working on new grant applications for both the New York City and Pleasantville campuses. If successful, these grants will provide added resources for low-income, first-generation college students. As an experienced grant writer, she anticipates working closely with Dyson faculty to help them develop grant applications both to support their own research interests and advance opportunities for joint student-faculty research projects.

CURE’s competitive grant programs, whose annual awards total over $1.1 million dollars, offer student internships and job placements that can be the basis of research projects and also reinforce or re-direct career paths. The existing CURE grant programs, Community and Volunteer (CVM) Mobilization AmeriCorps, Jumpstart, the Liberty Partnerships Program (LPP) and Upward Bound (UB), all serve academically at-risk Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn children and youth, ranging from the preschool level through 12th grade. Additionally, CVM AmeriCorps, which originated in the aftermath of the 9/11 catastrophe, also serves adult literacy needs especially in nearby Chinatown.

These grant programs offer a range of paid service positions to Pace students. Through CVM AmeriCorps, students are eligible to be placed in a school or nonprofit organization where they volunteer a set number of hours a year for a living stipend followed by an education award once they successfully complete their service. Within CURE, AmeriCorps volunteers are infused throughout the other grant programs, supporting their counseling and tutoring needs.

“That’s one of the wonderful aspects of these programs: the opportunities, not only for service to the community, but also what the students derive from it—especially in the development of professional goals,” says Dr. Iacullo-Bird. “It brings together both the opportunitas, as well as Pace’s emphasis on educating for the professions for all majors.”

Pace students have opportunities to explore a variety of career interests through tutoring, mentoring, college counseling, running workshops and teaching classes. CURE welcome students from all majors, and provides internship, community service, and practicum credits for several courses within Dyson College.

Moving forward, CURE is hoping to provide more paid service options for Dyson students and to develop enhanced support for external grant funding for the Dyson community, particularly in areas related to undergraduate research experiences.