Skip to main content

Background Image for Header:

About Us

The Office of Undergraduate Research enhances academic excellence through undergraduate research and creative endeavors. We connect undergraduate students who have strong and committed interests in research and creative endeavors to faculty members, programs, and research-related opportunities that are aligned with their interests.

For Undergraduate Students, the Office of Undergraduate Research:

  • offers on-campus programming (e.g., SURE), career mentoring speakers, and coordinated workshops (e.g., responsible conduct of research, preparing a scientific poster);
  • connects students with on-campus research opportunities;
  • connects students with off-campus/external research opportunities;
  • offers advice on applying for undergraduate research opportunities (on-campus and off-campus);
  • offers advice on enhancing your application for undergraduate research opportunities;
  • offers advice on finding travel funding and preparing your research for presentation;
  • connects students with opportunities to present their research (e.g., URDC and Posters on the Hill); and
  • connects student researchers with faculty.

For Faculty Mentors, the Office of Undergraduate Research:

  • connects faculty with student researchers;
  • aids faculty members in supporting undergraduate research activities;
  • provides budgetary templates and language for inclusion of undergraduate researchers in proposals;
  • aids faculty in writing proposals to support undergraduate research sites (e.g., NSF  REU Siteproposals);
  • offers on-campus programming (e.g., SURE), career mentoring speakers, and coordinated workshops for undergraduate researchers; and
  • acts as a resource for undergraduate research activities across WVU.


  • Amy Hessl headshot

    Amy Hessl, Ph.D.

    Professor, Geology & Geography & Director, Office of Undergraduate Research

    Amy earned dual degrees at the University of California at Berkeley (Anthropology and Conservation and Resource Studies), a M.A. in Geography from University of Wyoming and a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Arizona. She has served for more than 20 years as a Professor of Geography in the Department of Geology and Geography at WVU. Amy has mentored dozens of students in her tree ring research lab through NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), the WVU Research Apprenticeship Program (RAP), and the WVU SURE program. In her career as a mentor, Amy has most valued watching students have that "AHA" moment for the first time. It's magical.

  • Cinthia Pacheco

    Cinthia Pacheco, Ph.D.

    Assistant Director, Office of Undergraduate Research

    Cinthia Pacheco has a Bachelor’s degree in Dentistry and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Pharmacology, all of them from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil. She was also a visiting scientist at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh. Her interest in research started early in her life, when she was still an undergraduate student and participated in a scientific initiation program. As a professor at Newton Paiva University Center in Brazil, she gave similar research opportunities to many students, while she was directing the university efforts on undergraduate research. Along the years, Cinthia had witnessed the beneficial impact that research has in the life of the students and how it can open opportunities in their future careers. Currently, as an Assistant Director of the UGR, Cinthia is committed to continuously increase the participation of students and faculty mentors in undergraduate research.

  • Kevin Walden

    Kevin Walden

    Program Coordinator, Office of Undergraduate Research

    Kevin is from the home of Mother’s Day: Grafton, West Virginia. Kevin has many interests across the arts, humanities, and social and behavioral sciences. While attending WVU as undergraduate, he earned a bachelor’s in English and biology. At WVU, he served as a research assistant studying Appalachian language diversity and change at the West Virginia Dialect Project under the direction of Dr. Kirk Hazen. After a gap year working as a cast member at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida, Kevin continued research as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education in Philadelphia. There he studied academic identity development in high school students and earned a Master’s in human development. His favorite role in graduate school was serving as Graduate Associate in Rodin College House, where he supported the development and enrichment of students living in college housing. Now, at the WVU Office of Undergraduate Research, Kevin hopes to introduce WVU undergraduates to the life-changing experiences of engaging in disciplinary research while also continuing to learn from students in all majors across the university. Kevin is most at peace when he is physically active, designing visual art projects, discussing 20th century pop culture, or promoting self-care and wellbeing in others. 

  • Graduate Assistants

  • Cari Ferguson

    Carinna Ferguson

    Graduate Teaching Assistant, RAP

    Cari Ferguson was raised in Belington, West Virginia. While pursuing her B.A. in psychology at WVU, she worked in a research lab studying individual differences in emotions, college student retention, and academic persistence. Her undergraduate research spurred her to continue her studies at WVU, where she earned an M.A. in Research and Program Evaluation. Cari is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Human Development. Her research interests include high-impact practices, program evaluation, and the impact of undergraduate research experiences across disciplines. She is engaged in several ongoing projects examining undergraduate research, adult learning, and mentorship. She currently works as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Research Apprenticeship Program at WVU.

  • Portrait

    Cesar Castellon Gort

    Graduate teaching assistant, RAP

    César earned his B.S. in English Literature and Linguistics at the Universidad de Valladolid, in Valladolid, Spain where he also got his M.A. in Second Language Teaching. At WVU, he got an M.A. in Linguistics with a minor in Spanish. After graduation, he worked as a Spanish instructor at WVU and Fairmont State University. Currently, he his getting his Doctorate in Higher Education Administration and working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Research Apprentice Program at WVU.

  • Undergraduate Assistants

  • Kallie's Headshot

    Kallie Schafner

    teaching assistant, RAP

    Kallie is a sophomore undergraduate student studying chemistry from Cleveland, Ohio. She is a RAP graduate and currently completes her research under Tim Nurkiewicz in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. Her research passion is inhalation toxicology which her research fulfills where she focuses on the inhalation of electronic cigarettes on rats during maternal gestation. Through research, Kallie has won the Society of Toxicology RC4 award and will present her research at the Society of Toxicology’s annual meeting this March. Her expected graduation date is May 2023. After completing her undergraduate degree, Kallie plans on pursuing a graduate degree in toxicology.

  • Smiling woman

    Cassidy Kidwell

    teaching assistant, RAP

    Cassidy is a sophomore undergraduate student studying Music Education from Shady Spring, WV. While in RAP this past year, she researched under Dr. Travis D. Stimeling, Professor of Musicology at WVU. Their focuses included Appalachian music, artists, history, and zine making, and they will be continuing their research throughout the next year. Also during this past year, Cassidy participated in WVU Women's Choir and Mountaineer Choir. This summer, she worked as a New Student Orientation Leader for West Virginia University's incoming students. Her expected graduation date is May 2024, and after completing her
    undergraduate degree, she plans to start teaching in public schools or continue her education in graduate school.

  • Smiling man

    YJ Arciaga

    teaching assistant, RAP 

    Yaronn James C. Arciaga, aka YJ, is a senior Mathematics Major, who originated from Davao City, Philippines, and resides in Hedgesville, West Virginia. YJ has an Associates of Arts in Civil Engineering and Mathematics from Potomac State College, where he served as peer tutor in mathematics, physics, and economics. In addition, he was a program coordinator of mathematics workshops for Potomac State’s remedial students. He is a RAP Graduate and continues to research on the perceptions of facilitators in dual enrollment courses, under the direction of Dr. Laura Pyzdrowski. Through his research, YJ was the winning presenter for the Human Engagement Poster category of the 2021 WVU Undergraduate Spring Symposium. Inspired by his research, YJ plans to pursue a Master’s in Mathematics and Statistics, and a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education.

  • Smiling man

    Michael Fiala

    teaching assistant, RAP 

    Michael grew up in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. As a non-traditional second-year student, Michael is pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Microbiology and participating in the WVUteach program to develop a path in secondary education and mentorship. After completing RAP during his first year at WVU, Michael's goal is to continue building undergraduate research experience to prepare for graduate studies in Ecology and Environmental Biology. Michael's research passions are related to the ecology of freshwater ecosystems and water quality management. His aim is to develop future projects concerning the effects of stormwater runoff and anthropogenic influences on soil, plants, and water microbial diversity and health. In addition to assisting RAP, he will be engaging in activities as a WVU Presidential Student Ambassador and a volunteer for World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Panda Ambassador’s to begin working on leadership roles and community engagement.

OUR Location & HOURS



Spring 2020 Semester Hours 

Monday-Friday: 9:00a.m.-5:00p.m.

Mailing Address 

Office of Undergraduate Research 
Arnold Hall  
PO Box 6702  
West Virginia University 
Morgantown, WV 26506-6702 

Physical Address (for package delivery) 

Office of Undergraduate Research 
Arnold Hall 
650 Price Street  
West Virginia University 
Morgantown, WV 26506-6702 

Arnold Hall

Arnold Hall, Rooms 228-235

NOTE: Arnold Hall is located on the corner of Price and Prospect Street on the WVU Downtown Campus. Come in through the main Price Street entrance (the glass doors in the above picture).

If you have any questions, not answered by the information on the UGR website, or would like to make an appointment to discuss undergraduate research opportunities, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of Undergraduate Research by email ( or telephone at 304-293-9354.