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Research Ambassadors

Undergraduate Research Ambassadors

Research ambassadors Cooper Coursey, Rachel King, Ethan Harner, Rushik Patel, Suraya Boggs, and Victoria Nist

UGR Ambassadors are advanced undergraduate researchers and committed students that are passionate about increasing research opportunities for students in the WVU community. Undergraduate research is a form of high-impact experiential learning, and students that participate in this process reinforce and expand upon subject knowledge, network with experts in their fields, and make a mark on their respective disciplines. Above all, UGR Ambassadors seek to enhance the undergraduate experience at WVU by capitalizing on their firsthand experiences with research.


Minimum requirements to serve as an undergraduate research ambassador include:

  • 1 year of undergraduate research experience
  • Concurrent involvement in research at the time of ambassador appointment
  • Ability to attend meetings twice a month (biweekly) at pre-scheduled meeting times
  • Ability to complete 15 hours of service over the course of the semester
  • Maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA at the time of serving
  • Strong interpersonal communication skills
  • Strong interest in advocating undergraduate research programming and promoting the positive aspects that the Office of Undergraduate Research offers

Additional research and leadership experiences will be taken into consideration when offering the role of an ambassador including:

  • Past enrollment in any research program or symposia (e.g., RAP, SURE, NIST SURF, REUs, URDC, POH, NCUR, WVU’s Undergraduate Spring Symposium, WVU’s Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium, travel-funded research, or other conference presentations)
  • Serving in a prior role with a demonstrated community impact on campus (e.g., serving in a student organization, serving as a resident assistant, extensive volunteering)
  • Proven commitment to expanding opportunities in undergraduate research

Opportunities to Serve

Ambassadors are asked to serve in several ways. Throughout the semester, opportunities might include:

  • Presenting undergraduate research opportunities to various student organizations
  • Tabling in the Lair or other spaces on campus for event promotions
  • Providing event support at the Undergraduate Spring Symposium
  • Recruiting at Decide WVU Days
  • Recruiting at WVU Junior Preview Days
  • Providing programmatic support to the RAP program

Student organizations interested in hosting ambassador presentations on undergraduate research opportunities as well as students interested in becoming UGR Ambassadors in future semesters should contact Dr. Amy Hessl at for more information.

2023-24 UGR Ambassadors

  • Suraya Boggs

    Suraya Boggs

    Undergraduate REsearch ambassador

    Majors:  Sociology and Anthropology

    Graduation Year: 2025
    Hometown: Spencer, West Virginia
    Student Organization Involvement: WVU NAACP, Mirage Magazine, Asian Association
    Interest and Hobbies: Crocheting, thrifting, reading
    Fun Fact: I have a twin brother!
    Research Area:  

  • Cooper Coursey

    Cooper Coursey

    Undergraduate REsearch ambassador

    Major:  Biology

    Graduation Year: 2025
    Hometown: Erie, Pennsylvania
    Student Organization Involvement: Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED), Research Ambassador Program (UGR), National Biological Honors Society (TriBeta), Undergraduate Research Association (URA), Pre-Med Club, The Pride of West Virginia Mountaineer Marching Band (MMB)
    Interest and Hobbies: Playing Trumpet and French Horn, hiking, traveling, skiing, cooking, camping, birdwatching
    Fun Fact: I am licensed to fly a small aircraft.
    Research Area: My primary research is in environmental microbiology and nematology, where my lab generates novel techniques for microbial environments and manipulated pathways to understand the roles of individual environmentally occurring microorganisms' abilities to interact and disrupt the impact that nematodes ultimately hold. Nematophagous fungi are a versatile carnivorous group of organisms that specialize in trapping and digesting nematodes. Our main goal is to compare the interactions of nematodes against various isolates of nematophagous fungi, and evaluate the possibilities of these molecular interactions to treat surfacing contaminations and parasitic disorders. Our research has resulted in the modification of environmentally occurring processes of fungi associated in conjunction with nematodes. In the future, we hope to produce biological control outcomes against different types of roundworm isolates.

  • Rushik Pattel headshot

    Rushik Patel

    Undergraduate REsearch ambassador

    Major Biomedical Engineering

    Graduation Year: 2024
    Hometown: South Charleston, WV
    Student Organization Involvement: Student Government Association, Biomedical Engineering Society, Club Tennis
    Interest and Hobbies: chess, tennis, reading fiction novels
    Fun Fact: This summer, I went to New York City and went to the top of the Empire State Building!
    Research Area: Rushik is a junior undergraduate student majoring in Biomedical Engineering from Charleston, WV. He is a RAP graduate and is currently continuing his research from the SURE program this past summer with Dr. Shailendra Singh in the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. Rushik is looking to better under the relationships between celiac disease and other pancreatic disorders such as pancreatic cancer and inflammation using patient data from major hospitals across the nation. After graduating, Rushik wants to pursue an MD-PhD degree. He hopes to teach at the university level while conducting research in medicine.

  • Rachel King

    Rachel King

    Undergraduate REsearch ambassador

    Majors Computer Science, Physics

    Graduation Year: 2025
    Student Organization Involvement: First2 Network
    Interest and Hobbies
    Fun Fact
    Research Area

  • Victoria Nist

    Victoria Nist

    Undergraduate REsearch ambassador

    Major Animal Nutritional Sciences

    Graduation Year: 2024
    Hometown: Massillon, Ohio
    Student Organization Involvement
    Interest and Hobbies
    Fun Fact
    Research Area

  • Ethan Harner headshot

    Ethan Harner

    Undergraduate REsearch ambassador

    Major and Minor Geography

    Graduation Year: 2025
    Hometown: Harpers Ferry, WV
    Student Organization Involvement: Geography Club, Center for Resilient Communities, Eberly College Ambassador Program
    Interest and Hobbies: Hiking, Backpacking, Music, Running, Reading
    Fun Fact: I am working on climbing the tallest mountain in every state.
    Research Area: I am working with Dr. Bradley Wilson on a community-based action research project on rural development. Our project examines the challenges and opportunities associated with creative placemaking as a rural development strategy through a case study of Princeton, WV.