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students presenting poster

Update May 11, 2020: Six student video submissions are featured in the Spring 2020 Virtual Showcase. The community is invited to view the presentations and submit constructive feedback.

Original Story:

The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is overcoming challenges presented by COVID-19. However, what has not changed is its commitment to coordinate and promote opportunities for undergraduate students across all disciplines to engage in faculty-mentored research and creative work projects. UROP continues to offer opportunities for funding, future research and showcasing students’ work.

UROP funding

UROP provides more than $400,000 annually to help students pursue their projects. It has received a record number of spring applications with 65 applications from 102 students across 30 majors. After a thorough review process, 36 project proposals for 40 students have been approved, totaling nearly $170,000 in funding.

Since applications were submitted by the March 3 deadline, most proposals never considered the current COVID-19 situation. Some of these projects will not be able to proceed as planned. UROP understands these challenges and is giving all funded students the opportunity to make changes to their project activities, timelines and budgets. Every project chosen for funding is being asked to indicate if they are able to move forward with no changes, or to detail the proposed changes.

UROP is supporting UH Mānoa faculty through its mentoring grant funding. In spring 2020, 41 proposals were submitted requesting $326,676, a 24 percent increase since 2019. A total of $75,000 will be awarded to 14 faculty representing nine units to support 20 undergraduate students in summer 2020. Faculty with awarded projects are also being asked to outline any proposed changes.

UROP has worked hard over the past two years to spread the word across campus about who we are, what we do and what opportunities exist for all UH Mānoa students and faculty. For example, our office has provided informational sessions to an average of more than 700 students and faculty per year over the past two years,” UROP Director Creighton Litton said. “When students and faculty are able to clearly see how UROP’s programs and activities fit within the larger focus for the university, it provides a clear path forward for engagement.”

Student Opportunity Center

The Student Opportunity Center (SOC) is a national database, offered by UROP, that allows undergraduate students to search for research and creative work positions, internships, co-ops and conferences. SOC also hosts a UH Mānoa database where faculty and staff can post open positions to recruit undergraduate students.

SOC has recently added thousands of virtual and remote research and creative work opportunities to the database, allowing students to pursue opportunities amid COVID-19. It is also providing options for educators to move conferences online to video conference rooms for both oral and poster presentations.

Undergraduate Showcase

The Undergraduate Showcase, which is held in the spring and fall, is moving online for the first time. This traditionally in-person event, which has been canceled due to COVID-19, will be offered virtually as an opportunity for students to document and celebrate the culmination of their projects.

The Undergraduate Showcase team from UROP and the UH Mānoa Honors Program will host the virtual event, May 8–22. Student presentations will be posted online as Youtube videos for public viewing. During this time, viewers will have the opportunity to provide constructive feedback that will be shared with student presenters. For more information, email

Support the UH Student Relief fund and COVID-19 research

—By Marc Arakaki

student presents poster
Nataliya Panova presents her project at the spring 2019 Undergraduate Showcase.
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