UR psychology professor awarded $200,000 National Science Foundation grant to improve undergraduate research education

October 17, 2016

Cindy Bukach Cindy Bukach, associate professor of psychology at the University of Richmond, has received a $218,716 grant from the National Science Foundation for a project that focuses on preparing undergraduates for research in STEM-related fields.

Bukach’s project called PURSUE (Preparing Undergraduates for Research in STEM-Related Fields Using Electrophysiology) works to improve undergraduate education in STEM fields by training students in cognitive electrophysiology techniques. Cognitive electrophysiology includes electroencephalography (EEG), a measure of continuous ongoing changes in electrical activity in the brain that reflects cognitive processing, and event related potential (ERP), which synchronizes the EEG data to specific sensory, cognitive or motor events in real time, allowing researchers to link brain activity to behavior.

The project aims to develop high-impact, open access undergraduate curricula that includes a database of key ERP experiments for hands-on lab exercises, establish an electrophysiology teaching-learning community and develop an open-access website to disseminate the materials and function as a social network to facilitate research at primarily undergraduate institutions.

“The capacity to think critically about cognitive neuroscience is becoming more important as public policies rely more heavily on findings from cognitive neuroscience research. It is my hope that these materials will encourage more faculty at primarily undergraduate institutions to involve undergraduates in authentic research experiences,” said Bukach.

Bukach is the lead scientist on the PURSUE project and is working with Catherine Reed of Claremont McKenna College and Jane Couperus of Hampshire College. Grants were awarded to each of the project’s collaborators. The grant will be used over a three-year period for summer research stipends and other research-related costs for Bukach and two undergraduates each year.

Bukach has taught at Richmond since 2006. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

# # #