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MSU student research mixes mentorship with real-world experience

  • Student Research
Morehead State offers numerous opportunities and resources for students to obtain invaluable real-world experience outside the classroom. However, if a student would like to receive work experience while gaining a greater knowledge in their field of study and a unique mentoring opportunity from distinguished MSU faculty, they may want to seriously consider taking part in student research.

“Many students participate in research because they know it will significantly enhance their educational experience,” said Dr. Michael Henson, associate vice president for research and dean of the graduate school. “I think Morehead State has realized early on that in respect to producing quality graduates who have the ability to be critical thinkers and having success in the workplace, having experience in research is critical.”

MSU prides itself on promoting the academic and intellectual culture of the campus through the support of student and faculty research. While some may think “research” has a primarily scientific connotation, Henson emphasizes that there are research opportunities across every discipline and area of study.

While any student can gain research experience, a select group can earn research experience through MSU’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program, which, through institutional funds and external grant funding, provides talented undergraduate students the opportunity to work as a junior colleague with a faculty scholar/mentor on a research project. Students may work up to 15 hours per week during the academic year with the ability to renew their fellowship up to four years with satisfactory progress.

Jessica Farrell, an MSU sophomore currently double majoring in history and math, first participated in the Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program as a biology major. With biology professor Dr. Matthew Ellison as her mentor, they studied the effects of zinc on strains of bacteria related to systic fibrosis. Now, she is doing history research on the local food movement and people’s responsibility to their surroundings.

“I think it really helped me to get an idea of what graduate school would be like. Plus, it’s a good way to get connected to your professors,” Farrell said. “I think it’s just a really cool program and I’ll probably end up doing more as I go through school.”

With MSU’s various student research opportunities, they are also given a way to present the results of their efforts during the annual Celebration of Student Scholarship, which allows a showcase for the outstanding scholarly work of these students to the greater campus community. It’s a day-long event of presentations, exhibitions and performances by students from all MSU colleges.

“This gives them an opportunity to present their presentations in an environment that’s nurturing,” Henson said. “This a wonderful opportunity for mentoring and our faculty readily embraces that opportunity.”

For MSU students, there are countless benefits from participating in student research and the results of their hard work go well beyond just having experience to put on your resume.

“Research participation outside the traditional classroom setting leads to increased student retention and teaches skills not covered in their regular curriculum,” Henson said. “Student research is a win-win-win situation for the University, for students and for those students’ future employers.”

The annual Celebration of Student Scholarship will be held on April 23. For more information on MSU student research, call 606-783-2010 or visit

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