Research-intensive courses are on the rise at KU

LAWRENCE — In an effort to provide research opportunities to more students, 18 University of Kansas faculty members are working with the Center for Undergraduate Research this fall and spring to redesign portions of their courses to include a larger research or creative component. Recipients of the Research-Intensive Course Grants participate in a workshop to learn best practices, share models and refine the focus of their classes.

“These courses will provide many students with the opportunity to participate in research and creative scholarship across a wide range of disciplines,” said Alison Olcott, director of the Center for Undergraduate Research. “This academic year will have the most awardees since the Research-Intensive Course Grant program was created, illustrating the importance of providing students with opportunities to do research in class as well.”

Research-Intensive Course Grants are part of the overall efforts of the Center for Undergraduate Research to provide accessible research opportunities for KU students. The goal is to support faculty who are developing these types of courses so more students can be exposed to the high-impact practice of undergraduate research. Over 400 students were enrolled in the 2022 fall semester research-intensive courses.

This academic year’s recipients were from a variety of disciplines.

“Almost everything in strategic communication is based on research, as we need to understand how an audience feels about a product, service or idea, in order to effectively communicate our message,” said Joseph Erba, associate professor of journalism. “The Research-Intensive Course Grant allowed us to collect primary data via a social media analytics software that is widely used in our profession. Students got a 'behind-the-scenes' look at how these data are collected and used them to provide recommendations for a mock communication campaign they are working on.”

Jennifer Lohoefener, assistant research professor in electrical engineering & computer science, transformed her course this fall by incorporating research.

"The value of incorporating research into our Programming Languages course (EECS 662) is it’s brought a fresh perspective to language design that was lacking before,” Lohoefener said. “Students are encouraged to be curious and know that success is not always absent of failure. Sometimes success is failure. They’ve been given a chance to explore how today’s languages have come into existence and have developed a newfound appreciation for the scholars that have come before them."

The Center for Undergraduate Research will open applications for Research-Intensive Course Grants to be applied to the fall 2023 semester in March 2023. Faculty and instructors who are interested in applying and have questions are encouraged to email Matt Downen, assistant director with the Center for Undergraduate Research, at

Fall 2022 recipients include the following faculty members:

Thom Allen, lecturer in architecture, Arch 177, Cities and Resources

Yvonnes Chen, professor of journalism & mass communications, JMC 420, Principles of Strategic Communication I

Joseph Erba, associate professor of journalism & mass communications, JMC 420, Principles of Strategic Communication II

Nisha Fernando, associate professor of interior architecture, IA 508, Interior Architecture Studio III

Jennifer Lohoefener, assistant research professor of electrical engineering & computer science, EECS 662, Programming Languages

Shuai Sun, assistant teaching professor of chemistry, CHEM 150, Chemistry for Engineers


Spring 2023 recipients include the following faculty members:

Rafael Acosta, associate professor of Spanish & Portuguese, SPAN 560, Not the World We Have but the One We Need (social film studies capstone)

Miguel Angel Albujar-Escuredo, lecturer in Spanish & Portuguese, SPAN 448, Language & Culture for Business

Joseph Erba, associate professor of journalism & mass communications, JMC 640, Strategic Campaigns

Eileen Hotze, associate teaching professor of molecular biosciences and undergraduate biology, BIOL507, Bacterial Infectious Disease Laboratory

Chien-Ho Ko, research professor of civil, environmental & architectural engineering, CMGT 712, Construction Safety Solution Development

Olga Kyrylova, visiting assistant professor of film & media studies, FMS 177, Ukraine Through the Lens of Film

Brian Lagotte, director of undergraduate programs, Center for Global & International Studies, GIST 698, Capstone Seminar

David Mai, assistant teaching professor of film & media studies, FMS 303, Intermediate Animation

Stephen Politzer-Ahles, associate teaching professor of linguistics, LING 435, Psycholinguistics

Kelly Sharron, lecturer in sociology and in women, gender & sexuality studies, SOC 450, Gender and Society

Judy Wu, lecturer in pharmacy practice, PHAR 535, Pharmacy Skills laboratory VI

Jack Zhang, assistant professor of political science, POLS/EALC 666, Political Economy of Asia.

Thu, 12/08/2022


Matt Downen

Media Contacts

Matt Downen

Center for Undergraduate Research