Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center

Mission, Vision, & Values


We promote scholarly identity, intellectual vibrancy, and the development of social capital by facilitating mentored undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity that is composed of rigorous, authentic, and calibrated scholarly activities by providing first-hand, transformative experiences through innovative and distinctive programs that enrich and broaden engagement opportunities for the campus and tri-county community.

How do we achieve our mission? UROC provides educational advising and assistance through one-on-one sessions, group workshops, relevant courses, and scholar community building activities. To further prepare them for life beyond their undergraduate education, students engage in professional experiences, such as the presentation of their research at professional conferences and the publication of their work in peer-reviewed journals. Students who wish to proceed with their education are also provided with graduate school preparation activities. In all endeavors, UROC works to provide students with an engaged and scholarly undergraduate experience by integrating mentorship, learning, and research.

UROC Scholar Jesse Yamagata presenting her research at the SACNAS conference.
UROC Scholar Jesse Yamagata presenting her research at the SACNAS conference.

In the next decade, UROC anticipates growing both the number of research and scholarly activities offered as well as the breadth and scope of those offerings. This will include programming that further integrates research into the CSUMB curriculum and also combines research activities with other high-impact practices.



Our programs are designed in partnership with CSUMB faculty, rooted in CSUMB curriculum, and offer different levels of engagement in order to provide access to all CSUMB students. They foster critical thinking, communication skills, and create entirely new prospects by providing participants with a deep understanding of the culture, processes and knowledge generation and dissemination underlying inquiry-based research and scholarly activities.

Campus engagement

The life and vitality of UROC comes from our students,faculty, and staff. Their passion for inquiry-based research inspires our work;their persistence and enthusiasm encourages us to explore and expand programming opportunities available for each member of our campus community. Together we create an abundance of shared successes which illuminate the path and invite future students, faculty and staff to venture forth.


UROC strives to understand the needs of our program participants as well as the campus and tri-county communities by infusing our collective experience with new knowledge, planning and action. Our staff builds confidence by ensuring stability and consistency within our programs. We provide a structure around which faculty are able to develop creative programming.


Our plans, decisions and priorities express alignment with CSUMB’s values, mission, and vision. Our ability to shift in scales, moving from program details to the big picture ensures harmonious operations vertically and horizontally among all programs, departments and levels of administration within CSUMB.

Graduated Scholar Avery Thurston receives his graduation stole.
Graduated Scholar Avery Thurston receives his graduation stole at the UROC Year End Celebration.

In July 2020, undergraduate researchers in the UROC Researchers, UROC McNair Scholars, UROC Scholars and SERE Scholars programs participated in conversations about the intersections between social justice and research. Issues of student and faculty representation of color in research/academe is the focus.

As a start-- and in response to these conversations, UROC has:

  • Organized an ongoing speaker series that invites undergraduates to engage with multicultural faculty who will speak about their journey through academe and their research in a variety of fields including biofuels, linguistics, theater history and performance studies, and environmental science.
  • The recently formed inaugural class of Koret Foundation Scholars focuses on first-generation social science research aims.
  • Continued to build out UROC programming centered on evidence-based pedagogies including culturally relevant (CR) pedagogy, focused on student empowerment and voice in order to support undergraduates in becoming change agents.
  • Our course management CANVAS and iLearn programmatic pages include a number of relevant and inclusive social justice resources on mental health and research, racial bias, consciousness, and equity for students.
  • Collaborative research efforts with the Office of Inclusive Excellence on support for students during the SARS CoV-2 pandemic.

UROC is continuing to explore avenues for addressing these important issues, and welcomes suggestions from all members of the CSUMB community. Interested in hearing more about what other CSUMB units are doing regarding the BLM movement? Explore the Office of Inclusive Excellence page for more information.

How we activate our students

  • Challenge: Cultivate student success through challenging and rigorous research experiences that are grounded in rigorous academic expectations.
  • Develop: Support student development through intensive mentoring and program services.
  • Apply & Calibrate: Enable students to apply and 'calibrate' their skills and knowledge through exposure to the field, conference presentations, and peer-reviewed publications.
  • Achieve & Identify: Empower students to develop self-efficacy and identity as scholars and researchers.

The history of undergraduate research @ CSUMB

Haeger, H., Banks, J.E., and C. Smith. 2020. What we know and what we need to know about undergraduate research. Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research 3(4): 62-69.

Abstract: In order to assess which questions we have already answered, and what we still need to know about the high-impact practice, undergraduate research, we conducted a mixed methods study including a systematized analysis of literature that assessed the impact of undergraduate-research, and interviewed faculty and administrators actively engaged in undergraduate-research. Findings demonstrate that the majority of studies on undergraduate research have focused on STEM fields and on student outcomes. Fewer studies have looked at other disciplines or at other outcomes such as impact of undergraduate research on faculty or institutional impacts. Despite ample research that demonstrates outcomes associated with undergraduate research, more work is needed to establish a causal relationship between undergraduate research and these outcomes, diversify the topics and scope of research on undergraduate research, and demonstrate the broad ranging impacts of undergraduate research. doi: 10.18833/spur/3/4/4

Haeger, H., Fresquez, C., Banks, J.E., and C. Smith. (2018). Navigating the academic landscape: How undergraduate research experiences can shed light on the hidden curriculum. Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research 2(1): 15-23.

Abstract: For new-majority students (traditionally underrepresented minority, first-generation, and low-income students) who are less likely to have access to support systems, learning how to navigate the often hidden facets of academia can be a challenge. Providing programming that helps students learn how to navigate the academic landscape as they undertake undergraduate research (UR) increases understanding of the hidden curriculum and helps new majority researchers chart a course through academia, develop higher educational aspirations, and prepare for graduate school. To demonstrate the effectiveness of these interventions, the authors use a mixed-methods approach, including testing common misconceptions, students’ written reflections on their learning, and survey data. Findings suggest that the inclusion of programming explicitly designed to shed light on the hidden curriculum increases the impact of UR and can better prepare students for graduate school and the workforce. doi: 10.18833/spur/2/1/7

Banks, J.E., Fresquez, C., Haeger, H., Quinones-Soto, S., and L. Hammersley. (2018). Alliance for change: Broadening participation in undergraduate research at California State University. Scholarship and Practice of Undergraduate Research 1(4): 5-11.

Abstract: Engagement in high-impact practices (HIPS) such as undergraduate research can dramatically improve academic and developmental outcomes; traditionally underserved students (including underrepresented minorities and first-generation students) often experience outsized benefits from these types of academic experiences. The California State University Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (CSU-LSAMP) program provides wide-ranging scaffolding and support to underrepresented students in an effort to increase the participation of individuals who face or have faced social, educational, or economic barriers to careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The CSU-LSAMP program on the California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) campus is one of many in the CSU-LSAMP alliance especially focused on preparing student participants for STEM careers by providing high-stakes, authentic mentored undergraduate research opportunities. We present here a description of the undergraduate research and supplementary programs supported by the CSU-LSAMP program at CSUMB and other CSU campuses, and present outcome data highlighting the benefits of leveraging undergraduate research engagement to increase participation of underserved groups in STEM. doi: 10/18833/spur/1/4/9

O'Donnell, K., Bothello, J., Brown, J., Gonzalez, G., and Head, W. (2015). Undergraduate Research and Its Impact on Student Success for Underrepresented Students. In M. Malachowski, J.M. Osborn, K.K. Karukstis, and E.L. Ambos (Eds.) Enhancing and Expanding Undergraduate Research: A Systems Approach (pp. 27-38). New Directions for Higher Education, no.169.

Summary: Recounts the work in the Cal State University system to institutionalize undergraduate research and support success for students traditionally underrepresented in higher education, prepared for a special issue of New Directions on Higher Education entitled Enhancing and Expanding Undergraduate Research: A Systems Approach.

O'Donnell et al. 2015

Head, W. & Brown, J. (2012). California State University, Monterey Bay: Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center. In: J. Kinkead and L. Blockus (Eds.) Undergraduate Research Offices & Programs: Models & Practices (pp.95-122). Council on Undergraduate Research.

Summary: History of UROC and Undergraduate Research at CSUMB, prepared for the Council of Undergraduate Research.

Head and Brown, 2012