Impact of Research on Our Students

Research at Palm Beach Atlantic University isn’t restricted to our faculty. The university considers undergraduate and graduate research as an integral part of the at Palm Beach Atlantic University experience, and grants are available to help students cover the cost of research materials, travel and other expenses.

For example, students may join research teams as part of the School of Arts & Sciences’ Summer Undergraduate Academic Research Program (SUGAR). In this program, students have the unique opportunity to participate in exciting, rewarding, and challenging research projects - often the realm of experts and graduate students – as part of a wide variety of research projects each summer.

“Through our summer programs, PBA students receive a complete, broad and comprehensive training that exposes them to real-life situations.” (Director of SUGAR) -Dr. Angela Witmer.  

Very much a hands-on active learning experience, research is all about discovery.  This is true regardless of whether the activity deals with designing or running new experiments, collecting, analyzing and interpreting quantitative data, research and development of timely health interventions in the community, composing and critiquing new symphonies, proving original theorems, testing new techniques to create images on canvas, or molding sculptures.

With dedicated faculty, the impact of student involvement in one or more research projects is considerable.  At a minimum, students who participate in these activities are better prepared for either graduate programs and or careers. 

A survey of employers demonstrates that research fosters the development of skills and competencies that are highly valued in the workplace. “Nearly all employers (91%) agree that for career success, “a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than his or her undergraduate major.”

In addition, employers are more likely to consider a candidate who had an experience completing a senior thesis/project that provides empirical evidence, substantive knowledge, problem-solving, research, and effective communication.  (Falling Short? College Learning and Career Success, 2015).

Capstone projects during the senior year are a common departmental requirement. Here, our students actively synthesize the knowledge gained in the major, presenting it to the public. For example, in Behavioral Neuroscience this takes the form of a senior thesis, a formal academic article based on disciplinary conventions. You can use your research to create a capstone that may take many forms – a community service project, a website, an exhibition, or a community intervention as well as empirical research collaborations to study the function of adenylyl cyclases and how these proteins can be targeted for treating pain and depressive disorders.

Though the analysis is time consuming, Harris finds it “kind of exhilarating.” The fatigue “is really hard” on the cancer patients, she said, so for her to be a part of making their lives better, “that’s what was most exciting for me, and it just really opened my eyes to where this type of career could be leading.” Jessica Harris, in Enlightening Minds