FAQs for Current Scholars

General Questions

If I am selected, what happens next?

Once you are notified by e-mail* of your selection, please save that e-mail for your records.  The e-mail will tell you how to register for UA 155. If you are interested in this program, please leave space in your schedule for UA 155.

Before you Start: Read the ESP e-mails you receive*

*Please check your spam folder often to ensure you are receiving e-mails from emergingscholars@ua.edu  E-mails are only sent to Crimson accounts.

How will I be paired with my faculty mentor for research?

During your time in UA 155 you will interview faculty members, attend events to learn about their research, and have a chain of guess speakers to help you know about research faculty members are doing. You will have help identifying and contacting faculty mentors who share your research interests. However, ultimately, you will be responsible for connecting with and determining your faculty mentor.

What are the requirements after our research is finished?

Students are required to present research at a university-wide Undergraduate Research & Creative Activity Conference. Emerging Scholars have opportunities to learn more about poster and oral presentations before the conference date.

What happens after I complete the Emerging Scholars Program?

Once you have satisfied all of the Emerging Scholars Program requirements, we strongly encourage you to continue your research until graduation.  Through a commitment to your faculty mentor and your research, you will demonstrate to post-graduate schools and employers that you are an excellent addition to their team.

We encourage you to stay connected to the Emerging Scholars Program network of alumni and current Scholars.  All Scholars are included in the EMSP listserv, where news and information is shared with the entire Program.  You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@UA_EMSP).

Research Semester

Why are the meeting time and room for UA 156 marked “TBA”?

UA 156 is the course you will take for your research with your faculty mentor.  Because it is a research participation course that is treated like an independent study, there are no set meeting times or locations for this course.  Instead, you should arrange a weekly research schedule with your faculty mentor within the first two weeks of class.

What’s the difference between UA 156 and “Departmental Course Credit”?

UA 156 is the course for Emerging Scholars who are working with their faculty mentor during their research semester. The director of the Emerging Scholars Program is the instructor of record on this course, but your grade will be determined by your faculty mentor and submitted to Dr. Bissell at the end of the semester.

Departmental course credit is usually an independent study or undergraduate research experience course that is offered by the Department your faculty mentor is in.  Your faculty mentor and whoever is listed as the instructor on that course will determine your grade.  The names and course numbers for these types of courses varies between Departments, but your faculty mentor and academic advisor should be able to help you identify one.

The Emerging Scholars Program now requires you to take UA 156 before enrolling in departmental courses. Your faculty mentor or academic advisor may recommend you take UA 156 instead, but in order to complete the program you must take UA 156. While departmental courses satisfy a specific degree requirement, taking UA 156 ensures that if you want to continue your research or create a new project after the completion in of class, you still have options to get credit for it.

You will be able to register once you have completed UA 155.


Do I get a grade for UA 156?

YES!  You are expected to work with your faculty mentor on a schedule that both of you have agreed to until the semester is done.  Faculty mentors will recommend a grade to Dr. Bissell at the end of the semester, and students who do not actively participate in research with their faculty mentor may receive a poor grade in UA 156. Scholars may also receive an incomplete if their faculty mentor does not feel they have completed the work necessary to award credit or if a student does not return their Research Contract.


It’s my research semester. What do I do now?
  1. If you have not done so already, register for UA 156 or BEFORE the add/drop period expires (usually about two weeks after classes start).
  2. Meet with your faculty mentor within the first two weeks of class to establish a weekly research schedule or to discuss important deadlines and fill out Research Contract.
  3. Stay in contact with your faculty mentor throughout the semester and make sure your work is professional and on time.
  4. Prepare for the Spring URCA meeting.  Check your crimson email account or ESP Twitter feed for updates on URCA, workshops, and other news.
What happens if I can’t work with my faculty mentor? (Faculty Mentor Issues in General)

You and your faculty mentor should have had an opportunity to meet and discuss expectations for your research semester while you are still taking UA 155.  Sometimes, however, things do not go as planned. Below are some tips for dealing with unanticipated issues during your research semester. When in doubt, contact Dr. Bissell as soon as possible to help resolve the issue.

If you have not met with your faculty mentor by the second week of classes.  If you have a scheduled meeting, be patient.  Otherwise, be proactive and contact your mentor.  The start of the semester is a busy time for students and faculty, so it is a good idea to send a brief, professional e-mail offering some times that you are available to meet.

If you can’t get a response from your faculty mentor.  Give your mentor a reasonable amount of time to respond to your message.  Verify that the e-mail you have for them is correct.  Try visiting them during office hours, calling their office phone line, or reaching out to them in some other way if you are unable to reach them by e-mail.  If you still can’t contact your faculty mentor, contact Dr. Bissell for help.

If your class schedule interferes with your faculty mentor’s research schedule.  Some types of research do not have flexible hours, for example in studies collecting data from elementary schools during the school day.  First, remember that this is a commitment you made to the faculty mentor and see if there is some way to rearrange your schedule.  If you are unable to do the task you had originally agreed to because of an unavoidable scheduling conflict, talk to your faculty mentor about other ways you can contribute to the project.  Most projects have many different aspects, and while you may not be able to help with one, there is something else you can do to stay involved.

If you feel you and your faculty mentor are having difficulty communicating project goals.  First, talk to Dr. Bissell as a sounding board.  It is possible your conflict can be resolved without difficulty.  If not, you can discuss possible solutions and next steps.

How much time will I spend doing research?

The time commitment varies during different stages of projects, but the rule of thumb is 3 hours of work per week for every hour of course credit earned.  We recommend starting at 2 hours of credit (through UA 156 or a Departmental course), which will equal about six hours per week of research work.

If your mentor expects that you spend more time than this, he or she will make that clear prior to the start of your research semester.

Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) Conference

Do I have to participate in the URCA conference? If so, when?

Yes.  All Emerging Scholars are required to present their research at one Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities Conference.

You will participate in the URCA conference immediately following your completion of UA 156.  For those completing UA 156 in the Fall, that means you will present in the Spring.  For those completing UA 156 in the Spring, you will present at the URCA conference one year later.


My research isn’t done! How can I present at URCA?

Many of you will have just started your research projects by the time abstracts are due for URCA.  You can present your “research in progress,” but we encourage you to wait until the following year when you can submit a comprehensive project.  For more information about how to submit “research in progress,” visit the URCA website.