Seattle, WA – May 31, 2023

Washington Research Foundation (WRF) has announced a $500,000 grant to the Undergraduate Research Program (URP) at the University of Washington (UW), continuing its support of the program for the next five years. WRF has awarded $1.9 million to the URP since 2004, directly supporting 199 fellows.

The URP enables students to carry out research in life sciences and related fields during their undergraduate studies, in addition to providing mentorship and networking opportunities. WRF’s fellowships support advanced research experiences for students, particularly those who have an interest in developing new technologies in much needed—often health related—areas.

Olivia Brandon, a senior who is double majoring in neuroscience and public health-global health, is using her WRF fellowship to investigate the human health benefits that might result from a deeper understanding of ferrets’ resilience to brain injuries.

“The Undergraduate Research Program has been the most influential component of my time at the University of Washington,” said Brandon. “Having the opportunity to ask a scientific question and have the tools, resources and education to properly answer it has been inspiring and has further sparked the scientist in me.”

Nearly all students who are involved in the URP move on to graduate studies upon completion of their undergraduate degrees.

“I hope to become a physician scientist where I can meaningfully contribute to improve patient care at the individual level while also contributing to research that can potentially change the field,” said Brandon. “I feel so fortunate to have the support of the URP and access to such incredible mentors and colleagues. I cannot imagine my life without research, and the URP has provided invaluable support that has helped propel my career.”

“We are thrilled to be able to continue this partnership with WRF and are so grateful for the organization’s continued support,” said Sophie Pierszalowski, Ph.D., UW undergraduate research program director. “At its core, this program is about elevating student independence in research, building students’ confidence and capacity for project ownership, and ensuring that students become embedded into strong, long-lasting communities of scholars. It is inspiring to watch each WRF Fellow make a real impact in their field of study and achieve a level of excellence that is truly impressive at the undergraduate level.”

13 WRF-funded students presented at the 26th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium earlier this month, one of the largest of its kind in the country.

“We are delighted to continue our partnership with the University of Washington in this important work to support the next generation of research leaders,” said Meher Antia, Ph.D., director of grant programs at WRF. “Investing in undergraduate research is one of the best ways we can help to advance science and innovation, and we are excited to see what the future holds for these talented young researchers.”