Greetings, fellow researchers! My name is Levent Atici and I am the Executive Director of Office of Undergraduate Research. Today, I’m profoundly privileged and honored to welcome you all to the week-long and immersive Fall 2021 Virtual Undergraduate Research Symposium brought to you by the Office of Undergraduate Research and its talented team. I would like to recognize and commend OUR’s Dr. Rafael Oganesyan, Ms. Susan Hall, and Ms. Kira Tran for their excellent work.

I also would like to recognize our partners from UNLV’s Center for Academic Enrichment and Outreach and namely identify my colleagues, Drs. Keith Rogers and Matt Dellasalla for their contributions to this event and for their commitment to research education at UNLV.

As you can imagine the COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected everyone’s ability to pursue business as usual. We are just concluding another fall term, unlike any other in recent memory, despite all the challenges. We, the undergrad research community, led by our faculty, continue to expand, enhance, and advance undergraduate research education at UNLV. As such, I would like to passionately commend UNLV’s dedicated faculty research mentors who now have a tested commitment to excellence in teaching and research during these trying times. We’re proud to celebrate the outstanding research you conduct with your undergraduate student mentees and colleagues in the making.

I would also like to express my most sincere gratitude to President Whitfield, Provost Heavey, and Vice President for Research Synakowsky for strongly endorsing undergraduate research education at the highest level at UNLV.

Fellow researchers, 21st century challenges require 21st century skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving since there has been a shift in perspective from content base, conventional learning to experiential, active or discovery learning to bridge the gap between academia and the real world. We all live and function in a complex and globally connected word and our students ability to ask the right questions, locate evidence, evaluate findings, be critical of concepts, claims, and arguments, judge credible knowledge and form sound and inform decisions now is most imperative than ever given the sheer size of digital data that are instantly and globally available, accessible and multiplied every second by numerous digital outlets.

This is where undergraduate research comes to play and provides rich programs to help our students develop all of these critical skills leading to cognitive, behavioral, and psychological gains.

With 230 undergrad researchers from diverse backgrounds and from the entire spectrum of degrees offered at UNLV, our Fall 2021 Virtual Undergraduate Research Symposium epitomizes research at UNLV in the broadest, most inclusive, transdisciplinary, and collaborative sense to bridge the gap between content learning and discovery learning. UNLV is now recognized as one of the nation’s top research universities, and our faculty and student researchers generate not only headlines and high impact research, but also current, relevant, and community-based research outputs.

I am most impressed and proud to see how in recent years most of our students have applied their skills to addressing such critical agendas as crises brought on by the pandemic, social injustice, and climate change. Today and tomorrow, we are here to support you as you embark on your research journey. Today, we are here to celebrate your accomplishments. It’s all about you!

Thank you for presenting your research or simply just attending the Fall 2021 Virtual Undergraduate Research Symposium and for giving us the opportunity to be a part of your research journey as the leaders, innovators, and pioneers of the future to push the boundaries of knowledge. At UNLV’s OUR, we say YES to undergraduate research and we invite you to join us! Thank you.

Levent Atici, Ph.D.
Executive Director of Undergraduate Research & Professor of Anthropology