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RISE Above – Undergraduate Research

Apply what you learn in the classroom on campus and beyond through undergraduate research. Explore a topic related to your career interest or graduate school. Build skills and experience to strengthen your résumé, to land competitive jobs, or to get into a competitive graduate school. Develop critical-thinking skills and increase your interaction and learning from your professors with one-on-one faculty-mentored research projects.

Milligan’s RISE Above program provides opportunities for students to participate in experiences of faculty-mentored research and creative expression. Many of our students conduct research, perform on stage, exhibit original artwork, present at conferences, and publish written works. It all starts with your burning question—what interests you? The topics are limitless. Our students have studied everything from the effects of exercise on a McDonald’s diet to video game music as an art form. They have completed research experiences with renowned experts in medicine and behavioral science and presented posters and papers on Capitol Hill and at national conferences.

Undergraduate students are encouraged to participate in at least one extensive learning project beyond the classroom before you graduate. Build on your classroom education and explore a topic of real interest to you.

Value. Examine. Create. Share.

RISE Above is designed to move traditional undergraduate students progressively through four major outcomes. In the freshman and sophomore years, building on courses already in place, RISE Above will focus on strengthening connections between knowledge and skill and promoting the inherent value of participating in research. In the junior and senior years, students will be invited to work on independent research projects, mentored by Milligan professors, and present their findings in a public forum.

Benefits of Undergraduate Research

The benefits of undergraduate research activities are well-documented.

  • Students who participate can expect academic and cognitive gains as well as enhanced career development and preparation for graduate school.
  • Faculty-mentors reap intrinsic benefits—finding personal and professional satisfaction in modeling life-long learning through relationships with students—and they benefit from the professional development that can come from such activities.
  • Institutions benefit from the activities and excitement that come to a campus when faculty and students collaborate on research.
  • Students who enroll in mentored research courses can pursue additional research activities and be recognized as research scholars at graduation. Research Scholar Application

Mentored Research

In recognition of the many benefits of undergraduate research, the University implemented the Rise Above program in 2012 to significantly increase the number of students who participate in undergraduate research.

Students seeking to pursue undergraduate research for credit will identify a faculty mentor who will support and facilitate the research initiative, including the completion of one or more courses in which research is the focus. These “RISE” courses are available across the University’s academic offerings. “Rise” courses are available in all academic disciplines. Courses are numbered 499A, 499B, and 499C.

This faculty-mentored set of independent research courses will allow for an in-depth study of a specific question relevant to the discipline. At the successful conclusion of three credit-hours (499A, B, and C), students will have submitted a substantive paper with bibliography and will have publicly presented their findings.



Students enrolled in 499A are considered to be in the “formative” stage of their research project. Students should enroll in 499A if they are in the early stages of forming their project ideas and when considerable work still needs to be done before new knowledge or creative works can be started.

Depending on the discipline, students may do any of the following kinds of activities:

  • find and read relevant literature
  • develop an annotated bibliography
  • identify key methods, theories, or models to guide the project
  • develop foundational research skills
  • attend research planning meetings
  • write a research proposal
  • shadow or assist more advanced researchers, etc.

499 Enrollment Form


Students enrolled in 499B are considered to be in the “productive” stage of their research project. Students should enroll in 499B if their project idea is well-formed and the student has the necessary background information and skills to begin the hard work of carrying out their planned project.

Depending on the discipline, students may do any of the following kinds of activities:

  • collect data
  • write
  • create
  • initiate contacts with participants/agencies
  • get IRB approval
  • organize the data
  • establish reliability and validity of methods, etc.

499 Enrollment Form


Students enrolled in 499C are considered to be in the “culminating” stage of their research project. Students should enroll in 499C if their project is largely done and ready for final presentation.

Depending on the discipline, students may do any of the following kinds of activities:

  • analyze data
  • write conclusions
  • finalize project/paper
  • submit for conference
  • prepare presentation
  • attend and present at a conference
  • submit for publication, etc.

Regardless of the discipline, students enrolled in 499C are expected to have a written paper with bibliography either as their final product or as an accompanying description of their project. Students in 499C are also required to make their project public through a presentation at an appropriate public venue.

This may be accomplished in any of the following ways: giving an oral or poster presentation at a conference, giving a gallery talk, or putting on a performance. Students are encouraged to present at Milligan’s annual RISE Above Research Conference to meet this requirement.

499 Enrollment Form

Research Conferences

Local Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conferences


Milligan University
April 11, 2024 (Abstracts due March 11)

Students at Milligan will have a chance to present their research to an audience of their peers and faculty. All 499C students are encouraged to present even if they have already presented elsewhere and students not enrolled in 499C are welcome to present faculty-sponsored research projects. Poster and oral presentation options will be available. More information about registering can be found at Rise Above Undergraduate Research, Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference.


Spring Conference (Abstracts due late fall)

The STR Program was developed as an expanded and enhanced program to replace Posters on the Hill and REU Symposium while drawing on their successes. This program will broaden participation allowing for engagement from students at varied stages of the undergraduate research process. they will learn valuable skills in communicating the impact of their undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative inquiry experience to a variety of audience members and stakeholders.

The National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) 2024

The National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) is dedicated to promoting undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity in all fields of study by sponsoring an annual conference for students. Unlike meetings of academic professional organizations, this gathering of student scholars welcomes presenters from all institutions of higher learning and from all disciplines. The 2024 Conference will be held April 8-10 in Long Beach, California.


Spring Conference

The Stone-Campbell Journal is designed for students, scholars, and ministers of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement who think deeply about the Bible, theology, and issues related to our common heritage.

The 47th Appalachian Studies Association Conference

March 7-9, 2024

As the 47th Annual Appalachian Studies Association Conference approaches, Western Carolina University would like to welcome submissions! The 2024 Program Committee invites proposals for panels, papers, posters, roundtables, performances, or workshops. The full call for participation with details for online submission is now available.

Annual Appalachian Research Symposium

The Symposium is open to all undergraduate and graduate students of all disciplines from all colleges and universities doing work pertaining to Appalachia. Registration is free for both presenters and registered attendees. The Symposium is intended to foster a supportive community in which students from various fields can present their Appalachian-based research and creative work. This year’s Symposium will provide an opportunity for students to network, collaborate, learn from each others’ findings, and explore issues relevant to Appalachian communities. Students creating performance or visual artworks related to Appalachia are strongly encouraged to participate.

Abstract Submission: To be considered for inclusion in the Symposium, students should submit a 200-250 word abstract (a brief summary/overview of your work) online by 5 pm ET on Friday, February 9th, 2024. Notice of submission acceptance will be emailed by February 9th. To submit an abstract, please use this form: 2024 Abstract Submission Form.

Symposium Registration: Registration for attendance is online and due by 5 pm ET on Friday, February 16th, 2024. All presenters must also register as attendees. Registration will ensure seating and refreshments. To register: 2024 Registration Form (for both presenters and non-presenting attendees)


Spring Conference

The ETSU Appalachian Student Research Forum is an annual event in which undergraduate, graduate and medical students as well as post-doctoral fellows and medical residents present their research in a formal setting. The Forum is open to all colleges and universities within the Appalachian region. Participation is free!

Get ready to celebrate Undergraduate Research Week (URW) on April 15- 19, 2024

On November 16, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives declared the week of April 11, 2011, as “Undergraduate Research Week.” Since that time, Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) has designated a week in April each year as “Undergraduate Research Week.” This is a national celebration in which CUR showcases what other campuses are doing to celebrate UR, congratulate students on their research, and thank those faculty and mentors who have helped guide the way for UR.​ 

Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference

Spring Conference

Undergraduate students from institutions throughout the Southern Appalachian region will be chosen to present their research projects in a comfortable setting surrounded by other researchers and faculty. This year’s conference will be a one-day event, with sessions starting mid-morning. There will also be a poster session and a reception for all participants and faculty. On April 1, 2022, the conference will take place in King University’s Student Center Complex, located at their campus in Bristol, Tennessee.

Additional conferences can be found at the Council on Undergraduate Research.


Joy Drinnon
Professor of Psychology; Director of Undergraduate Research

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