2022 CURE Training Institute

This effort will build the institution’s capacity for providing scaled research experiences within the curriculum.  

Funds will provide initial incentives and training to support instructors in designing course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) as first-year or second-year courses. You are invited to apply to the Institute to gain insights and coaching on creating a CURE course.

For more information, please contact Rebecca Lipson, rlipson@arizona.edu

Undergraduate students can gain early research skills during their first two years while earning academic credit through a variety of course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) at the University.

Six teams were selected for the 2019-2020 CURE Training Institute Teams. Listed below are the teams and their six courses developed for spring 2021 and fall 2021. 

Dr. Corey Knox, College of Education


Offered Spring and Fall 2021

In this 2-credit course for all majors, students learn about social science and apply research methods to design and conduct a group research project. Students design and implement surveys and interviews to investigate students' experiences and views of college access, inclusion, and equity. 


Dr. Wendy Moore and Raine Ikagawa, CALS


Offered Spring 2021

The Sonoran Desert Region is home to more species of native bees than any other region of the world. In this course our main research goal will be focused on discovering and documenting the diversity of Tucson's native bees. This course provides an introductory research experience that immerses students in the process of discovering, describing, and classifying biodiversity. They explore biodiversity research using cutting edge laboratory, field, museum (curatorial), and bioinformatics techniques. The data they collect will be published and shared freely with both the scientific community and the general public. Course prerequisites: MCB 181 R&L, ECOL 182 R&L


Dr. Janet Nicol, College of Science


Offered Spring 2021, 7-week course

This is a hands-on course that provides students with an authentic research experience. The class works together with the instructor on a novel research project involving humor and well-being.


Dr. Martin Pepper, College of Science


Offered Fall 2021

This course is for first- and second-year students who would like to gain experience in cutting edge research. The class will use lasers to drill through minerals sending this material into mass spectrometry to gather new information on the regional geology around Arizona. Students will learn the basic principles of geology both globally and locally, radiogenic isotopes applied to geochronology, lab techniques for gathering new information and how to present their results in a poster.


Dr. Alise Ponsero and Dr. Bonnie Hurwitz, College of Engineering 


Offered Fall 2021

Despite a growing demand for data scientists, university training in science ethics, code licensing and best reproducibility practices are not generalized for undergraduates. In this CURE, students will conduct an assessment of the current landscape and the evolution of accessibility, documentation and reproducibility practices in bioinformatics. The CURE will be a two-credit course in the Department of Biosystems Engineering accessible to students from any college. In this CURE, students will learn and reflect upon best practices for open science and science reproducibility. Several practical skills will also be developed such as science communication, as well as the use of computational tools for code versioning and documentation.


Dr. Jessica Braithwaite and Dr. Frank Gonzalez, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences


Offered Fall 2021

In this CURE, students will work alongside School of Government and Public Policy (SGPP) faculty in partnering with local, state, federal, and international agencies to provide evidence-based policy advice, rigorous policy evaluation services, and polling and survey research and services. The workshop will involve three hours per week of class-based training and mentoring alongside six hours per week of students working on research teams tackling specific research tasks as supervised by SGPP faculty. These projects are designed in partnership with stakeholders from government and non-profit sector agencies and are designed to help solve their real-world research problems. Research topics will vary across semesters depending on associated faculty and interested stakeholders, but may include: local, state, or national public opinion surveys, human adaptation to natural disasters, public management of invasive species, diffusion of marijuana legalization policies, public attitudes towards migrants and refugees, sources of racial biases in political preference formation, coding text in multiple languages as data on violent organizations, and the use of social media data to visualize incivility in politics.

The second annual introductory workshop on CUREs was held on March 5th, 2021 with guest speaker Dr. Sara Brownell who also serves as the instructor for the CURE Training Institute. To see a replay of the workshop, please click here.

Replay WOrkshop 

Upon watching the workshop, please click here to complete this brief Introductory CURE Workshop Survey.

See other examples of CUREs at: https://serc.carleton.edu/curenet/collection.html

See a short list of examples of CUREs in the social sciences and humanities in this Google Doc

For more information, please contact Kimberly Sierra-Cajas, kjsc@arizona.edu

Dr. Sara Brownell

Dr. Sara Brownell, Facilitator

Dr. Sara Brownell is an Associate Professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University.  She received a B.S. in Biology from Cornell University, a M.S. in Biology from The Scripps Research Institute, and a M.A. in Education and a Ph.D. in Biology, both from Stanford University.   Sara is a neuroscientist turned discipline-based education researcher whose research focuses on how we can make undergraduate biology more accessible, diverse, and inclusive. Her research areas are broad and include assessing the impact of course-based undergraduate research experiences, exploring the experiences of students with covert identities in active learning classrooms, and helping to reduce students' perceived conflict between religion and evolution.  Sara's work has been highlighted in numerous news outlets including The New York Times, Scientific American, and CNN.  She is the proud recipient of the 2020 LGBTQ+ Educator of the Year award from the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals.  

“CUREs offer several advantages over research internships - they can enroll many more students and they are accessible to all students who enroll, not just the few who stand out in class, who are confident enough to approach faculty directly, or who have personal or programmatic connections that help them get access to research.” – CUREnet

Early undergraduate research experience (URE) in social sciences and humanities leads to significant gains in analytical and critical thinking skills for first- and second year students, especially for first generation students (Ishiyama, 2002). UREs, particularly during the academic year, lead to increased interest and persistence in STEM, especially for underrepresented minorities (Gregerman, 2017; Hurtado, 2009; Lopatto, 2004; Russell, 2007; Schultz et al., 2011; Rodenbusch et al., 2016). However, the traditional 1-on-1 apprenticeship model prevalent at UA limits the number of students with these experiences to a select few. CUREs have been emerging as an innovative approach to incorporating authentic research into entry-level courses (Auchincloss et al., 2014).

From CUREnet website: CURE vs. Inquiry

Inquiry instruction involves many of the features of CUREs. Similar to CUREs, inquiry instruction involves students in asking and answering scientific questions, analyzing relevant data, and making and defending arguments. Both forms of instruction aim to develop students' scientific expertise, especially their ability to engage in scientific practices. In inquiry courses, students' work may be novel, but a stakeholder outside the classroom is unlikely to be interested in the results. CUREs are distinctive in offering students opportunities to make discoveries that are of interest to stakeholders outside the classroom. CURE students have been coauthors on papers, have contributed results to research repositories, and have generated data used as preliminary results in grant proposals (see the resources below for details and examples). Because CUREs are usually integrated with a faculty member's ongoing research, CUREs are also limited in offering students complete freedom to ask and answer their own questions, as students may be able to do in an inquiry project.


  • Gentile et al. (2017). Undergraduate Research Experiences for STEM. Link
  • Dolan (2017). Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences: Current knowledge and future directions Link
  • Auchincloss et al. (2014). Assessment of Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences: A Meeting Report. Link
  • See other examples of CUREs at: https://serc.carleton.edu/curenet/collection.html

  • See a short list of examples of CUREs in the social sciences and humanities in this Google Doc

CURE Institutes have been offered across the country by CUREnet2. Co-PI of CUREnet2, Dr. Sara Brownell, will be facilitating the University of Arizona’s CURE Training Institute.

This opportunity for University of Arizona instructors is funded by a Provost Investment Fund and a U.S. Department of Education Title III HSI STEM grant. It provides initial incentives and training to support instructors in designing CUREs for first-year students. Eight teams will be selected to attend the University of Arizona's 2021 CURE Training Institute .

Timing: The Institute will take place through monthly 3-hour virtual sessions May - August. Teams will learn about and use evidence-based instructional strategies to develop plans, instructional materials, and assessment tools for integrating a research project into a CURE course.

Facilitator: TBD 

Previous facilitator: Dr. Sara Brownell, Associate Professor at ASU and Co-PI for CUREnet2, facilitated both the introductory workshop and the CURE Training Institute for 2020 and 2021. See bio under introductory workshop description.

Important Dates:

  • March 25, 2022 (tentative) - Introductory workshop on CUREs
  • April 17, 2022 – Deadline to submit application
  • May 2, 2022 – The 2021 Cohort will be notified of their selection.
  • May-June 2022 - Meeting with the evaluation team before the CURE Training Institute; complete pre-survey.

CURE Training Institute Dates:


Final dates and times for the Institute sessions will be determined by the availability of the 2022 CURE Cohort. Each session will be a 3-hour virtual training with breakouts and discussions.


  • Session 1 will take place during May 2022.  
  • Session 2 & 3 to take place during June and July 2022. 
  • Session 4 to take place between August 2022.
  • May - August 2022    Develop CURE and draft syllabus

  • Sept. 1, 2022              Submit CURE syllabus for spring course approval 
  • Fall 2022                     One learning community meeting
  • Spring 2023                Teach the CURE course; evaluator conducts two in-class observations
  • Spring 2023                One learning community meeting

Each team will receive the following:

  • $5000 plus ERE to attend the four CURE Training Institute sessions, develop and submit the CURE syllabus for course approval, and teach the course during spring 2023.
  • Funds for an undergraduate assistant may be provided if needed to support the course.
  • Individual consultations of up to 4 hours per team with the consultant during course development. 

  • Teams of University of Arizona faculty, graduate students, adjunct instructors, and post docs may apply together.
  • If instructors apply as a team, the award will be distributed according to the preference of the team.
  • Instructors at any level, including faculty, post-docs, research scientists, graduate students, and staff can apply.
  • Instructors who are new to CURE instruction and who plan to teach a CURE course aimed at first- or second-year students will be prioritized.
  • Preference will be given to teams with at least one permanent instructor who intends to continue teaching at the University of Arizona. 
  • Application will require a signature from the department head. Graduate student applicants will require the signature of a faculty mentor or advisor.

The CURE Training Institute’s Leadership Team and Selection Committee: 

  • Kimberly Sierra-Cajas, Societal Impact / STEM Learning Center / RII
  • Krista Millay, Student Engagement and Career Development
  • John O'Neil, Research, Innovation, and Impact (RII)
  • Jen Fields, Office of Societal Impacts / RII
  • Lisa Elfring, Office of Instruction and Assessment
  • Pete Reiners, College of Science
  • Rebecca Gomez, College of Science
  • Jim Hunt, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences 

  • BEFORE: Complete a pre-survey.
  • DURING: Actively participate in all sessions, submit a draft CURE syllabus to Kimberly Sierra-Cajas and Dr. Sara Brownell, submit a CURE syllabus to the University of Arizona for course approval by Sept. 1, 2021, and complete a brief end-of-Institute evaluation form.
  • AFTER: Teach the CURE course, utilize an evaluation tool suggested by the evaluation team for course participants, allow the evaluation team to observe a course session, and participate in two interviews with the evaluator.

Application Deadline: Monday, March 22, 2021, 11:59 pm

To complete the application process, you will need to prepare your responses to the application questions ahead of time and secure the appropriate signatures on the required forms.  A description of the application process is below. *Reminder: the primary target audience for the CURE must be first and second year students.

Up to two instructors may be included in the project. Faculty mentors or advisors for graduate students are not included in this limit.

Feel free to explore existing CUREs for project ideas. CUREnet suggests the following sources:

A. Complete the online application. Note: The maximum character length has been increased for the 2021 application. Be prepared to:

  • Include contact information on up to two instructors within the project team.
  • Graduate students – Be prepared to list a faculty member to advise you on the project.
  • Include a brief bio for each instructor.  (Max 1300 characters)
  • Briefly describe your team’s motivation for applying and a short description of the idea for a CURE course in such a way that those outside your discipline will understand what you plan to accomplish. Describe your or your team’s idea for the research project you plan to incorporate into a CURE course, the intended learning outcomes, and the audience for which the course will be offered. Describe how your team envisions students being able to make discoveries relevant to stakeholders and describe which stakeholders. The project should be based on a real need with genuine stakeholders who will be interested in the results. (Max 3500 characters)
  • A tentative outline of the course. (Max 3000 characters)
  • Answer the following questions in your application:
    • The course catalog number you intend to utilize to teach the CURE (e.g. CALS 297E, TLS 299, etc.)
    • A signature by the department head or college administrator indicating approval for the course catalog number to be utilized to offer the CURE within their department or college.
    • Whether you are planning to develop a new course or to convert an existing course / course section into a CURE.
    • The planned number of course units (1-unit introductory CURE, 3-units, or variable units)
    • Whether the course will be offered in-person or online

B. Upload the following document(s) at the end of the application:

  1. The Department / College Signature Form – Download this form and secure the appropriate signature. 
  2. Graduate students: A signature from your faculty advisor is required on the Participation Acknowledgement Form or if not applicable, a faculty mentor who will advise on the project. 
  3. Postdoctoral researchers and staff instructors: A signature from your supervisor is required on the Participation Acknowledgement Form

The application is now open. 

Application >>