Janet McGlynn, UMBC’s director of communication and outreach for the Office of Undergraduate Education, is retiring after sixteen years of helping students connect to professional and research opportunities within their areas of study.
McGlynn’s responsibilities included managing Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day, the Undergraduate Research Awards and the UMBC Review. URCAD is an annual event where UMBC student researchers present their findings. As McGlynn said, “The whole campus has adopted URCAD as a signature event with more than 2,000 attendees each year.”
She also worked to promote undergraduate research to students through “myUMBC posts, presentations in classes, messages to students by major, fliers on bulletin boards, collaboration with department chairs and faculty members, orientation advising, classroom presentations, Facebook posts and coordination with student service offices such as Off-campus Student Services, Career Services, Shriver Center and Student Life.”
During McGlynn’s tenure, participation in undergraduate research at UMBC improved dramatically. From 2005 to 2016, the number of URCAD participants grew from 60 to 250 students. In addition, as McGlynn said, “In the beginning, I was not involved in the systematic promotion of summer research programs. Now we spend a lot of time organizing that information, pointing students to the opportunities and helping them to have strong applications.”
In addition to encouraging students to pursue research, McGlynn worked to connect students to different opportunities relevant to their specific disciplines. She worked hard to make sure students at UMBC were as prepared as possible. She reviewed applicants’ resumes and personal statements to ensure that the applicants were presenting themselves in the best possible light.
There will be a student reception on Wednesday, Feb. 1 for McGlynn to say goodbye to her students and for students to meet the new Director of Undergraduate Research and Nationally Competitive Scholarships, April Householder. The reception will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Sherman Hall 113.
Many students benefited from McGlynn’s work at UMBC and she is hoping that as many students as possible are encouraged to go into undergraduate research. She believes there are many benefits of undergraduate research for students in all majors, including the chance to “experience the work of their field and understand whether this is work they want to do” and to “contribute to the discovery of new knowledge or creation of new art.”
As a result of her work, finding research opportunities is easier than ever for UMBC students. The undergraduate research website is constantly updated with new information and the myMajor function allows students to find research opportunities within their own fields. The Undergraduate Research group on myUMBC posts new research opportunities, highlights a “Researcher of the Week” and informs students about events at UMBC such as workshops and URCAD. These workshops include information about NIST SURF, research for new students and help for writing abstracts.
McGlynn leaves with simple advice to those thinking about doing undergraduate research: “Do it. Start now.”