Undergraduate Research Ambassador

Undergraduate Research Ambassadors (URAs) are a multidisciplinary team of passionate, experienced researchers who support the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning (OSEEL) in promoting a culture of research across all colleges on campus. URAs mentor fellow undergraduates who are new to research, develop, participate and engage in undergraduate research outreach efforts, assist OSEEL with developing and implementing student-focused workshops that represent NIU's diverse array of disciplines and serve as undergraduate research liaisons.

Meet the 2023-2024 Undergraduate Research Ambassadors

Reach out to a URA today to learn more about getting involved with undergraduate research at NIU.

Hannah Havel

Major: Computer Science and OM&IS with a minor in Spanish

The fields of physics and math with possible computer science applications, such as programming, artificial intelligence, or data analysis. I am currently working in the Department of Mathematical Sciences on a project to further understand the N-body problem, dealing with celestial mechanics and GPU parallel computing.

Career goal: Beyond graduate school, I want to work on a research campus or for a corporation that is dedicated to innovation.

Interesting fact about me: I play the alto saxophone and love jazz.

Advice for fellow undergrad researchers: Embrace every experience, even if it is not relevant to your anticipated career goals; there is a lot to learn from faculty and from working in a research setting.

Favorite thing about NIU: the supportive faculty and staff.

Merveille Muyizere

Merveille MuyizereMajor: Biological Sciences with minors in Chemistry and French

Research interests: My favorite thing about NIU is its diversity. NIU is filled with people from all different kinds of backgrounds and cultures. This is a great thing because you are able to learn about different cultures and gain new perspectives.

Career goal: Medical school after completing undergrad and becoming a doctor after.

Interesting fact about me: I am part of the Capoeira club (Brazilian dance mixed with martial arts)

Advice for fellow undergrad researchers: "Do not be afraid to explore, and challenge yourself"

Favorite thing about NIU: All the different involvement opportunities for students.

Will Parker

Major: Electrical Engineering

Research Interests: electromagnetic wave propagation, antenna radiation patterns, control systems design

Career Goal: Professional Engineer, Doctor of Medicine

Interesting Fact: This year I am working on a senior design project in electrical engineering.

Advice: Research can seem confusing and intimidating, but it is straightforward, and you have many resources with your mentor, research ambassadors, and other faculty in Research Rookies that can help you succeed.

Favorite thing about NIU: I really enjoy the NIU community and making friends with different types of people.

Anna Scanlan

Major: Electrical Engineering

Major: Psychology and Media Studies with minors in English and History with a Creative Writing certificate

Research interests: My research interests focus on the cyclical relationship between society and media. Over the past few years, I have focused on WWII movies, historical accuracy, and various movements of feminism. This year I’m taking a completely different approach. I will be working on a meta analysis of literature on Homer’s Helen with the goal to pinpoint what social influences shape scholars’ perceptions of the character.

Career goal: I want to be able to explore my research questions through documentary filmmaking. Additionally, it would fulfill a lifelong childhood dream to become a fiction novelist.

Interest fact about me: I read too many books in my free time and like to bake when I’m stressed.

Advice for fellow undergrad researchers: Let your imagination drive your projects. Think of cool topics that interest you! If you can’t answer the specific question you have in mind, chances are you can find an interesting spin-off that fits the limitations and equipment that you are dealing with. Use your research to feed your own personal curiosities.

Favorite thing about NIU: I’ve met so many cool people here with some super awesome interests. These people have inspired me to jump headfirst into my own creative and academic interests and find a way to make my goals and dreams possible.


Henry Tomiser

Major: Psychology with minors in Communicative Disorders and Cognitive Science

Research Interests: My research interests include the language development of autistic children and the relationship between autism and higher-level conceptual understanding. As a part of this research, I embrace a neuroaffirming perspective that considers autism a natural and valuable form of human neurodiversity.

Career Goal: I plan to become a Speech-Language Pathologist and researcher with the goal of improving scientific understanding of autistic development, increasing access to important services, and advocating for the autistic community.

Interesting Fact about me: In my free time, I enjoy reading and practicing yoga.

Advice for fellow undergrad researchers: Talk to everyone around you! The connections you make with other researchers are essential. You never know who will spark your next great idea or become your next mentor/collaborator.

Favorite thing about NIU: The many clubs and organizations NIU offers.

Yaileen Velazquez

Major: Biological Sciences with a minor in Chemistry

Research Interests: My current research interests are woman's health, medicine, diversity, equity, and inclusion, endocrinology, and social biology. I am abundantly thankful that during my time at NIU, I have had the opportunity to explore, learn, and expand on several of my research interests. 

Career goal: Becoming a physician and mentor.

Interesting fact about me: I thoroughly enjoy exploring new coffee shops and completing puzzles.

Advice for fellow undergrad researchers: Everyone is fit to conduct research! The world is filled with infinite subjects, places, and things that need to be explored and studied more thoroughly. Do not be afraid to pursue research. Your great mind, innovations, and passion can make a great impact in research.

Favorite thing about NIU: Permitting me to cross paths with the sweetest and most hardworking individuals that I am lucky to call my best friends.

Want to Become an Undergraduate Research Ambassador?

Learn more about being an Undergraduate Research Ambassadorincluding duties, requirements, benefits and timeline to apply.

Diana Alvarez
Do not be afraid to try it. Starting research can seem very difficult and intimidating but there are so many resources and professors who would be willing to guide and mentor you to success.
Diana Alvarez, 2022-23 URA,
Health sciences (pre-nursing) with a minor in computer science

Contact Us

Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning
Holmes Student Center 264-266
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