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Letter from the Guest Editor:

Undergrad Research in First Two Years Can Make Huge Impact

Kaatje Kraft, Whatcom Community College

In March I had the joy of watching my students present their research on soil and water quality to farmers from a local organic farm who support returning veterans ( Seeing that their research had meaning and value made the students excited about all the work they had done on their projects. It is experiences like these that led me to guest edit this issue of In the Trenches.

Faculty members who teach at the introductory level frequently hear about the obstacles our students face to persist and be successful. It is easy to think that this may mean that standards need to be lowered in order for students to be successful or that we can not take risks that overly challenge students in the first two years—and yet undergraduate research (UGR) in the first two years proves quite the contrary. In this issue, you will learn more about why UGR in the first two years is considered a highimpact activity and see some concrete examples that range from individual student projects to whole class projects. In the table below is a basic breakdown of the key ideas for each article. I hope you'll find some inspiration for your own teaching practices.

Would you like to learn more about resources that exist around UGR in the first two years? A recent On the Cutting Edge Workshop brought together resources, sample activities, and ideas from faculty at two and four-year colleges/universities across the country. You can find the results at

In addition, be sure to check out the Council for Undergraduate Research ( An organization dedicated to implementing UGR for all students at all levels, it has a geoscience-affiliated subdivision: Learn from others and be inspired!