Monterey Bay

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center: Supporting Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, Creative Activity for 10 Years

Undergraduate Research



​CSU Monterey Bay’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center (UROC) began in 2009 as the first centralized undergraduate research office in the CSU. More than a decade later, UROC has grown into a robust center with nine full-time staff that brings opportunities for research, scholarship and creative activity to students from across majors and colleges. 

The center offers first- and second-year research engagement programs, individually mentored research experiences for undergraduates at all levels at CSUMB and partner institutions, an international research expedition program in Costa Rica and a wide range of course-based research opportunities. 

​UROC is also a campus resource center, providing information about student research opportunities, conferences, scholarships and fellowships, and graduate school preparation. The center hosts research, scholarship and creative activity showcases on campus three times per year. 

UROC student research, scholarship and creative activities span the disciplines, as demonstrated by the work of Erin Mansel, Selena Velasquez and Sonia Olmos, all UROC and Ronald E. McNair scholars. 

A senior in cinematic arts and technology, Mansel spent a summer at Columbia University in New York as a researcher for the award-winning Fox/NBC television comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” She worked in Los Angeles on outreach for a film about Robin Williams and Lewy body dementia, and a documentary on the transgender experience in America under the Trump administration. 

Mansel also studied in London as a Gilman Scholar. At CSUMB, Mansel produced an award-winning film, “Screaming in Silence.” The Monterey Film Commission recognized her for outstanding academic achievement and commitment to showcasing diversity in film. Forbes magazine honored her as a “2019 Under 30 Scholar.”

Velasquez, a senior psychology major, is a 2019 recipient of the CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement as well as a Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholarship. She is a first-generation college student, and her research examines access and equity in higher education, with a focus on success for underrepresented students. 

Velasquez worked with the Student Success Equity Research Center (SSERC) at University of California, Santa Cruz, to evaluate the needs of underrepresented students in engineering, with the goal of launching new support services. As a future doctoral student dedicated to diversity, Velasquez aims to explore how universities can better understand and holistically support underrepresented students’ academic and personal journey through college. 

Olmos, a senior majoring in Chicanx studies, is the first recipient of the UROC Arts and Humanities Research Grant. Her upbringing as a first-generation student in a Salvadoran/Mexican household informs and empowers her research at the intersections of gender, sexuality, mythology and storytelling. 

The stories told by the women in her family inspired Olmos’ journey into research. The women would share the myths and legends of El Salvador, such as the one of La Sigüanaba, a phantom that appears to be a beautiful woman and lures men to their deaths. 

The stories sparked a curiosity about how such myths shape Salvadoran women’s understanding of their bodies and sexuality. Olmos explored this in her first research paper and later transformed it into a grant-funded, creative mixed-media project. 

Her two UROC-supported summer research experiences in oral history deepened her understanding of Chicana/Latina feminism. This led her t​o apply for and receive a second grant to create her own digital oral history collection. 

This growing collection, the first to document the experience of Latinx muxeres at CSUMB, includes the stories of 15 Latinx muxeres engaged in student leadership at CSUMB. By utilizing Digital Commons to preserve and share these stories, Olmos hopes to demonstrate how the campus vision statement is alive in their service, social justice, activism and academic excellence.