I am convinced that undergraduates benefit from doing research, and especially by working on projects of their own. As an undergraduate I found it incredibly rewarding to produce new knowledge and discoveries in science, and to not just learn (and get tested on) already discovered knowledge. For example, when I was a college student at the College of Idaho, I did an independent field and museum research project on Pliocene mammals from southwestern Idaho that I had spent a summer collecting. This project became my undergraduate senior thesis and later my M.S. thesis. I gave my first presentation on this research as a college senior at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in 1986. Doing research (and presenting it at a national meeting) was one of the most important activities that I did in college, both personally and professionally.
Based on my own experience doing research as an undergraduate student, I encourage students to become involved in research. At California State University, Stanislaus, I have included many undergraduates in research projects. Additionally, I strongly encourage my students to present and publish their research at national conferences. Attached is a list of recent student projects and publications.
Currently, students can get involved in my local research project on the 5 million year old giant salmon, tortoise, and other extinct wildlife of the Central Valley of California.
Additionally, we are working on the sedimentology and depositional environments of the Mehrten Formation.
Students are involved in all aspects of the research, from field work at Turlock Lake; to museum work at the University of California Berkeley Museum of Paleontology; to presentations at conferences.