Connie Varnhagen is a Professor and the Academic Director of the Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI) at the University of Alberta. URI fills a key interdisciplinary role at the U of A by helping undergraduate students learn how and why to become involved in research activities, as well as enhancing their student experience and contributing to the advancement of knowledge and creative activities. Informally referred to as “eHarmony for research”, URI brokers wide-ranging research opportunities for undergraduate students. URI receives its funding through donations to the U of A through the Annual Fund and directed donations.
Connie has promoted undergraduate research throughout her career, introducing undergraduate students to the great discoveries occurring at the U of A, providing an enquiry-based learning environment within her courses, and mentoring students as they conduct basic and applied research into important issues in society. On the side, she works with non-profit companion animal spay and neuter around the world to help control companion animal overpopulation and support the human-animal bond.