The Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University

CPD Undergraduate Research Program


The Center for Persons with Disabilities (CPD) at Utah State University was established in the early 1970’s to focus the expertise, talent, and resources of the university on solving the challenges facing people with disabilities. As part of a national network of similar university centers of excellence, the CPD uses grants and contracts to develop training, technical assistance, research, and demonstration programs that address a wide range of human service issues. The CPD’s mission is to improve the quality of life of people with any condition that limits their vitality or independence.

Since its inception, the CPD has provided employment, internships, fellowships, and research opportunities for thousands of USU students. The CPD Undergraduate Research Associates program formalizes the research experience for undergraduate students at USU interested in working in the human service fields.


USU students participating in CPD’s Undergraduate Research Associates program experience unique learning opportunities. In addition to being involved in world-class programs serving individuals and families facing unique challenges, participants work hand-in-hand with researchers, faculty, technicians, and specialists addressing some of society’s most challenging problems.

CPD Undergraduate Research Associates participate in projects that will result in publications, presentations, and resume-building learning experiences that place them head and shoulders above their peers. When it comes to getting your first post graduation professional job or applying to graduate school, participation as a CPD Undergraduate Research Associate will set you apart from the rest of the crowd as a doer and a person with outstanding real-life experience. CPD Undergraduate Research Associates may also qualify for a special designation as Undergraduate Researcher on their USU transcript. Details about the requirements for this special recognition are available at the Undergraduate Research Office website under Awards and Recognitions.

How to Get Involved

Connect. The first step in getting involved as a CPD Undergraduate Researcher is to identify an opportunity and a CPD mentor. For many working at the CPD as student interns, employees, therapists, or staff, this may be as simple as contacting your supervisor or principal investigator. Any undergraduate student working on a grant, contract, or project at CPD can apply to be an undergraduate research associate.

For students who are not currently working on a CPD project, give some thought to the kind of project with which you would like to be involved. It is likely that one of our research scientists, faculty, or staff may already have a project or an interest that is parallel to what you are interested in doing. You can contact the CPD Undergraduate Research Coordinator for some ideas on how you can get connected with a staff member to explore collaboration opportunities.

Plan. The second step is to develop a work plan in collaboration with your CPD mentor, supervisor, principal investigator, or program coordinator. The work plan should last for a minimum of two semesters. It may be a simple extension of work you are already doing on a CPD project, or it may be quite a bit more complicated. It depends on your interests and what you want to get out of the experience. For example, some CPD undergraduate researchers have applied for and received Undergraduate Research & Creative Opportunities (URCO) Grants from the Research Office to further their research. Others have become involved in different CPD-funded projects. Your work plan will be very specific to your goals.

Execute. The third step is to implement the work plan with your CPD research mentor. Typically, the work plan will last for at least two semesters. The amount of time you spend on your project will depend on the work scope. You may be carrying out your activities on your own, with others, as part of a research team, or you may be doing something quite different. It all depends on your topic of interest and what you work out with your CPD research mentor.

Disseminate. The final step of the CPD undergraduate research experience will be to disseminate the results of your work. Dissemination can take many forms. You may wish to present the results of your work at a poster session, conference, or workshop. You may want to write up the results and have them submitted for publication in a professional journal. You may wish to work with the CPD to publish the results online, or through one of our existing outreach and dissemination efforts. Again, it all depends on the kind of project you undertake and what the end result is to be. Funds to travel to professional conferences to present work are available through ASUSU’s Academic Opportunity Fund (AOF). When you present your work, you enhance not only your reputation but that of the University as well.

Get Involved

For more information about how you can get involved with the CPD Undergraduate Research Associates program, please contact Dr. Bryce Fifield, CPD Director, and undergraduate research coordinator.