Duke Undergraduate Research Society

Constitution and By-Laws

Revised December 2011 (Peter Dong, Nick Schwartz, Arun Sharma, Vivek Subramanian)


I. This organization will be known as the Duke Undergraduate Research Society (DURS) and will be referred to as DURS for the remainder of the Constitution.

II. The principal goal of DURS is to introduce research to undergraduate students at Duke University. DURS aims to promote research among undergraduate students as well as foster the intellectual development of students who have already taken an interest in conducting research.

III. Secondly, DURS is committed to strengthening relationships between faculty and students. Duke University is home to some of the world’s leading scholars in their respective fields, and DURS acts to facilitate interaction between professors and undergraduates. DURS also offers faculty and members of the Duke research community the opportunity to discuss their research with undergraduates as well as share their experiences as researchers. At the same time, DURS will act as a channel for faculty members interested in seeking motivated undergraduate students for membership as researchers on their projects and/or in their laboratories.

IV. Thirdly, DURS functions as a resource to undergraduates who are seriously considering a future career in research. DURS presents an opportunity for interested undergraduates to promote and present their own research and will seek to include students at all levels of experience. Many students at Duke are currently involved in their own independent study projects or have worked on such projects in the past. DURS will offer these students an exciting chance to introduce and explain their research to their peers who will be able to discuss their work. These conversations will serve as invaluable experience for students preparing to present to wider audiences during lab meetings or seminars as well as learning opportunities to stimulate intellectual conversation on current work being done at Duke University. DURS also helps provide advice concerning summer programs and graduate school for those interested.

V. The Executive Board of DURS must ensure that the organization runs at a high level of quality, encompassing every aspect of the operation from the events to the promotional materials. DURS must offer a website as well as other online media that include updated material and resources for interested undergraduates. The organization must also frequently hold events throughout each semester, with a minimum of four events, flunches or campus event participations per semester. The main goal of DURS is to host events that benefit and act as services to the undergraduate student body. These events do not include “general-body meetings”, which are highly discouraged, or executive officer meetings.


I. All undergraduate students enrolled at Duke University will be eligible to attend any DURS event or run for a DURS executive position. There are no official DURS “members”.

II. DURS executives will consist of a chosen 8-member Executive Board.

III. DURS will participate in the fall semester’s Student Activities Fair to attract student interest.


I. Two Co-chairs will be responsible for conducting the general operations of DURS and will jointly lead the DURS Executive Board. Each Co-chair will act as the highest official representative of DURS. The two Co-chairs should work in harmony with each other as well as the Executive Board in developing the general focus and direction of DURS.

II. In addition to the Co-chairs, the DURS Executive Board will consist of a Secretary, a Treasurer, a Liaison, a Programs Manager, and two Events Organizers.

III. The Faculty Advisor(s) will be Duke University faculty members in the natural sciences, social sciences or humanities who shall meet with the Co-chairs regularly to advise the Co-chairs on the proceedings and direction of DURS.

IV. To ensure maximum organizational continuity and increase in officer experience, the term of a board member is permanent and will last until graduation, resignation or removal by other members of the board.

V. Roles

A. Co-chairs should be members of the Duke undergraduate student body who are actively pursuing a passion for academic discovery and understanding through research. They will preside over and run meetings as well as decide meeting times and frequency at the beginning of the semester while making any later necessary changes. Co-chairs should work closely with the rest of the Executive Board to make sure all aspects of the organization function properly. Co-chairs must carefully consider the opinions and suggestions of the other members of the Board, yet also have the right to remove officers due to lack of performance (which must be preceded with at least one warning). They will also be responsible for generating ideas for events to be held during meetings and act as the principal spokespeople for DURS in the Duke community. Co-chairs should, in addition, strive to establish strong relationships with the faculty at Duke. They should also meet with the Faculty Advisor on a regular basis or as needed to discuss the general state of the organization. Most importantly, Co-chairs should be constantly thinking about how to make DURS better.

B. The Secretary shall be in charge of taking notes at all meetings as well as maintaining an archive of past organizational activity. He or she should also work with the Webmaster to coordinate the posting of relevant notes and other materials online. The Secretary should work to keep all materials available to everyone within DURS.

C. The Treasurer shall be in charge of keeping track of organizational spending as well as preparing and managing the budget. The Co-chairs should meet with the Treasurer frequently to discuss the amount of funds available for spending. He or she should keep an updated log of withdrawals from and deposits into the DURS account and make the list of transactions available for all DURS members to view. It is the Treasurer’s responsibility to ensure all transactions of DURS are approved by the Co-chairs.

D. The Liaison shall be in charge of creating and maintaining relationships with other student organizations and universities. He or she should use these relationships to complement and/or improve DURS events and outreach.

E. The Programs Manager shall be in charge of maintaining and overseeing DURS programs, including dCRUE, Research Scholars, and others that may be introduced in the future. He or she should also be entrusted with the implementation of new programs.

F. The two Events Organizers shall be in charge of planning and coordinating DURS events.

VI. The Executive Board Officers shall meet frequently to discuss future projects and plans. At least one meeting per month is highly suggested. All officers shall be free to speak freely at each meeting, with honest dialogue, debate and discussion encouraged. All officers are required to participate in discussing ideas and plans for DURS in addition to their outlined roles.


I. Activities and events held by DURS will reflect the three primary goals outlined in the Preamble of this Constitution.

II. The first goal of DURS is to expose academic research to new Duke undergraduates as well as a broader population of the undergraduate population. At the beginning of the year, DURS will specifically reach out to freshmen through activity fairs and mailing lists. In addition to the general undergraduate population, DURS will specifically target groups and minorities that are traditionally underrepresented in scientific research. During this time, DURS will hold workshops introducing the idea of conducting research while giving students tips on how to begin research in a setting they are interested in. For students interested in research and medicine, joining the right lab is a crucial part of the undergraduate experience. The more time a student spends in a lab, the greater opportunity a student will have to understand the lab’s research, work in the field, and become familiar with pertinent techniques. The student will then be able to increase his or her involvement with research and quickly gain experience. DURS will aim to increase the number of freshmen and sophomores who engage in research and hopefully build their love of academic discovery.

III. DURS will also be focused on promoting faculty-student interaction. To this end, DURS will coordinate dinners and seminars with faculty which will allow them to discuss their research and profession at length. DURS will also provide the medium allowing faculty to invite students to visit their laboratories in order to gain a more hands-on introduction to their work. These opportunities will not only be great learning experiences, but will also serve as introductions to faculty members’ specific fields of study. Such events with faculty members, in addition, will provide students with examples of various academic research experiences and will hopefully work to better inspire and engage students with their own work. During these talks, members of DURS will be able to question faculty members about their work, as well as get to know them on a more personal level on the subjects of their life, education and inspiration for their work.

IV. DURS will also aim to provide an opportunity for students already well-acquainted with research to refine and deepen their interests. Seminars will be organized around other skills required for conducting research. Some sample topics to be discussed will include “chalk talks,” writing research proposals and/or grants, creating posters, learning about statistical tools for interpreting data, and common research techniques, among others. Many of these skills are vital to achieving success in research. Students are often unable to learn about such topics in special, focused settings before they need to apply these skills. DURS will strive to meet these needs through seminars led by both students and faculty. In addition, DURS will provide an outlet for students to give presentations on their own projects to faculty and their peers, who will be able to discuss and offer advice. Possible opportunities include Duke-organized poster presentations such as Visible Thinking and research symposia among Duke students and those at other universities in the Research Triangle area.


I. To ensure that the very best candidates will continue operating DURS at the highest level outlined in the Preamble Section V, all executive appointments (including future co-chairs) will be selected by the co-chairs. Officer selection will be held during the December of each academic year for all positions held by a senior or outgoing officer, and these positions will begin the next semester, with all seniors play an “emeritus” role. All candidates must be full-time students at Duke University during the following academic year and show exceptionally strong commitment, enthusiasm, inspiration and true passion for research (especially among Co-chair candidates). In addition, candidates should also have strong collaborative skills and be willing to communicate with other DURS officers whenever needed.

II. The selection committee will consist of the two co-chairs.

III. Should a position(s) be vacant for the following year, incumbent non-senior Executive Board officers may run for the position, and will keep their incumbent position if not selected.

IV. In the event of resignation or removal, a new selection will be made as soon as possible.

V. Those who wish to run for office must submit a short statement of 300 words describing why he/she aspires to be an officer as well as how he/she could contribute to the organization. Additionally, he/she should be made available for an optional chat about their interest in DURS.

VI. An officer wishing to resign must submit a statement to the other officers explaining his/her reasons for resignation.

VII. An executive officer who is determined unfit for further involvement in DURS may be removed at the discretion of the Co-chairs, with one at least one warning given beforehand.


I. The budget will be prepared at the beginning of each semester by the Treasurer and Co-chairs. Elements of the budget will include the cost of food, shirts, travel expenses, journal subscriptions, and other miscellaneous expenses. The budget will be submitted to DSG at the start of the semester and will be maintained throughout the semester by the Treasurer.

II. Additional items on the budget may also be requested through the Undergraduate Research Support Office. These transactions must also be recorded.


I. Amendments to this Constitution can be proposed by any officer of DURS at any time. Ratification of any amendment will require approval of at least two-thirds of all officers (6/8). If the amendment fails to be ratified, it cannot be proposed again for a period of one year.

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