Meet the Office of Undergraduate Research staff

portrait of karen rodriguez'g

Karen Rodriguez'G, Director

Karen Rodriguez’G is Director of the Illinois Office of Undergraduate Research. As Director, she leads several campus-wide innovations and initiatives designed to foster, support, and enhance undergraduate research within the larger educational and research mission of the university, including: building best practice models in support of undergraduate research; recognition of faculty mentors in tenure and promotion; large-scale assessment of the impact/benefits of research; and pedagogical initiatives fostering access to the research process for underserved student populations. She is currently a Fiddler Faculty Fellow as part of a grant-funded year-long interdisciplinary research community and pedagogical initiative foregrounding the importance of the arts & humanities in global innovations. Earning her PhD in History (Modern Britain and Empire) from the U of I, her research interests include imperial/global networks of knowledge and exchange, space, place and identity, and the science of teaching and learning, particularly in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts.


portrait of Chris Holmes

Chris Holmes, Associate Director

Chris Holmes currently serves as Associate Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research as well as the co-director of the AAP Summer Research Fellowship in Integrative Biology (AAP-SRF). He received his MS (2014) and PhD (2019), both in Biology, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Chris' research interests include evolutionary ecology and the maintenance of biodiversity in natural and semi-natural habitats. As a professional, Chris aims to promote students' intrinsic motivation so as to drive self-exploration and the pursuit of knowledge. Chris' responsibilities at OUR include 1) the supervision of the day to day operational activities of the office including the oversight of office staff, programs, and budget, 2) assisting the director with the development of OUR’s strategic plan, 3) coordinating the office's outreach efforts, 4) oversight of office- and campus-level assessment efforts, 5) supporting undergraduates throughout their research journeys, and 6) serving as a liaison to the Big Ten Academic Alliance Directors of Undergraduate Research.


portrait of Kari Darby

Kari Darby, Workshops Specialist

Kari Darby serves as the Workshops Specialist for the Office of Undergraduate Research. She helps coordinate and teach ongoing workshops such as Getting Started in Research and Value of Undergraduate Research. She is currently pursuing her MS in Library and Information Science and also works with Research and Information Services to provide research assistance to students, faculty, and staff. In her position at the Office of Undergraduate Research, Kari helps students learn about research in their field, find research opportunities, and provides resources for students to get started.


portrait of Caroline Capone

Caroline Capone, Social Media and Communications Intern

Caroline Capone is a Communications major with a concentration in Mediated Communication and Technology. Growing up near Chicago’s Lakefront, Caroline has always had a keen interest in the environment, resulting in internships with Shedd Aquarium and Peggy Notebaert Museum. Her experiences involved studying foraging habits of native honeybees, pollination patterns, and creating interactive multimedia pieces. For the Office of Undergraduate Research, she manages social media presence and creates engaging content showcasing amazing research on campus.


portrait of Priyankka Krishnan

Priyankka Krishnan, Graphic Design Intern

Priyankka Krishnan is an undergraduate pursuing a Dual Degree in Psychology and in New Media. She is involved with Illini Ju Jitsu, and in her free time spends her days digitally painting and playing video games. For the Office of Undergraduate Research, she creates graphics and promotional material for all programs and initiatives.