Since 2000, the College of Letters and Science has hosted an Undergraduate Research Symposium every year. The program is an opportunity for undergraduate students to showcase their research in their fields of study.
Dr. Charles Clark, associate dean of the College of Letters and Sciences, said that it’s a “chance for them [students] to feel they’re having a professional experience.” Well over 130 students participated in the Research Symposium last year on April 30. Every department in the university was represented in the event. The topics ranged from “The Myth of the Gypsy Fortuneteller in Reality and Literature” to “Synthesis of Conjugated Bidentate Ligands.” Each group or individual had a faculty mentor in his or her discipline to help with the research.
Rebecca Levine, a current graduate of psychology, presented her research on the psychology of dance at last year’s symposium. “It was nice to show people something you’ve worked so hard on… it’s as if it becomes your baby. Like a parent, you want to show off your pride and joy… what you’ve built from scratch and watch grow.”
Sarah Pogell, associate professor of English, said that the symposium gives students the opportunity to “participate in a body of knowledge.”
The research symposium will take place on April 29 this school year in the Science Building on campus for three hours in the afternoon. The symposium is made to replicate a professional conference.
One way that undergraduate students can present their research is through an oral presentation. The students get a chance to present their information with another student who did research related to theirs. After they present their information, the audience gets to ask questions about their study, that the students can answer.
Most research in the sciences, however, are presented in poster displays, which cover the science building walls on the night of the symposium. Most science research is not done solo but rather with a group of students.
“It’s a public example of teamwork,” said Pogell. After the event, the students can donate their posters, and you can see some examples of them hanging up in the Collins Classroom Center. Some students also get the opportunity to publish their research.
Levine said, “If everyone would pursue their research, then the world would definitely feel a dent! After all, it all starts an individual,” Levine said.
All undergraduate students enrolled in the 2010/11 academic year are eligible to participate in the spring symposium, including students that graduate in December.
For more information on the upcoming symposium and how you can participate go here.