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April 2009  |  Return to issue home

Symposium to Shine Spotlight on Undergraduate Research

Poster exhibits

The symposium includes poster presentations by students from all disciplines and all UW campuses.*

With topics ranging from science to the performing arts, undergraduate research at the University of Washington has taken the 21st century student experience out of the lecture hall and into the field. Working with faculty mentors, undergraduates fully engage with an important issue or problem in their discipline through research. These students will present what they have learned at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, Friday, May 15 in Mary Gates Hall from noon to 5 p.m.

This year’s symposium will be the third for Britta Voss, a senior in oceanography. “I started working in a chemical oceanography lab working on a really interesting—and fun—project about measuring spices as tracers of anthropogenic impacts (caused or produced by humans) on the local marine environment. At the 2008 symposium I gave an oral presentation on this work. This year I will give an oral presentation with another student from this lab about the new directions of this project.”

The learning process students go through to participate in the symposium builds their skills and confidence in writing a research abstract, creating an oral or visual presentation and explaining their work to visitors who range from experts to interested community members. “This is really a learning process, it’s not about being competitive,” says Jennifer Harris, associate director of the Undergraduate Research Program. “Students are given feedback and the chance to revise their abstracts, for instance, so they really learn what is expected.”

Symposium hall
More than 700 students will participate in the 12th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium.**

“There is a real sense of accomplishment in presenting your own work, and excellent practice for similar experiences I anticipate encountering in grad school and beyond,” said Voss. “It’s also really exciting to see so many undergraduates involved in diverse, independent research projects with strong support from faculty and the campus as a whole.”

The symposium provides a forum for students, faculty and the community to discuss cutting-edge research topics and to experience the vibrant connection between research and undergraduate education. The event includes poster and oral presentation sessions by students from all academic disciplines and all three UW campuses, and encourages interdisciplinary discourse, allowing students to learn from each other about a broad range of innovative research topics.

If you are interested in volunteering at the symposium, please contact the Undergraduate Research Program at urp@u.washington.edu.

* Photo by Julia Bruk / ** Photo by David Ryder

April 2009  |  Return to issue home

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