UW News

March 26, 2001

UW highlights undergraduate research in symposium May 4

News and Information

The Fourth Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, to be held noon to 5 p.m. Friday, May 4 in Mary Gates Hall, features the work of 260 undergraduates, in fields ranging from art to zoology.

Posters describing the student’s research projects will be on display all afternoon. Presentations will be held from 1:30 to 2:45 and 3 to 4:45.

For most of these students, the experience of conducting research has been the most important part of their education, according to Janice De Cosmo, director of the Undergraduate Research Program and coordinator of the symposium. “The opportunity to explore a subject in greater depth than can happen in the classroom, and to work closely with a faculty member in the process of research, sparks a passion in many students, even those who ultimately decide not to continue their studies in that vein,” she says.

Although there are no firm figures on how many UW undergraduates participate in research, their numbers are growing-in large measure due to the voluntary efforts of faculty. “My experience is that about nine out of ten faculty members will say yes to having an undergraduate participate in their research,” DeCosmo says. “It turns out that once they’ve worked with an undergraduate, they are even more willing to do so in the future. Faculty report that undergraduates bring a fresh perspective to projects and a passion that sometimes rivals that of the faculty mentor.”

This year’s symposium contains a special focus on the faculty mentors. DeCosmo has received written acknowledgements and appreciative thoughts from 145 students, praising the faculty who have volunteered their time to assist in research projects. One comment, from a student in bioengineering: “Amidst our daily toils, we students sometimes forget just how privileged we are. As students, we have ‘backstage passes’ to meet and speak with some of the greatest men and women of their respective fields-our professors.”

More information about the symposium is available at: http://www.washington.edu/research/urp/symp/.