UW News

May 7, 2009

Students to show their research achievements in 12th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium

Nearly 700 UW undergraduates will showcase their contributions to innovative and groundbreaking research at the 12th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. The symposium is from noon to 5 p.m. Friday, May 15, in Mary Gates Commons, and is organized by UW’s Undergraduate Research Program, which facilitates research experiences for scholars in all academic disciplines.

With topics ranging from biomechanical engineering to linguistics to the performing arts, undergraduates will show off work they’ve done with faculty mentors. There will be separate sessions for posters, oral presentations and performances.

Senior bio-engineering major David Linders, for example, is working with Weichih Wang, mechanical engineering — whom he describes as “UW’s most active inventor” — to develop a disposable clinical force-sensing glove for measuring the forces surgeons, physical therapists, and chiropractors apply to their patients. Realizing the potentially far-reaching applications of their research in the medical field, the team Linders is on plans to take the product they are presenting at the symposium to full commercialization soon.

“Educationally, I never saw myself as entrepreneurial, but have come to enjoy that aspect of a project,” Linders says. “It is important to always consider the end application of your project even if it never gets that far. Here in the real world, there is no such thing as a science project.”

Cameron Rule, a senior majoring in Russian, has both a poster and a presentation on his research comparing bilingual speakers in Lithuania and Estonia. “It [the symposium] promises to be an excellent opportunity to engage with other young researchers across a multitude of academic disciplines,” he says.

Performance presentations feature, among others, Brittney Patterson, a junior majoring in economics. She has been studying Bachata, a music and dance style from the Dominican Republic, and plans to demonstrate how dance can be used as a tool for social change.

“This will help me gain experience in presenting my work to other people. . . in a way that it is easy for [them] to understand . . . ,” says Patterson.

The symposium begins with a formal welcome by deans Ed Taylor, Undergraduate Academic Affairs, and Ana Mari Cauce, College of Arts and Sciences. They will present Undergraduate Research Mentor Awards to four faculty members and one graduate student who were selected based on their commitment to undergraduate research, their history of supporting and mentoring students and the number of students they’ve mentored over the years. The awards are sponsored by the UW Alumni Association. Award winners are:

  • Martha Bosma, associate professor, biology
  • James E. Gawel, associate professor of interdisciplinary arts and sciences, UW Tacoma
  • Matt. R. Kaeberlein, assistant professor of pathology
  • Sheri J.Y. Mizumori, professor and chair, psychology
  • Jentery F. Sayers, graduate student, English

The schedule for the rest of the afternoon is:

  • Noon-1 p.m.: Poster presentation session 1, Mary Gates Commons, 2nd floor balcony, 241
  • 1-2:30 p.m.: Oral presentation sessions, Mary Gates classrooms (there will be signage in Mary Gates and information in the day’s program directing people to specific classrooms)
  • 2:30-3:30 p.m.: Poster presentation session 2, Mary Gates Commons, 2nd floor balcony, 241
  • 3:30-5 p.m.: Oral presentation sessions, Mary Gates Hall classrooms; performing arts session, Meany Studios 266 and 267