May 18, 2011

Student discovery on display at Undergraduate Research Symposium

Nearly 900 of the University of Washingtons most talented and accomplished undergraduates will showcase their contributions to innovative and groundbreaking research at the Fourteenth Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, the largest in University history. The symposium is from noon to 5 p.m. Friday, May 20, in Mary Gates Hall. Some presentations will take place in Johnson Hall and a performing arts session will happen in Meany Studio.

Poster sessions are a major part of the Undergraduate Research Symposium. This view shows one of the poster sessions in progress at last years symposium.

Tony Grob

Poster sessions are a major part of the Undergraduate Research Symposium. This view shows one of the poster sessions in progress at last years symposium.

Vice Provost and Dean Ed Taylor will provide opening remarks, and five faculty members will be honored with an Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. The symposium is organized by Undergraduate Academic Affairs Undergraduate Research Program, which facilitates research experiences for students in all academic disciplines.

The Undergraduate Research Symposium enables undergraduates to present what they have learned through their research to a larger audience and provides a forum for students, faculty, and the community to discuss cutting-edge research topics and examine how undergraduate research can even help solve real-life issues. By having spontaneous conversations and answering unexpected questions about their research, students learn to translate their work into language for a general audience and make a more direct, personal connection between research and their undergraduate education.

With such wide-ranging topics as break-dancing as a cultural metaphor, oncology, developing a constitution for Dar-fur, materials science, and issues of aging and immunity, undergraduate research at UW has truly taken 21st century education out of the classroom and into the field. One student will even present on the “Art of Cloning Alaskan Glaciers”

Vicky Herrera works with graduate student Michael Lee in professor Horacio de la Iglesia's biology lab last summer. Herrera was part of the Amgen Scholars Program and will be presenting her research at the symposium.

While one of the largest of its kind in the country, the Undergraduate Research Symposium is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to undergraduate research at the UW. In 2009-10, more than 6,000 undergraduates participated in University-sponsored research, working with faculty mentors and benefiting from the Universitys resources as a research powerhouse. Through research, undergraduates fully engage with a meaningful issue or problem within their discipline.

  • Senior Vicky Herrera, who is also an Amgen Scholar and Mary Gates Research Scholar, will present “Disruption of Sleep Impacts Hippocampal Memory Performance.”
  • Lauren Currin, a senior in environmental science resource management, will present “Effect of the U-Pass on UW Alumni Commuting Attitudes and Behavior,” by sharing the findings from a survey to UW alumni on how participating in the Universitys U-PASS program altered the commuting behaviors of its participants.
  • Abdelraziq Adam, a senior in law, societies and justice, plans to present his poster, “Dar-fur Constitution Drafting.” Adam researched the work of political scientists and legal scholars whose work has focused on conditions that can build an effective constitution. In his abstract, Adam writes that this research “will reveal the critical components that an effective constitution must have in order to protect human rights and promote stability in Dar-fur.”

Students from all three UW campuses as well as students from other Washington four-year and community colleges will share their work through poster and oral presentations, encouraging interdisciplinary discourse and allowing students to learn from each other about a broad range of innovative research arenas.

New this year, McNair Scholars from around the country will present their research at the Symposium as a part of the Pacific Northwest McNair & Early Identification Program Research Conference. To accommodate the number of students interested in presenting their research, the symposium will have two distinct oral and poster sessions and expand into select rooms in Johnson Hall.

Faculty will moderate the oral presentation sessions, further demonstrating their support of undergraduate research. This support is recognized in part by students nominating faculty for the Undergraduate Research Mentor Awards. The 2011 Awardees are:

  • Rachel R. Chapman, associate professor of anthropology
  • Stephen D. Hauschka, professor of biochemistry
  • Kevin M. King, assistant professor of psychology
  • Richard E. Ladner, professor of computer science and engineering
  • Maria V. Razumova, research scientist in bioengineering

Students cite their mentors abilities to guide, challenge, and involve them as critical to their learning.

Symposium attendees can use the “My Symposium” tool to search the online proceedings, locate the oral and presentation sessions that interest them, and create their own, personalized proceedings to navigate the Symposium.