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The Annual UW Undergraduate Research Symposium

The 17th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium was held on May 16, 2014 in Mary Gates Hall.

View the 2014 Online Proceedings (including event schedule, abstracts, and presenter search tools)

Frequently Asked Questions

If any of your questions are not answered here, please e-mail us .


What kind of "undergraduate research" is presented at the Symposium?

We invite research projects from all disciplines and encourage students to submit creative work for the symposium as long as it has an original, scholarly aspect to it. For all submissions, students must be working under the guidance of a faculty mentor who can speak to the quality of the research; this includes students working on faculty research as well as students working on their own research under the supervision of faculty. Capstone projects and senior theses are good examples of the second type of student research. The Undergraduate Research Symposium is not an appropriate venue for "position papers," where students are presenting opinions rather than scholarly research.

Very generally speaking, most research is characterized by the evidence-based exploration of a question or hypothesis that is important to those in the discipline in which the work is being done. Students, then, must know something about the research methodology of a discipline (what constitutes "evidence" and how do you obtain it) and how to decide if a question or line of inquiry that is interesting to that student is also important to the discipline, to be able to embark on a research project.

How do I attend the Symposium?

The Symposium is free and open to the public. In the weeks before the event, URP will publish the Online Proceedings with listings of times and locations for specific presenters.

Can I volunteer at the Symposium?

YES! Student, staff, and alumni volunteers are critical to the success of the Undergraduate Research Symposium. Email urp@uw.edu if you would like to be added to the list of potential volunteers. We will contact you during spring quarter to see if you are still interested. To see a list of potential volunteer roles, see our Volunteer page.

How are Mentor Awardees chosen?

Leading up to the Symposium, presenters are given an opportunity to nominate their mentor for the award. Nominations are considered by a small review committee of faculty and staff. Faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and research staff are all eligible for nomination.

I am having technical issues with the EXPO application system (students and mentors). What do I do?

First, please note that EXPO, our online application system, is optimized for use with Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browsers and may not function properly when viewed with Internet Explorer, especially older versions. If you are still having issues while using Firefox or Chrome, please email urp@uw.edu with a specific description of the problem.


How do I apply to present?

The application process is done entirely online through our online system, EXPO. Please note that EXPO is optimized for use with Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome browsers and may not function properly when viewed with Internet Explorer.

Do I need to be a Mary Gates Scholar to apply for this event?

No. All undergraduates currently doing research with a faculty mentor are encouraged to apply. You can also apply if you have recently graduated but would like to present on research you completed while a UW undergraduate.

Are Mary Gates Scholars required to participate in the symposium?

Yes. All Mary Gates Scholars who received Research Scholarships are required to participate in the Symposium at least once as part of their award responsibilities. If you are working on a project different than the one for which you received your scholarship and you prefer to present on that project, this is fine.

Can I present research I did with a faculty mentor who is not from the UW?

Yes. You are welcome to apply if you are a UW undergraduate, regardless of where you actually performed your research. If you did your research project at another institution, you will need to get the abstract approved by the faculty mentor you worked with there.

I am still in the early stages of my research. Can I still apply?

You do not need to have already completed your research to be considered. Many students who present are still in process. It is perfectly acceptable to share what your findings or anticipated conclusions are up to the date of the Symposium.

Can I present two or more research projects at the Symposium?

Occasionally students are permitted to present two projects, but no more than two. Presenting two projects requires special approval by URP. If you would like to present two projects please send drafts of both abstracts to urp@uw.edu along with a short statement of why you would like to present two projects. If you do present two projects, then you must display one poster and conduct one presentation, and the projects must be on separate research topics. If you are both displaying a poster and conducting a presentation, the URP highly recommends that one of the projects is a group project with other undergraduates.

Can I invite friends, family, and other faculty?

Certainly! You will be given the opportunity to send us names and addresses of those you would like to invite to the Symposium once you have been formally accepted to participate. We will mail invitations to those individuals for you!

Is the Undergraduate Research Symposium open to artists?

Absolutely! We encourage visual and performing artists to submit applications to participate in the symposium. We have had a wonderful variety of art students present in the past on everything from their sculpture and photography to new techniques being used in actor training.

I am not sure how to begin writing an abstract. Is there someone who can help me get started?

Yes, the URP facilitates abstract writing workshops, where you will learn the basics of abstract construction and see various examples. We also encourage you to take a look at the proceedings from previous years; they will give you a variety of examples of student-written abstracts.

Can I submit an artist's statement if I want to present my painting or other visual work I've done?

Yes, you can apply with an artist 's statement that is specific to the painting/work to be presented. Please include your ideas, where you get your ideas and/or your process, and what the content of the work is about to help the viewer understand the work. If your work is still in process, you might conceive of the abstract as more of a "project proposal" in which you discuss your intended project and the ideas behind it.

Who reviews the abstracts and determines who will be able to participate?

All abstracts are sent out to a review committee comprised of UW faculty, advanced undergraduates, and staff.

What happens if major developments occur in my research project between the time I apply and the symposium date?

You are welcome to note those changes as you develop your final presentation or poster; this might include slightly amending your abstract included in your final presentation. However, the abstract submitted with your application, which will be printed in the Symposium Proceedings, cannot be amended after the deadline.

The application asks me for an invitation code. Where do I get one of those?

There are three possibilities:

A. If you are a UW student, you should not need an invitation code. In some cases, however, students who have a job on campus or have received scholarships will be indentified as "Staff" by the application system. To correct this, please:

  • 1. Log out completely from the application system.
  • 2. Close all your browser windows.
  • 3. Re-open your browser and access the application before logging in to any other UW systems (UW Google Apps, Catalyst, MyUW, etc.)

B. If you are a McNair Scholar, contact your McNair Program Coordinator to receive an invitation code.

C. If you are not a UW student and not a McNair Scholar, contact urp@uw.edu to see if you are eligible to present.

Research Mentors

I received an email asking me to approve a student's abstract. What does this mean?

We ask that research mentors approve their students' abstracts. The email should contain a link to our online system where you can read the abstract and give your approval or ask the student to revise. Note that asking for a revision will NOT harm the student's chances of being accepted to present.

I need to approve an abstract, but I do not have a UW NetID. What do I do?

You will need to create a new EXPO account in order to access our online system, EXPO. You can do this from the EXPO login screen or by clicking here.

While we recognize that most of us already have too many logins to keep track of, creating an EXPO account is very quick and easy and ensures that you will be able to access our system and review your students' abstracts in a seamless fashion.

My students are presenting at the Symposium. How do I find out when and where their poster or presentation will be?

In the weeks before the Symposium, URP will publish the Online Proceedings on our website, which will allow you to search for your students, find out the times/locations of the presentations, and print a pdf of their abstracts. See the 2013 Online Proceedings.