Undergraduate Academic Affairs

How are UW undergraduates contributing to breakthroughs in bioengineering?

Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium

Nearly 700 undergraduates will present their research at the 12th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. This year’s Symposium is the largest yet. The Symposium happens May 15, noon-5 in Mary Gates Hall.

Find out at the Twelfth Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium

By Crystal D. Chiechi

Nearly 700 of the University of Washington’s most talented and accomplished undergraduates will showcase their contributions to innovative and groundbreaking research at the Twelfth Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. The symposium is May 15, 2009, in Mary Gates Hall Commons from noon to 5:00 p.m. and is organized by UW’s Undergraduate Research Program, which facilitates research experiences for scholars in all academic disciplines. View the complete schedule.

The Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium enables undergraduates to present what they have learned through their research to a larger audience. It also 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.

With topics ranging from biomechanical engineering to linguistics to the performing arts, undergraduate research at UW has truly taken 21st century education out of the classroom and into the field in many directions. Working with faculty mentors and benefitting from the university’s resources as a research powerhouse, undergraduates fully engage with an important issue or problem within their discipline.

Undergraduate doing research

Senior bio-engineering major David Linders is working with Dr. Weichih Wang—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,” he states. “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.”

Students from all three UW campuses will share their work through poster and oral presentation, encouraging interdisciplinary discourse and allowing students to learn from each other about a broad range of innovative research arenas. To accommodate the recent growth of the Symposium, this year’s attendees get a real sense of the diverse topics encompassing undergraduate research through two distinct oral and poster sessions.

“I’m looking forward to presenting my research and sharing my results with other undergraduates and members of the [UW] community,” says Cameron Rule, a senior majoring in Russian, who is presenting a poster and making an oral presentation on his research comparing bilingual speakers in Lithuania and Estonia. “It promises to be an excellent opportunity to engage with other young researchers across a multitude of academic disciplines.”

Performance presentations held in Meany Hall begin at 3:30 p.m. and will feature 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 and help me to start thinking about how to translate my work in a way that it is easy for people to understand all the complexities of it,” states Patterson. “One day I hope to be able to discuss this type of work in further academia, so this really is the beginning steps for me.”

A few additional student projects include:

*Zachary Radmer, senior, environmental studies & biology*
Oral presentation topic: What human mediated fire regimes mean for aquatic macro-invertebrate assemblages and salmon diets in central Idaho
Mentors: Peter Kiffney, NOAA; Beth Sanderson, NOAA

Kathy Wei, senior bioengineering and computer science
Poster presentation topic: Anti–Cancer Nanopods: Rational Design of a Peptide-based Gene Delivery Vehicle Targeted to Hepatocarcinoma
Mentors: Suzie Pun, Bioe; Rob Burke, Bioe

Alyssa Sheih, senior, bioengineering
Poster presentation topic: Foreign Object Recognition Through Phagocytosis-Poster
Mentor: Hong Shen, ChemE

Yecelica Valdivia, senior, anthropology, women studies
A Radical Food Politics: Struggles for Food Sovereignty in the Puget Sound Foodshed
Mentor: Devon Pena, Anthro, AES; Theresa Mares

Timothy Thomas, senior, sociology
Oral presentation topic: Seattle’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Way: A 40 Year Reflection on a Dream
Mentor: Stew Tolnay, Soc

Event Details
WHAT: Twelfth Annual Research Symposium at the University of Washington
WHO: Nearly 700 of the sharpest young minds at UW presenting ground-breaking undergraduate research
WHEN: Friday, May 15, 2009, 12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.
WHERE: Mary Gates Hall Commons with performance presentations in Meany Hall, UW Seattle
SPONSORS: UAA’s Undergraduate Research Program and UW’s Alumni Association

About the Undergraduate Research Program
The Undergraduate Research Program facilitates research experiences for undergraduates with UW faculty members across departments and disciplines. Since 1997, it has produced the Undergraduate Research Symposium, during which hundreds of undergraduates present their research to the campus and community. It is among the largest symposia for undergraduates in the nation. The Undergraduate Research Program is housed within Undergraduate Academic Affairs’ Center for Experiential Learning.