Undergraduate Research Program


Below are many frequently asked questions about the Undergraduate Research Symposium. If any of your questions are not answered here, email urp@uw.edu.

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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?

Updated: 3/21/22: With the improved health conditions and decreased COVID-19 restrictions on the UW campus for spring quarter, registration for the Undergraduate Research Symposium will now be recommended but not required for those who want to attend the event. Attendees can register here to receive event-related information. Please note that registrants and attendees will be required to comply with any campus COVID policies: https://www.washington.edu/coronavirus/category/campus-operations/.

Where does the Symposium take place?

The Undergraduate Research Symposium in-person sessions mostly take place in Mary Gates Hall on the UW campus. There may also be sessions scheduled in surrounding campus buildings, Meany Center, and the Odegaard Undergraduate Library. You may use this interactive campus map to find Symposium campus buildings and to locate accessible building information: https://depts.washington.edu/ceogis/Public/Accessibility/Map/. All virtual Symposium sessions will take place via Zoom.

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.

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 My Symposium application system (students and mentors). What do I do?

First, please note that My Symposium, 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.

Note: If you are accessing our online application system for the first time or in a different browser, you may receive a message similar to the one below and will need to install the UW Service Certificate Authority.

This Connection is Untrusted

You have asked Firefox to connect securely to expo.uw.edu, but we can’t confirm that your connection is secure.

Normally, when you try to connect securely, sites will present trusted identification to prove that you are going to the right place. However, this site’s identity can’t be verified.
What Should I Do?

If you usually connect to this site without problems, this error could mean that someone is trying to impersonate the site, and you shouldn’t continue.

Information about the UW Service Certificate Authority:
The UW Services Certificate Authority (CA) issues digital certificates for UW services and web sites. By installing the UW Services CA root certificate in your web browser, you will be able to visit and use secure UW websites with certificates issued by the UW Services CA without being confronted with warning messages from your browser.
FAQ: https://wiki.cac.washington.edu/display/infra/UW+Services+CA+FAQ

Why should I install the UW Services CA Certificate?

The University of Washington issues certificates to many of the Web services at the university. In order for you to easily use those services, you must tell your browser or email program that you trust the UW Services CA and accept certificates issued by the UW.

What if I don’t install the UW Services CA Certificate?

If you haven’t installed the UW Services CA Certificate, and you use a secure UW Web site or service that uses a certificate issued by the UW Services CA, then your browser will display a warning such as “Website certified by an Unknown Authority”. To avoid such warnings for UW services, install the UW Services CA Certificate. By doing so, you tell your browser to trust certificates issued by the university, but to continue to warn you appropriately of other sites you should not trust.


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.

I am a Mary Gates Research Scholar. Do I still have to submit an application to the Symposium?

Yes. All Mary Gates Research Scholars are required to present and must submit an application.

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?

Yes. You do not need to have completed your research to be considered. Many students present research that is ongoing. It is perfectly acceptable to share preliminary results or anticipated findings at the Symposium.

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

No. Due to space constraints and to allow more students access to presentation opportunities, students can only participate in one presentation. This policy extends to group presentations as well. For example, a student cannot present as part of a group and then have a second solo presentation.

Can I invite friends, family, and other faculty?

Certainly! Update 3/21/22: The event is free and open to the public. Event registration will be recommended to receive event updates but not required. A registration link will be available approximately 1 month prior to the event. Please note that registrants and attendees will be required to comply with any campus COVID policies: https://www.washington.edu/coronavirus/category/campus-operations/

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, all presenters have access to an abstract writing video, 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 reviewed by a committee 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; 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 two possibilities:

  1. 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 identified 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.)
      Google Chrome Users: Another option is to try accessing the application from an Incognito tab
  2. If you are not a UW student, contact urp@uw.edu to see if you are eligible to present.

Can I request deaf or hard of hearing services for the Symposium event?

Yes, you can contact the Coordinator of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services at least 10 working days before the event to request accommodations. Please find more information on the Disability Services Office website here: https://hr.uw.edu/dso/deaf-or-hard-of-hearing/overview/.

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.

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. View the Online Proceedings from previous Symposia.