Ronna Fisher, Assistant Editor
The SNU Undergraduate Research Symposium (UGRS) is an opportunity for students to present their research before peers and professors.
This year’s symposium is taking place on April 12 from 8:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. in the Royce Brown Building.
According to Dr. Gina Weaver, one of the founders of the UGRS, the purpose is for students to get a feel for academic conferences, present their research, and add to their resume or CV.
“We want to show students that research is important and to let [students] see [themselves] as young scholars, not just students… It’s the real deal; you don’t have to wait until grad school to do that kind of thing,” Weaver said.
Dr. Gwen Hackler agrees, “It encourages our students to go out and present elsewhere.”
Junior English major Tesica Starkey, who has presented since her freshman year, agrees.
“I’m presenting because the UGRS is an excellent way to build experience presenting original research in an academic but not intimidating setting . . . by discussing their research in front of peers and professors, [presenters] learn even more about their topics and gain confidence in the academic scene,” Starkey said.
This will be SNU’s 7th annual symposium. English professors Weaver and Hackler were on the original committee that started the symposium; the Honors Program then took over.
“I just kept bugging people about it,” Hackler said.
It has been a learning experience for both of them. The symposium has gone through several adjustments, continually improving the planning and experience of it.
“One of the big struggles is always the issue of audience. We want to have something that everyone can come to . . . so that’s been an ongoing conversation,” Weaver said.
Ultimately, the symposium has grown a lot and has become more diverse. This year, 35 students will present their research in fields such as the hard sciences, social sciences, literature, science lab pedagogy, and intercultural research.
Who is the UGRS for?
“It’s for the students. It’s for all students, but it’s especially useful to students, I think, who are planning on going to graduate school . . . it’s also for students who have done good research,” Weaver said.
The symposium was also opened up to non-SNU students last year. The UGRS welcomes students from any year, major, or division.
Johnnie West, senior physics major, said, “The UGRS is for anyone who has research or data to present. Everyone has always been welcome to present at the symposium.”
What is presenting at the Symposium like?
“Initially it was frightening, but after presenting I appreciated the chance to discuss my research in an academic setting,” Starkey said.
West believes that the symposium provides an amazing opportunity for growth.
“For me, the practice is the best reason to participate in the UGRS,” West said. “I also think this is a great place for students to see how symposiums work at larger university or conferences. It is always a good idea to know what is going to happen at a symposium before arriving.”
Weaver invites everyone to come watch their peers present their research.
“We would love to have as many people from the SNU public as possible come and support their friends . . . we want you guys to see that students just like yourself can go on and do really impressive work,” Weaver said.
Click here to see the schedule for the symposium.