Friday, May 15, 2015

2015 Undergraduate Research Day at UW

On May 2, Wyoming EPSCoR co-sponsored the sixteenth annual Undergraduate Research Day at the University of Wyoming. The conference was designed to showcase student research, provide an opportunity for undergrads to practice public speaking skills, and develop the research interests that will inspire future STEM-related careers.  Students presented research in a wide variety of areas including engineering, agriculture, humanities, physical sciences, and social sciences. 
Presenter Blake A. Balzan,
from the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management

I spoke with Beth Cable, an Education, Outreach and Diversity Coordinator at EPSCoR and one of the organizers of this year’s event.  She was impressed by the passion students demonstrated towards their work: “Building a presentation about what interests you – what lightbulb went off – I think that’s what engages the audience.” 

Presenters offered many creative projects, from an examination of “LGBTQ Identity and Romantic Relationships in Glee,” to an exploration of the impact of diet on Alzheimer’s disease.  

Wyoming earth science and hydrology also made a strong showing, with presentations on fauna in Yellowstone, Wyoming river ecology, and a geological analysis of Wyoming’s Granite Mountains. 

I asked Beth if she has any advice for students who want to showcase their research in 2016.  She emphasized the importance of following directions during the registration process.  Careful work makes you seem responsible, and it helps you practice for more rigorous conference and journal submissions down the road.  As Beth pointed out, “professionalism goes a long way.” 

It’s also important to provide organizers with a clear, concise abstract.  The abstract is your “elevator pitch” to your audience, the preview that appears on conference schedules and websites.  With that in mind, be as direct and engaging as possible.  Put focus on your research question and offer a “big picture” summary that will resonate with readers outside your discipline.  Most of all, make your audience curious about what you’ve learned. 

Beth said that the students were a very impressive group, and that she was very excited to see the hard work they’d been doing all semester.  She’s looking forward to organizing next year’s conference and reading the next set of proposals from dedicated student researchers. 

Gregory Galli, from the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, with Dr. Suki Smaglik,
Professor of Chemistry and Geology at Central Wyoming College
EPSCoR would like to thank the students and faculty who made this year’s Undergraduate Research Day a resounding success! ​

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