By: SARAH CAWTHON
Students were given the opportunity to broaden their minds through undergraduate research that explained a plethora of subjects from how personality affects color perceptions to the examination of realism and metaphor in Batman graphic novels at IU South Bend’s 9th annual Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) in Wiekamp Hall on Friday, April 17.
The URC is an annual event in which undergraduate participants are able to present their research to their peers, faculty and staff at IU South Bend. There were more than 100 presenters and presentations at this year’s event, which was the largest to date. The presentations were grouped into blocks according to subject and each student was allotted 15 minutes to give his or her presentation and answer questions from the audience. The concurrent panel presentations were split into three time slots. An hour-long poster presentation was also included.
“I’ve been a part of this committee since 2011 and every year we get a little bit bigger and the work gets better,” said Jamie Smith, assistant professor of political science and URC chair. “I’ve heard so many good things about the work that’s been done.”
The halls were alive with nervous and excited chatter as students checked-in and collected their ID cards for their presentations. Undergraduate and graduate research journals lined the table and students eagerly grabbed the ones in which they were featured. Refreshments were made available to the presenters, faculty, staff, and students as they prepared to present their research. As time neared for the first panel to begin, students finished taping their posters to the walls of the hallway and found their way into their classrooms.
The First Panel: 9:00a.m.
The hallways fell silent as students piled into the designated classrooms to hear the first presentations of the conference. The only voices that could be heard in the south hallway were those that wafted from underneath the doors.
A handful of students, who would not present until later in the day, could be found making final changes to their presentations in the lounge. “I just hope this goes well,” Jordan Rae Lucas said as she looked over her notes.
The Poster Sessions: 10:00a.m.
Conversations concerning a multitude of subjects including history, literature, and science filled Wiekamp as the poster session began. Those who had chosen to present in this form, were given wall space to display their professional posters that detailed their research from hypothesis to conclusion. While many of the students could be heard with a twinge of nervousness in their voices, enthusiasm radiated from them as well as they described their work to those who had stopped to listen.
The Second Panel: 11:00a.m.
As the second panel began, students were noticeably more at ease as they discussed previous presentations they had seen. Brandi David, the moderator for the Creative Writing and Nonfiction panel, detailed the format of the presentation and explained the question portion would be held at the end.
“Don’t be nervous,” David said, as he assured the presenters. “So, we can hold for applause?” joked Christopher Crawford as he stepped forward to begin his presentation.
No presentation failed to spark the interest of the audience and elicit questions at the end as students, faculty, and staff were curious about the presenters work.
The Luncheon: 12:00p.m.
Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Jann Joseph, spoke about her experience as an undergraduate researcher. She detailed her experience as an undergraduate when she encountered her first undergraduate research project as a senior.
“I hope you understand what the faculty members here are trying to do,” Joseph said. “They’re trying to get you excited about the things they are passionate about. They’re trying to get you to think about how they see the world and how they critically analyze and explore the world. Those skills are what is going to transfer everywhere you go and in everything that you do for the rest of your life.”
The funding for undergraduate research has tripled for next year so that more students will be funded for their research and more resources will be available to them.
“We are committed to your success,” finished Joseph.
The Third Panel: 1:15p.m.
Nearly 30 people came to listen to the Taking Stock of the Surroundings presentations as the third and final panel began. For Sarah Rekiewicz, this was her second presentation of the day. Rekiewicz examined perceived anonymity and ethical decision-making focusing on online versus face-to-face interactions.
“In the social sciences like psychology, we study people systematically and do everything we can to ensure that their behaviors and beliefs that we document are genuine,” Rekiewicz said. “We take this seriously. We have to.”
Rekiewicz’s presentation elicited so many questions that the audience was cut off as the final panel of the conference came to a close.
The End: 2:15p.m.
As the conference ended, students and faculty could be found lingering near the exits continuing conversations from the panels. With such a wide variety of topics, the URC was a day of learning for everyone involved. While the research for the 2015 URC had come to an end, there will undoubtedly be more to discover next year.