BY: EVA MONHAUT
While students often get the chance to explore research within the classroom, the Indiana University Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) offers the opportunity for students to expand their research outside of their courses.
This year’s conference took place Friday April 12 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The conference showcased students research from a diverse set of fields including psychology presentations on the media and human behavior, as well as anthropology presentations on culture and food.
Chair of the organizing committee, Zach Schrank, believes the URC is a great opportunity for students and faculty to network, share their research and nurture a community of scholarship.
“So much of what we do takes place on our own and hidden from people outside of our classes. A conference like this allows us to build our community…Students walk away with a sense of accomplishment and a great deal of confidence,” said Schrank.
Many individuals present multiple aspects of research at different panels and the amount of students presenting is usually around 60+ students from various campus departments. This gives students the chance to interact with other research after their own presentations.
Interacting with other students’ presentations “offers students a chance to see just how much knowledge and diversity there is on this campus beyond the limited scope of our day to day experiences. It also demonstrates how the pursuit of knowledge is contagious,” explained Schrank.
Some students may be hesitant to present their research at a conference but Schrank urges all students to consider presenting in the future.
Nicole Kujawa and Madison Wrisley, who were presenting “The Trouble In Translation: French Homonyms in La Boîte aux lettres de Gustave by Sandra Costs” both agree that the experience left them with valuable insight beyond that classroom setting.
“It is not something I would have chosen to do myself but I feel like it was a good experience and it will help me in the future to present outside of the classroom setting where you can listen to people and how they each approach their research differently,” said Wrisley.
In fact, many professors require students to present at the conference as part of their class. While this pushes many students out of their comfort zone, it also gives them the opportunity to see what they are capable of.
“It is satisfying for me as a professor because I see the students taking it seriously and I get to see their professional side,” stated Associate Professor of French and English at IU South Bend and literary translator, Anne Magnan-Park, who moderated the session.
“Students get the joy of seeing their research make a difference, engaging a dialog with those outside the classroom, and their work evolves towards something that it part of a large conversation. In this way it allows students to see their work as something with more purpose,” concluded Park.
However, many professors see it going beyond the academic scope, such as English Department Chair, Jake Mattox, who expressed his opinion on how it is applicable to issues in our communities.
“Students get the chance to share ideas that are not just academic and theoretical but very tangible for solving concrete problems and injustices in our society. Every one of these presentations mattered very tangible for public education,” stated Mattox.
Andrew Fecher, who presented on Mesoamerican Myth and Literature, discussed his own presentation.
“It was one of the best experiences I have had in college. It allows us to have a safe space to express our ideas and get to know our peers,” related Fecher.
In addition to the multiple panel presentations, the conference also has a poster session where you can view a variety of research all in one location. The posters remain in the lobby for visitors to view throughout the conference. This is yet another opportunity for students to share their insights with each other.
“College is a special and unique time to expand your perspectives and grow. The URC plays an important role in that process,” concluded Schrank.