By Jenny Wells
(April 28, 2015) — Tomorrow, research projects exploring topics from molecular biology to hip hop music lyrics will be on display for the campus community and public at the ninth annual Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars.
"There really is something for everyone there," said Loretta Stafford, an integrated strategic communication (ISC) sophomore who will be presenting a poster. "I think a lot of people view research as just a resume builder, but it's so much more than that. What you're doing matters — you're coming up with answers to problems. It's just amazing that all of these young people, some of them even still in high school, are accomplishing so much and will go on to get their work published."
The University of Kentucky Office of Undergraduate Research and the Society for the Promotion of Undergraduate Research (SPUR) will host the Showcase from 3-6 p.m. Wednesday, April 29, in the Student Center Grand Ballroom. Opening remarks will be made by Sarah Whelan, president of SPUR; Diane Snow, director of the UK Office of Undergraduate Research; Lisa Cassis, UK vice president for research; and Tim Tracy, UK provost. Former undergraduate researcher Leslie Mann Lynch, a 2010 UK graduate and Singletary, Goldwater and Gates Cambridge Scholar, will deliver a keynote address.
After the keynote, the Faculty Mentor of the Year Awards will be presented followed by a performance by the UK Theatre department's dance minor program. A reception will follow the opening ceremony as the research presentations commence.
Approximately 200 undergraduate students will present projects, including 190 poster presentations, eight oral presentations and two table displays. Ten high school students from Paul Laurence Dunbar, Sayre and Lexington Catholic High Schools will also present. Each participant has submitted an abstract of his or her work, and a bound abstract book of all who participate has been published and will be available at the Showcase.
"There seems to be no limit to the amazing research endeavors our students undertake" said Snow. "I'm so impressed with the depth, breadth and innovation of the research projects and the diligence and creativity of our students. With the lineup of UK administrators in research, our former student and researcher Lesley Mann-Lynch giving the keynote presentation, and the astoundingly creative dance routine from Liza Bustle and troupe, no one will be disappointed with this year's Showcase!"
Each year, the Showcase brings together undergraduates from all disciplines, their faculty mentors, and members of the community to learn about the various types of research being done by undergraduate students at UK. This occasion provides these students the opportunity to demonstrate and discuss their specific projects and the professional advancements the projects helped achieve. It not only provides a great learning experience for the participants, but for the attendees as well, who gain more knowledge about the world around them, as well as the depth of undergraduate involvement in research at UK.
Many students, like Cassidy Teager, a sophomore studying human health sciences and nutrition, also attended the National Conference for Undergraduate Research (NCUR) earlier this month at the University of Eastern Washington.
"NCUR was absolutely amazing," said Teager. "I didn't really know what to expect because it was my first conference and the first time presenting my research at all. So I was a little anxious, but I met a lot of amazing people — people from around the country doing really cool stuff at their respective universities. Presenting at these research conferences really gives that experience for what we may be facing in the future. You're going to have to do this at some point so it gives us that early on experience, and it's been really amazing for me to practice that."
Teager is now excited to show people at UK what she has been working on in the lab with Travis Thomas, assistant professor in the UK College of Health Sciences, and to see her fellow students' projects.
"I'm just really interested to see what other students around the university are doing and what research is going on," she said. "You never really know until someone presents what's been happening and what they've been working on."
The Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars is open to the public. Students, faculty and staff are highly encouraged to attend.