More than 300 UWM undergraduate students came together to present their research collaborations with faculty over the course of the past academic year at the 10thannual Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 27.
Students from a wide variety of schools and colleges presented their findings in posters, art and oral presentations. These presentations were judged by faculty, graduate students and staff volunteers, and ribbons were awarded to seven students for outstanding presentations: Nancy Duque (geosciences), Margarita Garcia Rojas (history), Kristen Leer (psychology), Hugo Ljungbäck (English/film Studies), Sarah Philippi (psychology), Diana Sofia Rivera (public health) and Rebecca Willer (communication sciences and disorders). Psychology professor Karyn Frick also won an award for Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year.
“The judges are not supposed to know anything about the topics that they are evaluating beforehand, so we want to see how well the students can explain their research to someone outside of their respective departments,” said Nigel Rothfels, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research. “It really encourages students to present their findings in a way that is educational to someone with no prior knowledge. We want to encourage students and faculty from different departments to take interest in research that is happening in different areas around campus.”
The Undergraduate Research Symposium has grown a lot since it began in 2008. What started as a booklet of presentations reflecting a handful of student presentations is now a nearly 80-page book featuring detailed abstracts of the research being presented.
“I think a lot of faculty are realizing that having undergraduate research students can be a really valuable resource,” Rothfels said. “A couple of the main interests of UWM are student success and research excellence, and the undergraduate research program is really a way to bring together these two aspects of the mission. It really reflects the campus commitment to fostering research culture on campus and also fostering the university’s commitment to undergraduates.”
Around 900 students take part in research collaborations with faculty every year. They find opportunities mainly using the Office of Undergraduate Research, or by reaching out to faculty in disciplines that interest them. Students can get involved starting the summer before their freshman year at UWM and continuing through their senior year.