U Prepares to Host Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research


Students from across the state will be attending the Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research to network and formally present their work on a variety of topics, from “The Human Microbiome” to “Implicit Racial Bias and Memory.”

Stephanie Shiver, an academic coordinator for undergraduate studies, helped organize this year’s event.

“It’s both a celebration of what students have done, which is great, but it’s also integral to the mission of the university,” Shiver said. “The biggest outcome is sharing their work with a public audience and getting the opportunity to communicate with other students and faculty members from across the state.”

Students have the option to lecture with a PowerPoint or create posters to display. More than 100 will present lectures and almost 250 have created posters. One hundred and twenty-three U students will be presenting. The majority of students are from the U, BYU, UVU and USU, but several other colleges and universities from throughout the state are also involved.

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U chemistry professor Shelley Minteer will present the keynote address, “Role of Undergraduate Research in Solving the Renewable Energy Challenges of the Future,” at 11 a.m. Presentations are given in a series of three lecture and three poster sessions throughout the day.

Research topics range from creative arts to science and engineering. Cindy Greaves, project coordinator for undergraduate studies, said each school helps provide diversity in research.

“We have a lot of science and medicine, where Utah State may have more agriculture stuff,” Greaves said. “A lot of people who are not involved in research think that research is not for them, and this would be a great opportunity for them to come and talk to the students.”

A few of this year’s presentations are “Art, Ecology, and the Politics of Land Use,” “Chemical Composition of Ultra-Faint Dwarf Galaxy” and “Capital Account Liberalization and Income Inequality.” Students’ abstracts are published in a booklet available at the conference.

Shiver said the application process is simple and noncompetitive in nature. The only requirement is a faculty advisor for safety purposes.

“We don’t want someone to build a chemistry lab in their kitchen and blow their own house up,” Shiver said. “They need some university-sanctioned supervision.”

This year will mark the 10th conference, the first beginning when Joyce Kinkead from USU and John Francis from the U proposed the idea to the Utah System of Higher Education in 2005. They drew inspiration from the National Conference on Undergraduate Research, a similar program organized for students across the country in 1987. The U hosted the first statewide conference in 2007, featuring Utah Senator Jake Garn and Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. Other state colleges and universities have taken turns hosting and next year’s will be at UVU.

The event will be held in the Union building Feb. 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. All students, faculty and community members are encouraged to attend.

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