Students can experience a taste of the real world by showcasing research projects under the guidance of UC Davis faculty.
The Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference will be held on April 25, in Freeborn and Wellman Halls.
Inspired by then Assistant Vice Chancellor Yvonne Marsh, the first conference was held in 1990 with a total of 19 students. Now, over 200 students present each year.
Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Gail Martinez said the conference is an opportunity for students to display their research and scholarly activity sponsored by UC Davis faculty.
“It also provides an opportunity for the students to interact with each other, with UC Davis faculty, deans and other campus administrators,” Martinez said in an e-mail interview.
The conference is hosted by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and the Office of the Provost as well as a campuswide committee that includes representatives from each of the undergraduate colleges, Undergraduate Research Center, Advising Services, Internship and Career Center and undergraduate research programs.
To participate in the conference, students in all academic fields – from geology to mathematics to psychology – are invited to submit an abstract and registration information by Feb. 17.
“We invite the participation of two student groups,” Martinez said. “The first, students who have been involved in undergraduate research or other scholarship and creative activity conducted under the supervision of a faculty sponsor. The second group is the general student body that is encouraged to attend the presentations.”
Elizabeth Germain, a senior sociocultural anthropology major, presented last year on racial profiling and police brutality in Oakland and how perception of race has changed in law enforcement since 9/11.
“It was much different from what a lot of other students researched, and people really appreciated hearing about an issue that had been on a lot of people’s minds,” Germain said in an e-mail interview.
“Sometimes people might have suspicions about the way things are, but my research aimed to eliminate any misguided accusations and also to highlight the adverse effects of racism in law enforcement,” she said.
The conference not only “advertises” students’ projects, but it also gives them a chance to preview faculty members’ works. Approximately two-thirds of the presenters are graduating seniors which allows next year’s students to find an available faculty sponsor, Martinez said.
“[The conference] raises [students’] visibility as scholars,” Martinez said. “[It] gives them an opportunity to further develop their communication skills, visual literacy skills and of course, becoming more engaged with their own learning.”
Engagement in scholarship is attractive to future graduate and professional schools – the skill of development is useful to future careers both inside and outside of academia, Martinez said.
Matt Schultz, a senior genetics major, who presented on the creation of a computational model for a plant growth, found the conference preparation process to be the most beneficial.
“It really forced me to think about how to explain the concepts of my research to people who had little or no previous knowledge of it,” said Schultz in an e-mail interview.
“In the opening speeches, the dean of Letters and Science mentioned my research which was exciting,” Germain said. “We were sitting in Freeborn [Hall] with around 300 other people and he made reference to my work as being innovative and intriguing.”
“The whole thing is just really professional and makes you feel really grown up – they serve breakfast, everyone dresses up – it’s a pretty big deal and I will definitely do it again this year,” she said.
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