The University of Tampa is broadening the notion that research is exclusive to faculty or graduate students by celebrating undergraduate student researchers with a week of recognition.
UT, a small private university
located at 401 W. Kennedy Blvd. on the Hillsborough riverfront in the growing heart of downtown Tampa, serves over 7,500 students from all 50 states and 137 countries. During the Undergraduate Research Celebration (URC)
April 23-27, UT will recognize undergraduate students who have developed a better understanding of their subjects of interest and deepened ties with professors through participation in research projects.
URC events “are opportunities for networking and discussion, and celebrate the accomplishments of UT's undergraduate scholars,“ says Dr. Eric Freundt, an assistant professor of biology in UT’s College of Natural and Health Sciences
. “These events lead to cross-disciplinary collaboration and improve the intellectual exchange across campus.”
On Thursday, April 23, UT will kick off URC festivities by celebrating Honors Day, during which Honors Program
undergraduate research fellows will receive recognition and give oral presentations on recently completed or current research projects.
The following day, Friday, April 24, the CNHS Undergraduate Research Symposium will take place. CNHS students will present research projects in Plant Hall's Fletcher Lounge from 3:00-5:00 pm. Sara McGrath, a research chemist at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
, will give a keynote presentation on the topic of seafood safety challenges at the FDA in Sykes College of Business, Room 131, at 2 pm.
Friday is also the Sykes CoB Student Research Day, during which students from the UT CoB will present research projects in the Cass Gym, from 3-5 pm.
Finally, the UT College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education
Undergraduate Research Conference will take place on Wednesday, April 29. During the event in Plant Hall's Fletcher Lounge, CSSME students will present their original research from 4-6 pm.
Freundt explains that research helps undergraduate students develop critical-thinking skills and the ability to solve real-world problems. The focus of student presentations during the URC is the opportunity for students to share research results in a formal setting.
“Undergraduate research and creative inquiry allows students to work closely with a faculty member to conduct a high-quality, original research project,” he says. “As we often learn best through teaching, students who present must communicate the motivation behind their project, methodology, results and conclusions to a diverse audience. “Each student presentation therefore leads to a deeper understanding of their own research, sharpens their communication skills, and completes an important aspect of scholarship.”
Undergraduate Research Celebration week events are open to the local community.
“We hope that community members who attend these events can discover opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration with our faculty and students,” Freundt says.
Results from a CNHS’s 2014 symposium, as provided by Freundt:
- Eighty percent of participants surveyed indicated that it was their first time giving a scientific presentation.
- All respondents (100%) reported feeling more confident in giving a scientific presentation after participating in the symposium.
- Seventy-seven percent of participants surveyed indicated that they spoke with students outside of their discipline.
- One hundred percent of participants surveyed learned by visiting other posters.
- Ninety-six percent of participants surveyed received helpful, personal instruction from a faculty member while preparing their poster.
- Ninety-six percent of participants surveyed learned more about their research topic.
- All respondents indicated that participation in the Symposium enhanced their overall educational experience at The University of Tampa.
Participating in undergraduate research gives future job seekers an advantage, Freundt says, because “employers are looking for college graduates with the ability to solve complex, real-world problems and who possess excellent critical thinking and communication skills.
“UT’s commitment to learning through student inquiry projects, and celebrating these students through the Undergraduate Research Celebration week, leads to UT grads who are prepared to make an impact in the local community and benefits the economy,” he says.