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Undergrads present research at symposium

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The University of Calgary showed off its best and brightest as the Undergraduate Research Symposium this past week. Students from every faculty presented their hard work with posters in Mac Hall while vying for a chance to win one of four $1,000 prizes.

The Students' Union hosted the symposium, now in its second year, where undergraduate students could apply and be chosen by a special committee to display and present their work to interested peers. Sarah LeDrew and Michelle Gour, both now psychology graduates, presented their Psycho-Social Preferences of Persons Affected by Lung Cancer and Their Caregivers poster and received an honourable mention.

"The experience and the opportunity to create academic posters do come in handy," said Gour. "Most graduates end up going to conferences which require you to use posters or even oral presentations so you get to practice your speaking skills."

SU vice-president academic Brittany Sargent agreed that experience was what they SU was aiming for when they planned the event.

"It's beneficial to students, especially if they're doing research at the undergraduate level," said Sargent. "It's also beneficial for other students so that they are able to come in and see what their peers are doing and how they've been able to complete their undergraduate research."

Many of the students involved in the symposium received funding for their research projects over the summer. However, no funding is specified for participating alone.

Associate vice-president of research Douglas Walker explained different sources of funding support different areas of research.

"Some specific funds come from [the] National Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the administration has given money to the SU and the SU supports these programs in a very significant way," said Walker. "Other funding goes to the International Centre to support international components, so the funds are much higher-level administrative funds rather than the faculty or department having its own dollars."

Grantors to superior projects include the Provost's Office, the O'Brien Centre for health sciences projects, the Alumni Association for community-based projects and the SU elected officials voted for a fourth recipient. Last year, there was a people's choice award, but it was replaced due to students voting based on friends instead of calibre. Results from projects were useful in changing programs and institutions in the future. Gour and LeDrew discovered that cancer patients are concerned with the source of their cancer, while caregivers are more worried about the effects of treatment.

"We found out that topic-focused support groups just held once a month is what would be considered most useful for both caretakers and patients," said Gour. "That's something that could be developed at the clinic for those people"

Walker was pleased with this year's turnout.

"I went last year and I went again this year," said Walker. "The diversity, the quality and the enthusiasm that you see from undergrads involved in some very sig- nificant and sophisticated research, it's a wonderful thing to see."

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