Photo by Mariah Wilson

Students display work, win awards at Undergraduate Research Symposium

By Mariah Wilson, December 11 2017 —

Winners for this year’s Undergraduate Research Symposium were announced on Dec. 7. The annual event, hosted by the Students’ Union, took place in MacHall on Nov. 30 and featured research by undergraduate students in seven faculties. Sixteen winners took home $25,000 in monetary awards this year.

Awards are selected by the URS Working Group based on feedback by panels of judges made up of faculty members experienced in academic research. According to the SU, 95 undergraduate researchers participated in this year’s symposium.

Associate geography professor Mryka Hall-Beyer has judged the URS for several years. She said the conference teaches a lot to undergraduate students.

“For the students, particularly since this is undergraduate, it’s really important that they learn to communicate their research,” she said. “This symposium forces students to take responsibility for this by demonstrating how their research is relevant to people from all backgrounds. When I’m judging, I don’t necessarily know anything about these fields, but I do know how the scientific method works and I can tell if their analysis is logical.”

Classics and religion professor Peter Toohey agreed but said that he would like to see more students from the humanities at the symposium. He acknowledged that poster presentations don’t always lend themselves to research in social sciences. Similar concerns have also been raised by other faculties.

“I’m usually assigned to [judge] areas I have no idea about,” he said. “But that doesn’t matter, as anyone can judge the logic and decide if the subject is relevant.”

Posters presented at the symposium focused on a wide array of topics, such as the relationship between the knowledge of ADHD and parental stress, as well as the motor function of patients after experiencing a stroke.

Sixth-year education student Sunaira Tejpur said her research is important because she’s able to apply her findings to a real-life context while completing her practicums.

“The symposium is such an amazing opportunity to not only present my research, but to have the opportunity to look at what other students are doing and explore other avenues,” Tejpur said.

Hall-Beyer said she was impressed by the quality of students’ work.

“It’s exciting to think that these students are the graduates of tomorrow,” she said.

A full list of award winners can be found here.

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