The Elliot T. Bowers Honors College will hold its 10th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Building from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 29 to encourage students to further explore a topic of their choice.
“The URS is a professional conference that promotes undergraduate research across all disciplines and ranks,” said Dr. Tracy Bilsing, faculty sponsor of the symposium.
The URS aims to encourage students to pursue their interests. Undergraduates can present finalized, ongoing, or plans for future research in any field, reguardless of their major. Categories for the symposium are organized according to complimentary subjects like biology or film, but only after all abstracts have been turned in for review. Individual, partner, and group projects are all accepted.
“We welcome all undergraduates, freshmen through seniors, whether they are presenting or not,” said Kristyn Couvillion, one of the student URS coaches. “It’s not limited to members of the Honors College.”
Presenter registration and award submissions are open online until Wednesday, March 15, and April 15, respectively. To enter, students must submit a faculty advisor or mentor name and a 150 word abstract for either a poster or oral media presentation. All applications that meet requirements are accepted. Submission and attendance are free of charge, but all who plan to attend are expected to sign up in advance.
Two meetings will be held prior to the symposium on Oct. 25 and Oct. 26, both at 4 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center room 110. Topics of discussion will include important dates and times, tips on how to present, abstract writing, where to find links to similar tutorials, scholarship information, and the meeting will conclude with a brief question and answer session.
Students who filled out the online award submission form will be considered for one of three $500 scholarships: The Honors College Award for Best Overall Oral-Media Presentation, The Honors College Award for Best Overall Poster, and The Assam Scholarship for Honors Research Award, the latter of which only applies to Honors College students in good standings. The department is working with librarians to archive the projects of scholarship recipients.
“The judges don’t search for any specific elements,” Bilsing said. “It’s more wholistic: students dressed professionally, projects with excellence in quality, and research that is innovative or something out of the norm.”
To prepare for the symposium, students are encouraged to come to the organizational meetings and to email, call, or visit the Honors College office with questions. Additional information can be found under the Fastlinks tab on the Sam Houston State University website, and librarians are happy to help students navigate and research their chosen topics. The most imporatant actions students can take to prepare is to start early. Thinking about ideas for a project long before deadlines allows for extra time dedicated to study.
The URS has grown in the 10 years since its establishment, and continues to expand. The first symposium had only 12 presenters total while the 2016 conference turned out 304. Over the years it has benefitted students in a number of ways: grabbing their interest, increasing their knowledge, developing their research and public speaking skills, and providing a networking system that might not otherwise have been available to them.
“The work seems daunting, but students are always surprised at what they can do,” Couvillion said. “They’re much smarter than they think they are.”