Students Present Year-Long Research at 38th Annual Undergraduate Symposium

Students congregated Friday, March 23 in the student center at Eastern Michigan University to present their research in their various fields of study, which most have been working on for the majority of the school year in collaboration with a faculty mentor.

The undergraduate symposium began at Eastern in April of 1981 with 17 participants from the College of Arts and Sciences. It has since expanded to include all schools of study at EMU with hundreds of participants each year. The symposium includes oral and poster presentations, as well as a design expo to show the hard work the students have accomplished.

This year’s event began at 9 a.m. in a frenzy as student presenters, faculty mentors and attendants of the event all gathered to listen to various presentations. Junior and second time participant at the Undergraduate Symposium Mitchel Meyer had this to say in regards to the event:

“I think that this is a great experience as someone who is interested in research,” he said. “You get a different audience from all walks of life, it gives you the chance to practice communication skills… it’s a great opportunity to have research completed if you are interested in a master’s program.”

Meyer also expressed the importance of synthesizing information to tell, “What makes the best story;” grabbing an audience’s attention to compel them to listen to the research being proposed. This allowed him the opportunity to connect with his research and helped with time management skills. Planning what needs to be accomplished and when beginning with the abstract due in January, students must be able to project where they need to be at from the beginning of their project with set goals of where they should be in the coming months until the time of presentation.

Assistant coordinator and marketing advisor for the Undergraduate Symposium Amy Bearinger expressed her enthusiasm for the event. 

“This is what a university should be doing,” Bearinger said. “Promoting student work and academic excellence is an accurate representation of EMU. It highlights what education is all about.”

Bearinger emphasized the importance of the diverse representation of student work displayed in the symposium, from studying and preforming dance to using worms to study whether or not cancerous tumors cause stress in healthy nearby tissues. She wishes for the audience to take the opportunity to understand that even smaller research in a lab can change a field of study, and that it begins with research opportunities such as this.  

The assistant coordinator also said faculty mentorship is an essential part of the process involved in the Undergraduate Symposium. Typically, a student is recognized by a professor for a project that they are working on and are encouraged to apply for the event. It takes this project and elevates it “to another level”. She believes that it is important for students to experience faculty mentorship and their passion to help their students achieve their goals and have recognition for their accomplishments.

Interior design student Jordan Stefl displayed her work in the design expo of the Undergraduate Symposium, using her designs as a model for a building that is being renovated in Ann Arbor. She explained the importance of sharing interior design to an audience as a celebration of her hard work and passion for the subject matter.

“This is a project to be proud of, it gives us a chance to talk about interior design which there is not a lot of opportunity to do outside of people in our field. We get a chance to show what we can do,” she said.

The Undergraduate Symposium is an LBC approved event annually. Students and members of the public are welcome to attend the event free of charge to observe the hard work that Eastern students have accomplished in their research throughout the year.

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