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Symposium to take place tonight

Liz O'Donnell | Thursday, November 5, 2009

The coordinators of the Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium (FURS) hope to overcome the perception of Notre Dame students’ inferiority at intellectual discussion when students, faculty and staff gather in the Jordan Hall of Science tonight for presentations of student research projects.

Charley Spear, one of the student coordinators of FURS, said they have been working for more than   two months to put tonight’s event together.

“This is an opportunity for undergrads at Notre Dame to showcase research they completed over the summer or past semester and to give people a chance to see what’s out there, as well as find out where people got their grant money and internships,” he said.
Senior Melissa Harintho, another student coordinator, said it would be the most extensive FURS to date. This year’s event combines the traditional FURS program with the Undergraduate Research Internship Information Night (UGRIIN), which normally occurs on a separate date, she said.

“Tonight hundreds of students will fill Jordan Hall to participate in an event highlighting undergraduate research in two oral PowerPoint-style presentations and a Jimmy John’s sponsored poster session in the Jordan Galleria,” Harintho said.

In the Jordan Galleria, the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement and Scientia, the College of Science’s undergraduate research journal, will be hosting informational booths for students, she said.

In addition, Harintho said two information sessions, hosted by the Department of Biological Sciences and by Notre Dame’s American Chemical Society chapter, will also take place this evening to discuss summer research opportunities.

Biology professor Mark Olsen, who worked extensively with the UGRIIN program, said the opportunity for undergraduate students to attend tonight’s event is something they should make the most of.

“We are trying to draw students as much as possible because the opportunities with this are fantastic,” he said. “It’s one thing to hear about the opportunity from a professor, but it is another to hear about it from a peer.”

Harintho agreed with Olsen that the opportunities at this event are not only a good way to prepare students for academic futures, but also a way for students to demonstrate their intellectual capabilities.

“It may take time for the majority of the student body to acknowledge what many Notre Dame faculty regularly discuss and what other institutions already know — that Notre Dame still has a ways to go in enhancing its current intellectual reputation,” Harintho said.

“Nevertheless, those who seek to be a part of meeting this challenge can begin to do so by actively engaging in intellectual discussion outside the classroom, forming true friendships and mentorships with their professors, and most importantly taking the personal responsibility of challenging ideas and concepts on their own —  whether it be through research, organizing a conference or simply recording a journal of thoughts,” she continued.