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Conferences highlight undergraduate research

| Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Notre Dame’s Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE) will accept abstracts until March 20th from students who wish to participate in the annual Undergraduate Scholars Conference (USC) and the College of Science Joint Annual Meeting (COS-JAM).

The conferences, scheduled for May 1 in DeBartolo Hall, are open to students from Notre Dame, Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s. All undergraduates are invited to participate in research presentations, critical analyses and creative endeavors on topics ranging from engineering to humanities to business.

Senior Dan Courtney, civil engineering major and two-time conference participant, said the conferences provide opportunities for undergraduate students to expand their experiences outside the classroom.

“I feel like this event is a real strong point for Notre Dame as a whole,” Courtney said. “It is one of the reasons I decided to come here. Notre Dame puts substantial resources into its undergraduate education, and a lot of professors take on several undergrads.

“At a lot of other schools, students are just watching for four years and taking it all in. Notre Dame offers the unique opportunity of allowing undergraduate students to jump in and start their research early.”

According to the CUSE website, the conference is an chance to share research and hear both constructive feedback and insightful questions. Research allows students to use the critical skills they’ve developed in the classroom to ask new questions, make discoveries and contribute to global conversations that can have a real-world impact.

“That’s what it really is – it’s sharing,” Courtney said. “Presenting at the conference will make your research stronger because you need to be able to clearly and simply communicate your ideas. It exposes your research to criticism, which will ultimately make it stronger. Most students who are really good at research aren’t always good at communicating that research — marketing it, if you will.”

Junior Lily Kang, an information-technology management and sociology double-major, said the conferences help students take their research to the next level.

“The conference created an intimate setting in which I felt comfortable holding discussions on my research topic with the audience as well as sharing my personal thoughts,” Kang said. “In addition, the conference was truly interdisciplinary, and it was enlightening for me to learn about my fellow students’ research projects across all different disciplines.”

Courtney said he would encourage all students to stop by the conference to learn about students’ various research projects.

“It’s so cool seeing your friends in that setting,” he said. “You know your friends in one environment, and then to go hear them talk about their research and be amazingly complex is … fascinating.”

More information about the USC and COS-JAM can be found on the CUSE website at http://undergradresearch.nd.edu/USC/

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