College of Science presents Fall Undergraduate Research Fair
Talia Brierly | Thursday, October 25, 2018
How does one find research opportunities?
Many College of Science students ask this question. In fact, Dr. Sheryl Lu, director of undergraduate research for the College of Science, said this is the most common question undergraduate students ask her about research. Each year, the first Thursday after fall break, the College of Science answers this question with the Fall Undergraduate Research Fair.
“For the students presenting, hopefully they can get feedback from their peers, really talk about their research,” Lu said. “I think everyone wants to share what they have learned, right? And for the students who just come here to learn what other students have done, I really want them to get some ideas about what does research look like and how do you approach the faculties or find the on-campus resources to look for those research opportunities and start early.”
The fair, which runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25 in the Jordan Hall of Science, is split into three hour-long events. The first, Undergraduate Research Opportunities in Chemistry, runs from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Jordan 101. Attendees then move to the Galleria from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. for student poster presentations and information tables, and the last hour of the event is the Undergraduate Research Internship Information Night in Jordan 101.
“What we do specifically, in contrast with the normal abstract where you just write about your research, we have asked three questions at the end of the abstract, like how did you find your research opportunity, how did you like your research and what did you learn,” Lu said. “So that’s to really answer the questions of the students who are trying to find research opportunities.”
The poster presentations offer an opportunity for students to interact with peers who have done research and ask them questions. Information tables from campus organizations like ND Energy, the Harper Cancer Research Institute and more will also be in the room at that time.
These information tables offer the opportunity to talk with representatives from around campus such as Robyn Centilli, the assistant director for the engage and explore teams at the Center for Career Development (CCD). She is the CCD’s liaison to the College of Science.
“My hope is that with our presence there that they realize that one, we are very friendly and approachable, and two, that we have a lot of really wonderful services that can help them along their path, whatever direction they decide to go,” Centilli said about the CCD’s information table.
Some resources Centilli can provide include discernment and career treks to places like Washington D.C., help with learning how to connect with professors or find research, help writing resumes and more. The fair provides a chance to network with her and others on campus who can provide opportunities.
“Where do I find the opportunities, how do I reach out to professors and should I be talking to them about their research?” Centilli said, referencing student concerns about networking. “My answer to that is always, people love talking about what they’re passionate about, right? … It can only benefit you by talking to people about what they’re doing, which is another great aspect of the research fair.”
Later in the evening, during the Undergraduate Research Internship Information Night, several students will give talks about their research and offer advice. Helen Streff, a junior biology major, will be the plenary speaker this year.
“I decided to speak because I enjoy talking about my summer experience, and I think that I went through the same process freshman year, so I think that I can help students out in that way,” Streff said. “I hope that people get out of it that summer research is something that is fun and doable and also that we have resources here that can help you get that research.”
For students who have already done research, Streff recommends presenting.
“It is always good to get out there for the purposes of being able to explain your research better,” she said. “Also, for applications, it is good to have presentations on there.”
For students that are new to the fair and the research process, Streff said that the number of posters can be overwhelming, but she has some advice.
“Just choose a few posters that interest you and try to understand the content of the poster, and also talk with the person presenting on how they got interested in that research and things like that which might be relevant to your experience,” she said.
No sign up is required for students to come explore the fair, and no dress code is required for the attendees. For a continuation of the research experience in the Spring, Lu said students may also be interested in the College of Science Joint Annual Meeting (COS JAM), which is a more formal conference setting for students to present their research.
There is something for all science students at the fair. Students who have done research can learn how to present it, and students new to research can learn more about it. Both Lu and Centilli encourage students of all years to attend.
“Whether it makes you realize you don’t want to do research or whether it really makes you realize you do, it’s not going to be a bad experience,” Centilli said. “So, if you’re sitting on the fence, just go.”