The second annual Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Symposium, which will feature a range of undergraduate research projects across all disciplines and stress the varied nature of research, will be held Friday and Saturday April 4 and 5 in Healy Hall, Riggs Library, Copley Formal and the Intercultural Center.
The GUURS steering committee aims to emphasize how research applies to a variety of fields.
“The main purpose for the symposium was to show a reflection of how varied research can be. We saw there was a common misconception that a lot of underclassmen have that research is limited to science students mostly, so we really wanted to showcase research in all four major areas,” Co-Chair Chandani Desai (COL ’15) said.
Due to these efforts, research areas include social sciences, creative arts and natural sciences.
“We picked them based on a lot of different things. We realized that because this is for a bigger audience, we wanted their work to be more accessible, not something very technical or scientific or very specific to a certain field, something that can be understood by a general audience and something that would be interesting to a general audience,” Desai said.
The students presenting also vary greatly, with one presentation group travelling all the way from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service in Qatar to present. Presenters additionally range across all years and schools.
Compared to last year’s 70 presentation submissions, GUURS doubled in size.
“Undergraduates are realizing this is a really great forum for their research. They are more interested in research just seeing the variety of panels,” Long-Term Development Director Trishla Jain (SFS ’15) said.
The symposium itself will be broken up into three different types of presentations. Poster presentations will give students an opportunity to receive criticism and explain their research, whereas panel presentations will require students to prepare a 10 to 15-minute presentation on their research and participate in an interdisciplinary discussion on a general theme with other presenters moderated by a faculty member with expertise in the area. Student keynotes will additionally allow students to present their topic.
“With the panels, we more delineated them by an academic frame that we picked,” Jain said. “But for the posters, that’s more just to get feedback on their research from different professors, for people to get exposed to it, for undergraduates to see what other undergraduates are undertaking at Georgetown,” Jain said.
Along with the physical expansion of the event, GUURS received support from multiple organizations, as the Georgetown University Student Association and the Office of the Provost will co-host the event. The Mortara Center, the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship and various academic departments will also provide event support.
This will be the second year GUSA co-hosts the event.
This year GUSA helped support through funding and marketing the event. CNDLS additionally helped market, as they printed all marketing material for the event. The Mortara Center provided the gift sets for all attendees and presenters, which will consist of a mug this year.
The interdisciplinary nature of the event as a whole emphasizes the ability of research to apply to all fields, as well as Georgetown’s liberal arts education.
“Interdisciplinary focus is crucial, it’s one of the unique things that Georgetown as a Jesuit school can really promote among students, and it really helps you, as a transition into the real world, because everything is interdisciplinary,” former GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) said. “Having the interdisciplinary focus, I think, helps students stretch their interests and maybe think of doing things they haven’t done before, and in my mind that’s really what Jesuit education is about, making connections and taking the holistic approach.”
Along with the expansion of GUURS, event coordinators created a blog to further market the event and feature presenters.
“We tried to show both faculty spotlights and student spotlights through the blog so everyone can get an understanding of what the research culture is like at Georgetown because it’s not a very big part that’s highlighted and showcased,” Desai said.
Georgetown’s growth in the area of research overall proves to be a very positive trend as the field continues to grow globally.
“Undergraduate research at Georgetown could be a much more integral part of the student experience, and I think you’re going to see that continue to grow if students see different opportunities,” Tisa said. “It’s a very positive thing for Georgetown, it’s a very positive thing for Georgetown students.”