Message from the ORU Director
THE 27TH UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH FORUM: Miami University’s celebration during National Undergraduate Research Week*
Joyce J. Fernandes, Director of Undergraduate Research & Professor of Biology
This is the second consecutive online Undergraduate Research Forum prompted by restrictions imposed due to COVID-19. We continue, as we have always done, building on a rich tradition, and showcasing scholarly and creative works conducted by our undergraduate students under the guidance of dedicated mentors (faculty, staff, and graduate students). Although the number of presentations have been fewer than past years as a result of minimizing face-to-face interactions, several submissions are class projects where instructors have engaged students in the process of research.
During the 2020-21 academic year, the Office of Undergraduate Research has had robust attendance at online events, which prompted us to include four panel discussions in the 2021 Undergraduate Research Forum program: Relevance of Undergraduate Research for Careers, Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Getting Started with Undergraduate Research, and Undergraduate Research During the Pandemic.
The Office of Research for Undergraduates is very appreciative of the support from IT services to remotely deliver poster and oral presentations using the Zoom platform; to Miami Online for creating and managing the WordPress portal that serves as an event website; to University Libraries, Career Services, and Student Disability Services for conducting workshops that helped prepare student presenters for the forum. These workshops included topics such as Designing an Effective Poster, Making Your Research Pitch, Writing an Abstract to Communicate Research With a Public Audience, Creating Accessible PowerPoints and Documents.
The online format of the Undergraduate Research Forum has allowed us for a second consecutive year to provide opportunities for engaging the wider university community, and more importantly, admitted students and alumni, who can catch glimpses of the undergraduate research enterprise at Miami University. The event website has allowed attendees and presenters to preview research projects using keywords for discipline and major and to peruse submitted abstracts and “gallery walks” of presentation and poster images.
Thanks to all the student presenters and mentors who have taken a leap of faith to participate in the online forum. Faculty, graduate student mentors, and staff have come forward to moderate the forum’s 26 Zoom sessions to ensure a smooth running of the many concurrent sessions. Sessions (A, B, C) feature five concurrent clusters during which students will give a live-8 minute Poster Talk.
As a supplemental mechanism for dissemination, we are encouraging the use of Twitter and Instagram to continue poster discussions throughout the day and beyond. These social media platforms are becoming popular choices for the exchange of research outcomes during this “forced” pandemic-related transition to remote delivery. The Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) hosts its premier advocacy event, Posters on the Hill, next week on April 28th, and they will be using Twitter for sharing their posters.
I am very appreciative of the long hours that Martha Weber, coordinator of Undergraduate Research, devotes each year, taking care of the many little details that make the event a grand success. Jennifer Keplinger from Miami Online has worked really hard, especially in light of technical glitches, to create and populate the 2021 UR Forum website in a timely manner. Also, thanks to ORU Graduate Assistant Ally Tamez and Nate Floyd from University Libraries, who facilitated workshops to prepare students for the Undergraduate Research Forum
We invite the university community to engage in this unique online event, to provide us with feedback about this new format, and to share your ideas for raising the profile of undergraduate research at Miami University.
* On November 16, 2010, the U.S. House of Representatives declared the week of April 11, 2011, as “Undergraduate Research Week.” This year, the celebratory week occurs from April 19-23rd. The Council on Undergraduate Research requests participation through Twitter #URW2021
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