The UTPA Student Union hosted “Explore and Engage”, a two-day conference for undergraduate students of all fields to showcase undergraduate research projects.
The conference, held Nov. 19 and 20 in the Student Union, was part of undergraduate research and service learning, a UTPA program that supports student and faculty research via funding or providing student workshops.
Danika Brown, the director of the program, was in charge of the event.
“We’re always looking for ways to get more student involvement,” she said. “We hope this activity promotes more student interest in research to better prepare them for when they have to present their work.”
The program consisted of students giving a 15 minute oral or visual presentation of their research project that was moderated by a panel of graduate students. Students were supervised by a professor who reviewed the research and their presentation also had to include time for questions from the audience.
Sabrina Rebollar, a 22-year-old student from Pharr, was part of a group project who gave an oral presentation on cochlear implants on infants.
“I’m applying to grad school, and this is a great way to get more experience,” the communications science disorder major said. “It’s nice to receive opportunities when you can get your feet wet in subjects like this.”
The showcase, according to Brown, is the first of its kind to incorporate students from most fields. One hundred and sixteen students participated, with about 50 faculty members mentoring the students.
Ruth Crutchfield, a communication science disorder professor who mentored several participating students, saw her several of them present and felt proud.
“It was very exciting seeing them teaching others what they learned,” she said. “They showed initiative and discipline in getting their research project done right .”
Crutchfield, who also mentored Rebollar’s group, explained that the mentoring process involved her asking her class for volunteers to participate, then she helped the students create an abstract and provided extra feedback whatever they needed.
The conference concluded Tuesday evening with a reception dinner in the Student Union for those who participated.
“This has been a successful two days. It shows how great this program has been and we hope to do the same with graduate students,” Brown said.