Tuesday, April 15, 2014


One of the many activities undergraduate students can participate in here at MSU is undergraduate research. I have worked in a research lab in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science since the beginning of my freshman year. The Honors College pays me a stipend to do research for my first 2 years at MSU as a part of their Professorial Assistantship (PA) program. The following link has more information about the PA program: http://honorscollege.msu.edu/professorial-assistantship-pa-program Even though the PA program was how I got involved with research, there are other ways to get involved with research.

Friday, April 4th was the annual University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum, called UURAF for short. The event was held at the MSU Union and about 660 undergraduate students participated. This is an opportunity for undergraduate students to present their research as posters in a morning or afternoon poster session or to give oral presentations. All of the posters and oral presentations are divided into sections within their categories for judging. There are graduate student evaluators who give feedback and faculty judges who score the presentations to determine the first place winners in each section. Other faculty members, students, and family members also attend and ask questions about the posters.

One of the other undergraduate students I work with and I made a poster of our research and presented it during the afternoon poster session. Neither of us had ever participated in an event like UURAF before, so we thought it would be a good chance to gain more experience explaining our research to other people. Talking about our poster was not as bad as we thought it would be, especially as we got more comfortable as the 2-hour session progressed.

Standing next to my UURAF 2014 research poster
After all of the events of the day, there was an awards ceremony. At this ceremony, the winners of some study abroad scholarships, the Faculty Mentor of the Year award, and first place awards in each section of UURAF were announced. My poster won first place in its section within the Engineering, Computer Science, & Mathematics category! The winners each get $100 and are eligible to submit their work for the UURAF Grand Prize, which is $500 and will be announced in early June. Even when working with a group, each member of a winning project earns the $100 prize money (up to $400 would be awarded to a group of 4 people or more). So, my poster partner and I did not have to split our prize money, we each won $100! When we decided to do this event, money and awards never crossed our minds, but it is definitely a nice bonus! We wanted to have the experience of making a research poster and presenting it a poster session, and I now feel more comfortable talking about my research, so we accomplished what we set out to do.

There were so many interesting posters that I wish I could have gotten the chance to look at them, but I had to stay with my poster the entire poster session. I had a quiz and an exam in the morning, so I was unable to attend the morning session and stay for the entire day. I am really glad that I participated in this event, and I would be interested in participating again in the future.

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