April 21, 2016

Cornell Undergraduate Research Board Hosts Annual Spring Forum

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The Cornell Undergraduate Research Board held its 31st annual student-run Spring Forum, which drew hundreds of spectators to Duffield Hall, where 120 undergraduate students presented their research projects on Wednesday.

“The goal is to get as many undergraduates as possible who are involved in research to come together and present their posters,” said Maria Sirenko ’16, co-president of CURB. “A lot of people know about this, so faculty will tell their students to present.”

Kylie Long ’19, a member of the Symposium Committee — the committee in CURB that organized the forum — said the forum seeks to encourage students to conduct their own research.

“The goal is for more people to be interested in engaging in research, not just science research, but also the humanities side of things,” Long said. “If people are interested, they might want to do research as well.”

Sara Ragi ’18, a member of the Symposium Committee, said the breadth of research topics has expanded this year.

“At our previous Spring Forum event, our presenters performed research heavily in the biological sciences, molecular biology and genetics and within the College of Human Ecology, but this year we’ve increased our amount of social science and engineering presentations,” Ragi said.

The number of submissions increased this year and planning for the forum has lasted the entire semester, according to Jake Weiser ’16, co-president of the Symposium Committee.

“In terms of the actual event, it’s a matter of getting everyone on board, delegating roles, waking up at five in the morning to move the boards from Biotech to here, coming at 2 p.m. to help set up and making sure that things don’t go wrong,” Weiser said.

Taylor Crisologo ’16 studies ornithology and has a manuscript in review for publication and another still in preparation. She said she appreciates being able to present her work in a formal setting and receive feedback from her peers.

“Being able to talk to my peers so that what I’m explaining in poster form makes sense to them allows me to go back home and start writing a clearer outline,” she said. “I love it, because it’s a great community; it’s like an idea incubator.”

Vianna Chan ’17 said the poster presentation was also good practice for students to share their work with those without prior knowledge of the topic. She said her research involves the integration of water treatment system design and fiber science approach to environmental effects.

“I’ve never formally presented my work before, so I guess it’s an opportunity to communicate what I’m working on and to generalize the information to people who might not be knowledgeable in my field,” Chan said.

Megan Daniels grad one of the judges and a teaching assistant for investigative biology, called the experience enjoyable for both students and judges.

“As a judge, I’m looking for a clear explanation of why they did it, the reproducibility and what sort of scientific rigor went into it,” Daniels said. “I want to know that they were thoughtful in conducting their research, and that it wasn’t purely observational or randomly motivated. It really makes me appreciate how creative science can be.”

Winners for the Spring Forum will be announced in a few days, according to Weiser.