Undergraduate students showcased their projects and research at the University of Wisconsin’s fifth annual Undergraduate Symposium Tuesday at the Memorial Union with the largest turnout of participants in the symposium’s history.
The Undergraduate Symposium is a forum designed to exhibit undergraduate students’ creativity, achievement, talent, research and service-learning. Students represented all colleges and schools at UW: humanities, fine arts, biological sciences, physical sciences and social sciences.
“The symposium is a forum to try to showcase undergraduate creative work in all endeavors,” project assistant Kerstin Schaars said. “We’re really trying to create a dialogue between undergraduate students and other undergraduate students, undergraduate students and faculty and undergraduate students and the wider Madison community.”
The showcase began in 1999 as a venue for teaching and learning for the university’s sesquicentennial and, over the years, has become a favorite destination for the projects of Wisconsin Idea Fellows, Undergraduate Research Scholars, Hilldale/Holstrom Fellows and McNair Scholars.
This year, more than 270 students presented their work to the campus and community, double the number of last year’s symposium, Schaars said.
“We really have an exceptional variety which is different and exciting from the other years,” Schaars said.
Karla Esbona, a UW junior and independent project student in the department of plant pathology, spent two months preparing her presentation for the symposium. But her research on the colonization of potato plants has spanned over two years. She said the work she presented today is only a starting point to a bigger project.
“The symposium is a good opportunity for most undergrads in doing research because they get known and their work gets known and recognized,” Esbona said.
Every currently enrolled undergraduate student at UW is eligible to participate. Presentations came in the form of posters, five- to 10-minute oral presentations and displays. Some projects included the Hmong folksong performance and the “Creativity in the Disciplines” faculty panel, which consisted of four faculty members from various departments discussing the creative work currently being undertaken in the campus community.
“Next year, we’re going to try and do it again and make it even bigger,” Schaars said. “So I hope people come out for that one as well.”