The 18th annual University of Wisconsin Undergraduate Symposium kicked off Thursday at Union South, showcasing more than 500 students’ work in both sciences and humanities.

The symposium included students from various majors, colleges and grade levels, Rebecca Kautz, the symposium’s coordinator, said. It’s an extremely diverse environment where students from the sciences, arts and humanities can come to one place, Kautz said, and show what they have been working on to students outside their areas of study.

Kautz said symposium participants were predominantly science majors and she hopes to expand the event to more students in the arts and humanities in the future.

This year, only four art majors gave talks in Union South’s Marquee Theater. They gave a PowerPoint presentation of their work and discussed their methods, practice and techniques. Kautz said people in more traditional humanities majors — such as gender and women’s studies — would be welcome to present their writing or other work as well. Often, students in the humanities don’t realize that there is a place for them to present their work and discuss what they’re thinking about, she said.

“Everyone does research,” Kautz said.“Research isn’t just in a lab.”

Students who participate are also eligible to receive awards, Kautz said. One of the awards, the Undergraduate D2P Commercialization Award, rewards students with projects that have the potential to be applied to the society or marketplace. Winners will receive $500 to support their work, she said.

Mikaela Breuning, a senior plant pathology major, presented her research on how programmed cell death occurs in fungi. Breuning said she has worked on the project since the summer after her freshman year, but this was her first time participating in the symposium.

Breuning chose to participate in the symposium after receiving the Hilldale Fellowship scholarship. The Hilldale Fellowship provides money to select students when they submit a proposal, she said, and awardees are expected to present their research.

Breuning said receiving the fellowship and being able to participate in the symposium validated her work.

“It really gives me confidence that what I’m working on is worthwhile,” Breuning said.