Inaugural research symposium offers chance for undergraduates to showcase skills

David Kubarek
November 08, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — An inaugural University-wide undergraduate research symposium will showcase work being conducted by women, minorities and first-year students in STEM fields.

The event features research from more than 30 participants through Penn State’s WISER/MURE/FURP program. The symposium will be held from 5:15 to 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 14 in the atrium of the Steidle Building on the University Park campus.

Allison Beese, assistant professor of materials science and engineering in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, organized the event as a way to expand on research opportunities for undergraduate students.

“The research these students take part in and are exposed to within a lab during this program is fantastic,” Beese said. “However, there wasn’t a formal opportunity for these students to share their research outside of their specific lab at Penn State. The goal of the symposium is to offer a chance for students to communicate their research to their peers and faculty through a poster detailing what they have been working on. It is also an opportunity to expose these students to other research going on at Penn State, and to provide an opportunity for them to build their professional network.”

Erin DiMaggio, assistant research professor in the Department of Geosciences, said it also lets students strengthen their communications skills very early in their scientific careers.

“As scientists, we are responsible for communicating our work to colleagues and the public,” DiMaggio said. “This research symposium is an important component in training our students not only as researchers but as effective communicators.”

Kate Adkison, a senior majoring in materials science and engineering who participated in the WISER program, will give the keynote presentation at 5:15 p.m. in 112 Steidle Building.

“When I presented at conferences or even school symposiums like this one, I got to meet a lot of other researchers in my field,” Adkison said. “The questions and ideas I received helped improve my work. This symposium is a good starting point for students to learn how to present their research. What the students learn from this symposium will better prepare them to present at bigger forums, such as an internationally attended conferences.”

The event is funded through Beese’s NSF CAREER grant and the NASA’s Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium.

Poster sessions in Steidle Building’s atrium (two groups)

  • 5:45-6:15 p.m. — First group
  • 6:15-6:45 p.m. — Second group
  • 6:45-7:30 p.m. — Pizza and refreshments to be served

Penn State’s WISER/MURE/FURP program offers research experiences and mentoring in University Park labs in the Colleges of Agricultural Sciences, Earth and Mineral Sciences, Education, Engineering, Health and Human Development, Information Sciences and Technology, and the Liberal Arts, and the Eberly College of Science. The program is funded by NASA's Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium. Each participating student receives a $500 scholarship and each participating faculty adviser receives monetary support for lab materials and supplies. 

It is a two-semester experience (spring and fall of one calendar year) offering students the opportunity to collaborate with a research team, learn the language of research and use high-tech equipment. Research activities may include attending lab meetings, preparing research posters and collecting data. Students will learn to work safely and efficiently in the lab and may also experience professional conferences and field work. Students often are assigned their own research project or work closely with a graduate student to collect important data for the lab.

WISER, or Women in Science, is available to first-year undergraduates. MURE, or Minority Undergraduate Research Experience, is available to underrepresented minority students (African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander) who are first-year, sophomores, or juniors. FURP, or First-year Undergraduate Research Program, is available to all first-year students; those with economic hardship are encouraged to apply.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 20, 2018