Undergraduates Debut Research

Most weekends, Humanities is deserted and eerily quiet. Last Saturday, however, it was buzzing as over 800 undergraduate researchers gathered together to present their work at the annual Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program symposium. The event, which ran from about 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., overtook multiple buildings, including the Humanities Office Building, the Humanities Instructional Building, multiple floors of Humanities Hall and the majority of Humanities Quad.

Research subjects ranged from all disciplines such as sustainable building planning, stem cell research, dance works and informatics. The varied subjects drew a large crowd.

Attendees were greeted with poster presentations, demonstrations as well as question-and-answer sessions. The event attracted friends, mentors and parents of the student researchers as well as the community off campus.

“I value undergraduate research, I think it’s very important for students to succeed at four-year institutions.” Dr. Iraj Nejal, a professor from Mt. San Antonio College, said.

This was his fourth year in attendance with his group of 35 students.

“At the two-year college, we do not have research infrastructure, we don’t have the facilities to actually do research there so this is our way of building partnership into research,” he said.

Many of the students have been working on their projects since fall quarter; some even more than a year. The projects showed each individual student’s hard work.

“I did it because I like it,” said Carl Abinader, a senior in computer engineering, on his project on domoic acid production.

In addition to piece performances, students also presented their research posters and gave 20-minute talks on their research subjects. Their work is also eligible for submission to the UCI Undergraduate Research Journal.

Jerry McMillan, a staff member of the UROP team, said “a lot” of work went into organizing and setting up this symposium and “it’s a definite highlight of the year.”

“It’s just an incredibly, exciting day,” he said.

“Seeing all of the research all the students have done and how excited they are and helping them share their excitement with everybody else,” he said. “I would suggest that anybody volunteer, just to be a part of it. It’s a great, great thing and beyond that, find a way to get involved in research somehow, whatever your major is, whatever your field is; it’s a great way to learn more, to further follow your passions and this symposium then gives you a chance to show off what you’ve been working on and let other people see how enthusiastic and how cool it is.”