Undergraduate Research Symposium FAQ

About the Symposium

Washington University undergraduates present research they have conducted under the guidance of a faculty mentor in the form of a poster or oral presentation to the entire Washington University community.

Who is invited to present at the symposium? Is this for science majors only?

No, definitely not. All undergraduate students from Washington University in all disciplines are welcome and encouraged to register and present their research. If you are concerned that your work may not be presentable in either a poster or traditional oral format, please contact us.  Non-Wash U students may also be eligible to present research and should contact us as well if interested.

Why should I participate in the symposium?

The symposium is a great opportunity to hone your professional skills in poster creation and presentation, public speaking, and the application process.

Am I required to present at the symposium?

If you received a Summer Undergraduate Research Award or a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) you are expected to present at the fall symposium unless you are abroad for the semester.

Many departments require that their seniors who are writing an honors thesis present at the spring symposium.

Can group work be presented at the symposium?

Yes. We realize that research is often conducted in groups and encourage these projects.  If you are presenting group work, each member of the group should submit an individual registration form.  The project mentor, title, and abstract should be exactly the same on each registration form. Presenters will be listed in alphabetical order in the symposium program.

Is the symposium open to writers and artists?

Absolutely. We encourage presentation of original works in all areas of the fine arts. An “artist’s statement,” specific to the work being presented, needs to be printed and displayed at the symposium. This statement needs to include the inspiration and/or process for creating the project. Also, any historical or technical details that will help others to understand the project should be included.

How complete must the research be?

Students are not required to have their research completed. We also understand that final results and conclusions may not be ready for the abstract deadline.

Requirements for Presenting

What is required of student presenters?

Before the symposium: Students must complete the online registration form, submit an abstract of their project, and create and print a poster outlining their work. Student presenters must prepare a two-minute summary of their project in order to help them discuss their work with viewers of their poster. They may be invited to give a 15-minute talk on their research.

The day of the symposium: Students must be present to set up their posters at the time specified on the morning of the symposium; if they are unable to be there for set-up, they must arrange for a friend to do it for them.  Students are required to attend the keynote address and student talks and to be present alongside their poster during the entire poster session. Finally, students are responsible for taking down their posters at the end of the symposium

How big can my poster be?

Any size is fine, but the foam backboard will be 40" x 60". We will supply boards, push pins, and easels. You do not need to supply your own board. Visit our page about making a poster for details.

Will I have to stay for the entire symposium?

Yes. Lunch will be provided, and students are expected to take their posters with them at the conclusion of the symposium.

Registration and Deadlines

The registration form asks for my mentor/advisor. What exactly does this mean?

Your mentor/advisor is the faculty member(s) who helped you with this project. If you have any questions about this, please contact us.

Is there a deadline for submitting a poster?

While there is a deadline if you would like the OUR to print your poster, there is no deadline nor must you send us a file of your poster otherwise. The only requirement is that students must have their posters on the morning of the symposium.

Tips and Recommendations

What should I wear to the symposium?

The attire is business casual.  This means no jeans, shorts, t-shirts, or flip-flops.

What should I expect at the symposium?

Students should be prepared to discuss their own research with people of various backgrounds.  Additionally, the symposium allows students the unique opportunity to view and discuss posters of their fellow undergraduates’ research.

Whom should I invite to the symposium?

Student presenters should extend a personal invitation to their mentors and co-researchers, major advisor, roommates, friends and family.

If I'm not presenting, should I still go?

Yes! It’s a great opportunity to talk to upperclassmen about how they got started in research and to gather information about what it means to do research. You’ll be able to see what kinds of research undergraduates are doing in a variety of disciplines. And you might learn something!