Undergraduate Research Symposium FAQ

About the Symposium

Washington University undergraduate students 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?

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.

Why should I participate in the symposium?

The symposium is a great opportunity to hone your academic and professional skills, including synthesis of research questions and findings, poster/presentation design, public speaking with different audiences, and networking.

Am I required to present at the symposium?

If you received a Summer Undergraduate Research Award (SURA) or a Biology Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (BioSURF), you are expected to present at the fall symposium unless you are abroad for the semester. If you were unable to present in the fall, then you are required to present the following spring.

If you received a Conference Travel Award or an Academic Year Undergraduate Research Award, you are required to present at the subsequent symposium.

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, only one group member must complete the initial registration form, where they will be asked to provide the names and emails of additional group members. Presenters will be listed in alphabetical order in the symposium program.

How complete must the research be?

Students are not required to have completed their research. The symposium provides a great venue for students to communicate their ideas and receive feedback on works in progress.

Requirements for Presenting

What is required of student presenters?

Before the symposium: Students must complete the online registration form (March 15, 2023), submit an abstract of their project (April 15, 2023), and create and print a poster outlining their work (April 15, 2023, if printing through the OUR). Student presenters must prepare a two-minute summary of their project to help them discuss their work with viewers of their poster. Students may be invited to give a 10-minute talk (plus Q&A) about their research instead.

The day of the symposium: Students presenting posters should stand alongside their poster for the duration of their assigned session, allowing 10-15 minutes before and after for poster setup and breakdown. If a presenter is unable to set-up, they should arrange for a friend to do it for them. Students are strongly encouraged to visit other posters in and outside their discipline and to attend the oral presentations.

How big can my poster be?

If you plan to use the OUR for printing services, please note that OUR posters must be sized 34 inches X 44 inches (landscape or portrait orientation are both acceptable). If you are NOT printing in the OUR, make sure to check the dimensions required for the location where you are printing.

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?

The Spring 2023 Symposium will run throughout the day on Tuesday, April 25, and we know students have classes and other obligations. Participants are strongly encouraged to visit other posters in and outside their discipline and to attend the oral presentations, to the extent possible. Talks will be livestreamed to enable remote viewing, and additional virtual presentations may be available on our digital platform

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?

If you plan to utilize the OUR's free poster printing for symposium presenters, then your poster file is due by April 15, 2023. 

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!