WashU’s Office of Undergraduate Research is happy to announce a month-long Spring Celebration of Undergraduate Research in April. This month of virtual events will include the annual Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium, which will open April 19th and run concurrently with student panels and departmental events.
A year of tremendous change has provided unique and exciting opportunities for the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR). Successfully rising to the challenges at hand, the OUR created innovative tools and resources to support students throughout their undergraduate research experience. This included new approaches to advising students as they search for research opportunities, adopting new technology for collaboration with faculty mentors, and creating new programs and processes to support impactful summer research experiences. A central facet of the OUR's mission is to help students share their research and, as the academic community moved traditional conferences online, the OUR experimented with online engagement as well. Most notably, in December 2020, the OUR hosted its first Fall Undergraduate Research Week. In addition to the annual Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium, the event included virtual panels and workshops on topics ranging from getting started in research in different disciplines, to leveraging research experience towards graduate school, to student insights from conducting research in the COVID-19 era.
The virtual Fall Undergraduate Research Symposium proved to be a great success, with over 150 undergraduate student researchers presenting from more than 30 disciplines. As part of the OUR’s mission to serve all undergraduates, all schools, and all disciplines, this year’s virtual symposium platform offered an array of new presentation options for students to showcase their research. The diversified presentation formats strengthened the inclusiveness of the event for students from historically underrepresented disciplines.
The top 10 most-viewed presentations came from diverse disciplines, ranging from Biology and Psychology to Political Science, Anthropology, and Art. Experience levels of the presenters ranged from graduating seniors to first-years just getting started in research by engaging in special courses like College Writing.
"I really benefited from the experience of creating a presentation for the Fall Research Symposium; I am grateful that it was designed in such a way that it enabled students to share our research progress with the WashU community despite remote circumstances."
During the course of one week, the OUR hosted six live sessions alongside the virtual symposium, providing opportunities to reimagine staple in-person OUR events like Mentor Connection into a series of Getting Started panels in different disciplines. A range of community members engaged in the week’s events, from undergraduate presenters and peers, graduate students and post-docs, to faculty, mentors, staff and families. During that time, there were nearly 2,000 visits to the event platform and more than 4,600 total presentation views. In total, there were 119 hours spent by viewers engaging with the asynchronous student presentations during the week, and the presentations remain archived and accessible for the WashU community to continue to engage with now.
As the OUR continues to propel forward in this new virtual environment, it maintains its steadfast commitment to helping students find opportunities to connect with mentors, conduct research, and share their experiences through a range of innovative platforms. We look forward to celebrating the undergraduate research conducted this past year at our upcoming Spring Celebration.