The annual Undergraduate Research Symposium was held May 26, continuing the yearly tradition of honoring the work of the University of Nevada, Reno’s undergraduate researchers.
Each year, Undergraduate Research, part of Research & Innovation at the University, awards students seeking to conduct research projects beyond those being offered in their classes. Participants gain the opportunity to experience all aspects of research, including the processes of grant-writing and communication.
Undergraduate Research awards support projects from a variety of disciplines, emphasizing those associated with a focus on community, early-career development, honors theses, first-generation students and students who are otherwise underrepresented.
Due to the ongoing pandemic crisis, this year’s Symposium was held virtually – a dramatic change from the usual format which hosts several hundred attendees for a combination of presentations and poster-viewing. This typically includes contributions from many undergraduate research projects, not only those funded by Undergraduate Research.
To help facilitate operations in this new format, the list of potential presenters was shortened to include only Undergraduate Research awardees. These participants were given additional time to prepare for their presentations. In an effort to make the new online symposium more easily digestible, each presentation was held in time-limited video call sessions moderated by Undergraduate Research and open to the public.
Fifty-eight project presentations were held across the single-day event and included research in STEM as well as the social sciences, arts and humanities. Among these presentations was the Living Lab, a project led by Dean of Students Kimberly Thomas in collaboration with the Honors Program and further supported by Undergraduate Research, McNair Scholars program, Student Services, The Graduate School and First in the Pack program. The Living Lab is to provide historically underrepresented and first-generation students with team-oriented research opportunities that directly address university life, diversity and wellness.
In one project featured at the Symposium, “The Design of Artificial Robots, Muscle Movement,” undergraduate researcher Cianan Brennan showcased his work in prosthetic hand mechanisms. His designs featured a 3D-printed hand, which uses smaller and more manipulatable actuators to create a more practical innovation on existing prosthetic technology.
Other presentations included Cesar Piedra’s sculptural representation of first-generation Mesoamerican cultures, a project on multisensory temporal processing by Kudzai Chifamba and an assessment of marketability for a bat-friendly tequila from Hannah Kalsman. These, among many other outstanding projects, made for an exceptional debut of the virtual Undergraduate Research Symposium.
Those awardees unable to attend this recent Symposium will have another opportunity to present and participate in the fall, as a second virtual Undergraduate Research Symposium will be held at that time.