Presenting research prepares students for graduate programs and study-related career paths, but opportunities to do so are often rare.
The annual Undergraduate Research Day takes place April 8, and abstract review submissions for presentation spots close Feb. 25. Dixie State College students are invited to take part in a process many students don’t experience until later academic endeavors.
Curt Walker, an undergraduate research committee member and professor of biology, said the event is about more than students showing assignments.
“Undergraduate Research Day is about showcasing some of the interesting things our students do that’s not classwork,” Walker said, mentioning many students in his discipline that study in Zion National Park and build those experiences through further study.
Lacy Culpepper, a junior English major from Clinton, presented at the last two Undergraduate Research Days and said writing an adequate paper is a small part of preparing.
“I knew the presentation itself would have to be just as good as the paper I wrote; everything had to be in line,” Culpepper said.
Walker said participants’ speaking mechanics fuel the presentation. Presenters who fill the air with rambling and have little knowledge of their audience might not influence event-goers as strong as those who speak well. Students interested in showcasing research at the event most hone all aspects.
In addition, students must keep track of time and provide answers to questions after.
Theda Wrede, undergraduate research committee chair and associate professor of English, said tackling all tasks in preparation and presenting at Undergraduate Research Day gives confidence and credentials that enable students to thrive when larger opportunities at professional conferences arrive.
Undergraduate Research Day is a fine starting point that provides an environment first-time presenters can ease into Pilkington said.
“It has a friendly atmosphere; they will see their classmates and friends presenting papers,” said Olga Pilkington, an undergraduate research committee member and English instructor. “It’s less intimidating and confusing than going to a professional conference, especially if students aren’t sure what their major is.”
Culpepper said students not interested in graduate school may also present at the event because championing speaking and presenting skills aid in most careers. She said presenting is a universal skill and tool for numerous career fields and by researching interesting, new ways to look at a subject, first-timers can thrive.
Students, DSC staff and St. George residents are invited. Wrede said the event is as much a community event as a college one. It appeals to someone interested in a wide array of matter or to a community member intrigued in local topics.
Undergraduate Research Day lasts five hours, but presentation time hovers around 10 minutes. Pilkington said attendees get much in a small time-span.
“You can spend 10 minutes and attend [the event],” Pilkington said. “You don’t have to be there from noon to 5.”
To learn more about Undergraduate Research Day, visit the Undergraduate Research Committee page at Dixe.edu/urc.