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Undergraduate Research Symposium

Save the Date

April 26, 2014

Kansas Union

11:45am-12:00pm Check-in for UGRA winners
12:00-12:45 UGRA Luncheon for UGRA recipients and their mentors
12:00-1:00pm General Check-in
1-1:20pm Opening Remarks
1:30-2:30pm Session 1: ACE Research Talks
2:45-3:45pm Session 2
3:45-4:15pm Break
4:15-5:15pm Session 3
5:30-7pm Awards Banquet for all presenters and their mentors

View the full 2014 Undergraduate Research Symposium schedule here (pdf).


The Undergraduate Research Symposium is an annual event at KU that celebrates the diversity of undergraduate research and creative activities on campus.  Whether you are a freshman interested in exploring what opportunities you have at KU or a senior who is looking for a venue to share the results of your scholarship, you'll find some events at the Undergraduate Research Symposium of interest to you.

Ways to Participate:

The Symposium will offer the following opportunities to participate. 

  • Learn about research: Whether you are an experienced researcher or are simply interested in learning about what other students are doing, you'll find plenty of ways to participate.
    • Attend a session: See your fellow students give oral presentations, performances, and poster presentations about their scholarship.
    • Attend a "Getting Started in Research" Session: Experienced students with a variety of majors will be speaking throughout the day about their undergraduate research experiences and how they got involved. These panel discussions will give you some concrete tips to get started doing undergraduate research.
  • Share your work: If you're already engaged in research and scholarly activity, you can take part by sharing your work with others at the symposium.
    • Oral presentations: You can present your work through a 10 minute oral presentation (also called an artist's talk, lecture, or paper presentation).
    • Performances:  You may present a performance along with a brief artist's talk.
    • Poster presentations: Present your work visually through a poster presentation that you describe to visitors.
    • Sharing of art, creative work, design or a product:  Present your work(s) through a table display or in a demonstration area that you explain to visitors.
  • All KU undergraduate students are invited to attend, whether you are presenting your projects or are simply wanting to learn more about undergraduate research. 
  • Parents, friends, research mentors, and anyone else who is interested in undergraduate research are also invited to attend the Symposium.  The presenting students have some great projects to share, so don't miss out on the opportunity to learn about some unique research!

2014 Symposium

The 17th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium will be held during the afternoon and evening of April 26, 2014 in the Kansas Union.  We will publish the final schedule for the Symposium on this webpage during the third week in April.

What's new in 2014?

This year our Symposium will have some new features, including:

  • ACE Research Talks: Accessible, Creative, and Engaging talks for a broad audience with a monetary award for presenters
  • Outstanding Presentation Awards to be awarded to students at the banquet
  • T-shirts for all presenters picked up at the registration table
  • UGRA luncheon for student recipients and mentors
  • Feedback for all presenters sent after the event
  • "Getting Started in Research" sessions for students wanting to get involved

But don't worry, we'll still be doing some of the things you liked about last year's symposium including:

  • Giveaways for student attendees
  • Creative performances
  • Mentor Awards at the banquet
  • Poster sessions with a disciplinary focus

11:45am-12:00pm Check-in for UGRA winners
12:00-12:45 UGRA Luncheon
12:00-1:00pm General Check-in
1-1:20pm Opening Remarks
1:30-2:30pm ACE Research Talks
2:45-3:45pm General Session 1
3:45-4:15pm Break
4:15-5:15pm General Session 2
5:30-7 Banquet



Register to Present your Work

If you are interested in presenting your research or creative work, please fill out the Symposium Student Registration Form.  All students will be asked to provide an abstract or artist statement of no more than 250 words describing their research/creative scholarship. Every student who presents their work will receive a free t-shirt, be eligible for awards, and will be invited to attend the banquet dinner.  Submit your registration by March 26, 2014 at 5pm. If you are attending the symposium but not presenting, you do not need to register.

Register to Present your Work

If you are interested in presenting your scholarship through one of these means, please fill out the Symposium Student Registration Form, where you can select which format you would like to present your scholarship.  All students will be asked to provide an abstract or artist statement of no more than 250 words describing their research/creative scholarship. The KU Writing Center website provides tips for writing abstracts. Registration must be received by March 26, 2014 at 5pm.

Ways to Share Your Work

There are a variety of ways you can share your research or creative scholarship at the Undergraduate Research Symposium:

  • Oral presentations: You can present your work through a 10 minute oral presentation (also called an artist's talk, lecture, or paper presentation). If you choose this option, you would give a 10 minute presentation to a small group of people in a session with students from similar disciplines. If you're presenting creative works you should show slides of your work, along with an explanation about your creative process.
  • Performances:  You may choose to present a performance along with a brief artist's talk.  Examples include such things as reading original poetry, showing a short video of a dance performance, or playing a piece of music.  You will also be expected to speak about your creative process and situate your work within the larger context.  Performances will take place on the stage of the Hawk's Nest on the first floor of the Kansas Union, so keep these space limitations in mind when considering how best to present your work; videos or slides of your creative works may be the best option for presentation.  Please contact the Center for Undergraduate Research at if you have special requests for facilities or audio-visual needs.
  • Poster presentations: Present your work visually through a poster presentation that you describe to visitors. If you choose this option, you would create a poster (see examples here) and stand next to your poster to discuss your research during a designated time of the Symposium.  Our Center will hold workshops to coach you through the poster making process. 
  • Sharing of art, creative work, design or a product:  You can showcase your creative products during the Symposium.  We will have a room set up with tables to share creative works from across campus.  You can bring in photographs of your artwork, sketches, textiles, etc.  You can also opt to bring a laptop to show short videos or slides of your work. This is a more informal way to share your work than an oral presentation (above); if you choose this option, you would stand next to your work to informally discuss your creative process with visitors during a designated time of the Symposium. 

Please note that if you register to present your work at the Symposium you will be required to attend a workshop or meet with Center staff to help you prepare for the Symposium.


Prepare to Apply

The KU Research Leaders and staff from the Center for Undergraduate Research and Writing Center will give students tips for writing their abstracts during two interactive workshops.  You'll have plenty of time after this workshop to prepare your abstract before our March 26th deadline.

Abstract writing workshops:

March 10, 2014: 10am-11am Parlors ABC, Kansas Union

March 11, 2014: 10am-11am Malott Rm, Kansas Union

Prepare to Present

 To help you prepare to present your work at the Symposium, the Center for Undergraduate Research will be offering workshops in the weeks leading up to the event.  All students presenting their work are required to attend a presentation workshop.  If one of these times does not work with your schedule, please email to set up a time to meet individually with a staff member. Poster presentations should be 3 ft tall by 4ft wide. 
Judges will be using these downloadable rubrics to evaluate and provide feedback about your poster presentations and oral presentations.  Awards for outstanding presentations will be announced at the banquet dinner.

Oral presentation workshops:

April 15, 2014: 3-4pm English Room, Kansas Union

April 21, 2014: 2-3pm Alderson Auditorium, Kansas Union

Poster presentation workshops:

April 2, 2014 3-4pm: Centennial Room, Kansas Union

April 10, 2014 3-4pm: English Room, Kansas Union

Prepare to Attend

Is this your first time attending the symposium?  Most people haven't been to anything quite like a research symposium.  It's an exciting event full of energetic people who care deeply about the topics they're discussing - that's what makes it so fun!  But it can also be overwhelming as a first time attendee.  Let's start with the basics:

What should I wear?

If you're attending as an audience member, you can dress pretty casually for our symposium.  If you're attending a national conference, we'd recommend asking your faculty mentor this question for guidance. 

If you're presenting at our symposium, we'd recommend dressing up a bit - go with a business casual outfit.  When you look good, you usually feel good going into your presentation. The KU Career Center has a free professional clothing closet available.  

When should I arrive?

If you're attending as an audience member, we recommend arriving 10 minutes early so you can be sure to find a seat, turn off your cell phone, and take a quick glance at the program booklet.  Mark sessions, performances, and poster presentations that you want to be sure to attend.  This will help you keep your schedule straight as the day goes on.

If you're presenting at our symposium, make sure to arrive about 20-30 minutes early during the registration period so you can check-in, locate your room, prepare your talk, display, or poster, and still have time to look at the program booklet.  As you plan your schedule for the day, make sure to build in some buffer time before your presentation so that you can do any last minute talk practice or relaxation that you may need. 

What's this booklet you gave me?

The program booklet is your guide to the day.  It lists the times and locations for all of the sessions and breaks.  We also include abstracts or artist's statements for each student.  This information is a brief description of the project and can be really helpful as you decide which presentations to go see. 

What are the unwritten etiquette rules for the Symposium?

Here are some general rules of thumb to help you avoid a symposium faux pas:

Oral Presentations and Performances:

  • If you want to take photos, be sure to get permission from the presenter ahead of time.
  • Make sure your phone is silenced and put away.
  • Pay attention to the performance or presentation; so don't whisper to your friend or text your mom. 
  • Be an active participant by taking notes on intriguing ideas or jotting down questions during each presentation will help you get the most out of the day.
  • Applaud the presenter at the end of the talk or performance.
  • Ask questions at the end of the talk or performance. You might refer to your notes to help you remember your questions from earlier in the presentation. Questions that spark the best conversation typically follow up on something the presenter talked about; don't set out with a goal of stumping someone.
  • If you arrive late or need to leave in the middle of a session, wait to move around until the breaks in between presenters.  If that's not possible, try to sit close to the door or at the back of the room.

Displays or Poster Presentations:

  • If you see a presenter without an audience, don't just stand there - go find out about that project.
  • When you approach a display or poster presentation, introduce yourself and ask the presenter to explain the project.
  • Ask questions especially if the project is about a subject that is new to you.  Your questions could just be about how the presenter got involved or what the next steps would be.
  • Thank the presenter for telling you about the project.


Student Awards

ACE Research Talks Six students will be selected ahead of time to present talks during special sessions targeted at a broad audience.  These research projects and the talks themselves will be Accessible, Creative, and Engaging.  Presenters of the ACE Research Talks will receive a monetary award and be recognized during the opening remarks for the symposium. Apply to give an ACE Research Talk when you register for the symposium.

Outstanding Presentation Awards: All students are eligible for these monetary awards to be announced at the banquet.  As part of the evaluation process, each student will receive written feedback about his or her presentation following the symposium.  Students giving oral presentations in the natural sciences, social sciences, and engineering will also be eligible for an award from the Sigma Xi professional society, which will be announced the week after the symposium.

Mentor Awards

  • These awards recognize the work of outstanding research mentors on KU's campus.  Students may nominate their research mentor(s); student nominations are then forwarded to individual departments or faculty members for official submission.   Please review our mentor awards page for more details.

Past Events



2013 Symposium


The 16th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium was held during the afternoon and evening of April 27, 2013 in the Kansas Union.  View the full program here. 

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