Supporting students, mentors, and instructors engaged in research.

Undergraduate Research Symposium

View the Full Program with Presenter Abstracts

April 23, 2016

Kansas Union


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


  • ACE 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 at the registration table
  • Feedback for all presenters sent after the event
  • "Getting Started in Research" sessions for students wanting to get involved
  • Giveaways for student attendees
  • Presentations from students representing a variety of majors
  • Mentor Awards at the banquet

Ways to Participate

Learn about research

  • Attend a session: See your fellow students present talks, posters, or displays about their work.
  • Attend a "Getting Started in Research" session: Experienced students from a variety of majors will speak throughout the day about their experiences and how they got involved. These panel discussions will give you concrete tips on beginning undergraduate research.

Share your work

  • Oral presentations: Present your work through a 10-minute oral presentation.
  • Artist's Talk/Performance: Give a 10-minute artist's talk with excerpts of performance or relevant samples of your work.
  • Poster presentations: Present your work visually through a poster presentation that you explain to visitors.
  • Display of Creative Work: Present and explain your work(s) through a table display.

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!

2016 Symposium

The 19th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium will be held during the afternoon and evening of April 23, 2016, in the Kansas Union.


View the Full Program with Presenter Abstracts

General schedule:

12:45-1:20: presenter registration

1:30-2:50: opening session

3:00-4:00: Session 2

4:00-4:30: break

4:30-5:30: Session 3

5:30: banquet for presenters, mentors, and guests

Register to Present your Work

  • If you are interested in participating, please complete the Symposium Student Registration Form, where you can select in 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 April 1, 2016, at 11:59 p.m.
  • If you are attending the symposium but not presenting, you do not need to register.
  • If you are presenting as a group, fill out one registration form for the whole group.

Ways to Share Your Work

There are a variety of ways you can share your research or creative scholarship at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.  Our Center will hold workshops to help you prepare, no matter which format works best for you:

  • Oral presentations: You can present your work through a 10 minute oral 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.
  • Artist's talk / performance: You may speak for 10 minutes about your creative process and situate your work within the larger context. As part of your artist's talk, you might incorporate slides or excerpts of your work, such as original poetry, a dance performance, or a piece of music. See more guidelines about artist's talks/performances (pdf)...
  • 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.  Posters should be at most 3 feet tall by 4 feet wide. 
  • Display of creative work:  You can showcase your creative project through a table display at the Symposium.  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 artist's talk/performance (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. See more guidelines about displays of creative work (pdf)...

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

Prepare to Register

Staff from the Center will lead an interactive workshop for those interested in applying for an ACE Talk. This workshop will focus on how to write an abstract and communicating your research in a broad way. Bring a draft of your abstract (however rough it may be) to work on during this time.

ACE Talk Application Workshop:

  • Monday March 28, 2016 4-5pm Malott Room, Kansas Union

Prepare to Present

To help you prepare to present your work, workshops will be offered in the weeks leading up to the symposium.  All students presenting their work are required to attend a presentation workshop. If one of these times does not work with your schedule, please contact us to set up a time to meet individually with a staff member.

As you prepare, we also recommend that you look over the rubrics the judges will be using to evaluate and provide feedback about your presentation. Oral presentations will be evaluated using the oral presentation rubric (pdf) (research talks) or the artist's talk rubric (pdf) (creative talks), and poster/displays will be evaluated using the poster presentation rubric (pdf) (research) or the creative displays rubric (pdf) (creative projects).  Awards for outstanding presentations will be announced at the banquet dinner.

  • Oral presentation & Artist's Talk workshops:
    • Monday, April 11, 2016, 3-4pm The Jay, Kansas Union
    • Tuesday, April 12, 2016, 4 – 5pm Malott Room, Kansas Union
    • Thursday, April 14, 2016, 4 – 5pm Kansas Room, Kansas Union
    • Monday, April 18, 2016, 4-5pm Jayhawk Room, Kansas Union
  • Poster presentation & Display of Creative Work workshops:
    • Monday April 11, 2016, 4 – 5pm Centennial Room, Kansas Union
    • Tuesday, April 12, 2016, 1 – 2pm The Jay, Kansas Union
    • Wednesday, April 13, 2016, 3-4pm Centennial Room, Kansas Union
    • Thursday, April 14, 2016, 1 – 2pm Big 12 Room, Kansas Union

Poster presentations should be 3 feet tall by 4 feet wide. Oral presentations should be 10 minutes in length.


Prepare to Attend

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 casually. 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 online.  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 Artist's Talks

  • 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.
  • Being 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 Talks

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 Talks will receive a $500 award and be recognized during the opening remarks for the symposium. Apply to give an ACE 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

The Center gives two awards (one for faculty and one for staff/graduate students) at the Symposium every year to 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


Symposium 2014
Symposium 2014
Symposium 2013

Symposium Quick Links

Register to present at the Symposium

Deadline: 11:59 pm, April 1, 2016

Connect With Us
Countdown to the 2016
Research teaches critical thinking and problem solving — top skills sought by employers
The Research Experience Program has certified more than 2,000 students since 2005
KU is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research
More than 1,200 students have received Undergraduate Research Awards since 1986
More than 150 mentors sponsored undergraduate projects through the Center for Undergraduate Research each year
KU's first valedictorian, Flora Richardson, conducted research as an undergraduate before graduating in 1873
Highlight your research on your transcript: Get certified through the Research Experience Program
Use research to apply what you learned in the classroom to a real problem
Students who perform research develop strong relationships with KU faculty
Research is a hands-on way to explore career options
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
26 prestigious Rhodes Scholars — more than all other Kansas colleges combined