Undergraduate Research Symposium


Save the date for the 23rd Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium: April 25, 2020



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.


Ways to Participate

Learn about research

  • Attend a session: See your fellow students present talks, posters, or displays about their work.

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!

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend University of Kansas sponsored events. If you require a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this event, please contact the Center for Undergraduate Research by April 10, 2019 at 785-864-5733 or cur@ku.edu.

2019 Symposium

The 22nd annual Undergraduate Research Symposium will be held on April 27, 2019, in the Kansas Union and Spooner Hall (the Commons).

See the schedule of student presenters and abstracts (pdf)...

2019 Schedule

  • 12:45-1:20: Presenter check-in
  • 1:30-2:45: Opening session
  • 3:00-4:00: General Session 2
  • 4:20-5:20: General Session 3
  • 5:30-6:30: Banquet for student presenters, their guests, and mentors


Register to Present your Work

  • If you are interested in presenting, complete the Symposium Student Registration Form, where you can select what type of presentation you'd like to give.
  • All students will be asked to provide an abstract or artist statement of no more than 250 words describing their research/creative scholarship, as well as 2-4 keywords that could be used to search for your presentation. The KU Writing Center website provides tips for writing abstracts>>; advice on writing abstracts and developing keywords can also be found on this site from Springer>>.
  • On the registration form, students will select whether they would like to have a judge evaluate their presentation at the event.  Students who are evaluated will be eligible for an Outstanding Presentation Award and will get feedback emailed to them after the event.
  • Registration must be received by March 20, 2019, 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 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)...
  • ACE Talks: Three students will also be selected to give one of the opening talks at the Symposium.  Read more about the ACE Talks...

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 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 for students who have opted in to being evaluated. Oral presentations will be evaluated using the oral presentation rubric (pdf) (research talks) or the artist's talk rubric (pdf) (artist talks), and poster/displays will be evaluated using the poster presentation rubric (pdf) (research) or the creative displays rubric (pdf) (arts projects).  Awards for outstanding presentations will be announced at the banquet dinner.

  • Oral presentation & Artist's Talk workshops:
    • Monday, April 22, 2019, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM; Alderson Auditorium, Kansas Union
    • Tuesday, April 23, 2019 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM; Parlor ABC, Kansas Union
    • Wednesday, April 24, 2019 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM; The Jay, Kansas Union
  • Poster presentation & Display of Creative Work workshops:
    • Monday, April 15, 2019, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM; Parlor ABC, Kansas Union
    • Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM; Malott Room, Kansas Union
    • Wednesday, April 17, 2019, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM; Malott 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. 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 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.

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.
  • 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

Three students will be selected ahead of time to present talks during the opening session of the Symposium.  These research projects and the talks themselves will be Accessible, Creative, and Engaging.  Presenters of the ACE Talks will receive a $500 award. Students can apply to give an ACE Talk when they register for the Symposium.


Outstanding Presentation Awards

When students register for the Symposium, they choose whether they would like to be evaluated by a judge the day of the event.  All students who elect to be evaluated will be eligible for an Outstanding Presentation Award, to be announced at the banquet.  Each student who is evaluated by a judge will receive written feedback about their 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 recommend their research mentor(s); student recommendations are then forwarded to individual departments or faculty members for official submission.   Please review our mentor awards page for more details.

Frequently Asked Questions

What counts as a research project? Am I ready to present?

Students presenting at the Symposium are at various stages in the research process.  To get a sense of whether you are ready, watch this quick video about the Research Cycle. Student presenters at the Symposium can usually talk about Steps 1 and 2 in some depth (their topic and what other scholars have said about it), and can at least describe the plan for Steps 3 & 4 (primary research and analysis). You don't necessarily have to have completed your research or have final results to present, though students who are further along in the process may be more competitive for the Outstanding Presentation Awards.

The point of the Symposium is to share ideas and get feedback, so if you have enough of a sense of your project to have a conversation about it, go ahead and sign up!

Can students request to be in the same session for oral presentations?

If you have multiple students giving oral presentations who want to be in the same session, have each student individually fill out the online registration form and then send an email to cur@ku.edu with the names of the four students who would like to be together. Students who are giving one presentation as a group should fill out one form together. We will do our best to put you in the same session. This is not required, though

Symposium Quick Links

Register to present at the Symposium

Deadline: 11:59 pm, March 20, 2019

Connect With Us
Countdown to the 2019
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
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report