Supporting students, mentors, and instructors engaged in research.

Undergraduate Research Symposium

Save the Date

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.

Ways to Participate

Learn about research

  • 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 from a variety of majors will speak throughout the day about their research 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 (also called an artist's talk, lecture, or paper presentation).
  • Performances: You may give a performance along with a brief artist's talk.
  • Poster presentations: Present your work visually through a poster presentation that you explain to visitors.
  • Share art, creative work, design or a product: Present and explain your work(s) through a table display or in a demonstration area.

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. We will publish the final schedule of presenters for the Symposium on this webpage during the third week in April.


  • 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
  • Feedback for all presenters sent after the event
  • "Getting Started in Research" sessions for students wanting to get involved
  • Giveaways for student attendees
  • Creative performances and research talks at one campus-wide event
  • Mentor Awards at the banquet
  • Poster sessions with a disciplinary focus



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, 2015, 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, each student presenter needs to fill out a registration form.

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. Posters should be at most 3 feet tall by 4 feet wide. 
  • 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 you will be required to attend a workshop or meet with Center staff to help you prepare for the Symposium.

Prepare to Register

Staff from the Writing Center will lead an interactive workshop about abstract writing. Be sure to bring a draft (however rough it may be) to work on during this time.

Abstract writing workshop:

March 30, 2015: 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm Centennial Room in 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 downloadable rubrics the judges will be using 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:



Poster presentation workshops:



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 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.
  • 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 Research 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 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


Symposium 2014
Symposium 2014
Symposium 2013

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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
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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
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