*** NOTE ***
By Anna Sarkissian
At 9:15 on Friday morning, the oral presentations began. Some of the brightest students from the Faculty of Arts and Science were on site to present their research to a panel of judges in the J.A. DeSève Cinema.
Outside in the lobby of the Library Building, more than 75 students were milling about, setting up their posters on cork boards to prepare for passing students, professors and visitors.
By 4 p.m., it was all over. Wine was poured, cheese platters unwrapped and nerves settled.
The fourth annual Undergraduate Research Day gave these students a much-needed opportunity to talk about their work, says the Faculty’s Associate Dean Cathy Bolton, who organized the event with Research Facilitators Michele Kaplan and Mona Hamzeh, and Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies, Graham Carr.
“Selling yourself, marketing yourself – it’s training for whatever you want to do in life,” Bolton says. “Sure, some of the students were a little nervous starting out, but after a few minutes they were going full steam ahead.”
Thirty-six judges from across the departments circulated during the adjudication to evaluate the posters and the oral presentations.
Journalism student Gaëlle Engelberts stood at the podium in the DeSève and confidently told the audience about the role of science journalists in Canada with the aid of PowerPoint slides.
As part of a larger project supervised by assistant professor David Secko, she and a classmate did preliminary work interviewing 19 science journalists across Canada. The project aims to develop clearer models for production standards.
“This work is exploratory. It’s really designed to enlarge our thinking,” she said. “It was a great way for me to see what is waiting for me outside university.”
Back in the lobby, honours chemistry and co-op student Sara Aly was waiting by her poster, ready to convince the public that chemistry is the future.
“You can’t get away from it, it’s everywhere,” she said.
Aly is graduating this semester and can’t help but smile while talking about her experience. “I worked with a great supervisor. You could ask any question without feeling stupid.”
After two semesters of intensive research attempting to optimize a new method in cross-coupling reactions (which could one day by applied to drug synthesis), she said the hardest part was condensing her results into 16 panels for her display.
Cash prizes worth $1 800 were handed out to the top six students.
The best oral presentation awards went to Menachem Freedman from the Liberal Arts College, Kiran Vadagan from psychology and Lyn Charland from sociology and anthropology.
The best poster prizes went to Emilie Roberts from history, Joey Nguyen from chemistry and biochemistry and Francine Small from sociology and anthropology.
The event was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and NSERC. Find out more about the Faculty of Arts and Science.