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UWRF brings large number of researchers to conference

March 3, 2011

One chartered jet wasn’t enough to fit all the UW-River Falls students going to present at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research this year; they had to reserve two.

The Society for Undergraduate Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activities, or SURSCA, has been sending students to the NCUR since 2002. Since that time, SURSCA had sent around 25-30 students per year.

Tim Lyden, SURSCA faculty adviser, said he used to joke about chartering a plane for the trip, but never thought it was a viable option for so few people.

“When we got to over 50 [students], all of the sudden it wasn’t so silly,” Lyden said.

This year, UWRF has 85 students presenting at NCUR, making them the third largest group of presenters attending the national conference, held at Ithaca College in New York.

Ithaca College has the highest number of presenters, followed by Cornell University, which is located less than three miles away from Ithaca College.

The planes, chartered from Sun Country Airlines, will carry 320 people from the Midwest region to the conference, including students from 10 regional campuses.

The NCUR is one of the premier conferences for undergraduate research and creative studies, Lyden said. More than 1,500 students nationwide were accepted to present their research at the conference, out of more than 3,000 that applied.

According to the Ithaca NCUR 2011 website, students can present research at the NCUR on wide range of topics. This year some of the topics range from “biochemistry to sport management, from communications to astronomy, from dance to sustainability, from African American studies to nursing, including many MANY more.”

Tim Morris Jr., president of SURSCA, will be presenting research on understanding more about stem cells and how they interact in three dimensions at NCUR this year.

“This is important because scientists used to study cells in flat culture, but in the body cells are in a three dimensional environment,” Morris said.

Morris went to the conference last year in Montana, and said he had an “amazing experience.”

He added that he enjoyed speaking with peers from all over the nation, including students from Hawaii. Morris also said he learned a lot about professionalism from going to the conference.

Samantha Wagner said she is excited about presenting her research for the first time at the national conference. Wagner, a psychology major and biology minor, got accepted to present two of her projects at NCUR this year, one in each of her fields of study.

“I think that presenting there is very beneficial to a person. It helps them grow, connect with other individuals, it promotes the work you are doing, others might become inspired by your work,” Wagner said.

SURSCA will also be attending Posters in the Rotunda this year, an event where students can showcase their research poster inside the state capitol rotunda in Madison. In the past, SURSCA members have traveled to places such as: Salt Lake City; San Rafael, Calif.; Lexington, Va., and Missoula, Mont.

NCUR has been held at UW system schools twice; once at UW-Whitewater in 2002 and once at UW-LaCrosse in 2009.