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URSCA event highlights students’ hard work

May 6, 2015

The spring Undergraduate Research, Scholarly and Creative Activity (URSCA) Day was held on April 30, and showcased the work of over 230 UW-River Falls undergraduates.

“URSCA is all-encompassing so that’s definitely where the undergraduate research scholarly and creative activity comes from. It allows students from every discipline on campus to conduct a research project within their field of study,” said URSCA Coordinator Elizabeth Jordahl. “It highlights skills and lets students do more hands-on learning on high impact practices outside of the classroom.”

Research at the event was represented through posters, short films, art exhibits, PowerPoints, and interactive displays which were presented to students, faculty, staff, community members, alumni and family of undergraduates.

“We love to see them all come. That’s a big part of the research process. It starts with finding your project, finding your mentor, picking your topic but it ends with dissemination,” Jordahl said. “So they haven’t officially completed until they’ve presented their research. So it’s a great way for them to present their research and in such a big way.”

According to students and staff involved with URSCA, there are many benefits including thinking outside the box and gaining both soft skills such as public speaking but also hard skills of actually conducting a research project.

“My involvement with URSCA has been a very positive one,” said sophomore physics student Elliot Pachniak. “They provide the funding for the projects and we wouldn’t be able to do half of the research we do without them. They’re an integral part of how we get things done.”

Each year, new majors and projects are also highlighted.  This year Dance Theatre presented a live performance, social work majors presented their senior thesis, and short films which are usually only displayed on a large screen were also shown on two smaller screens with headphones. In addition, new food items were also available for taste testing including a healthy cookie and new ice cream flavors.

Junior theater arts student Josh Gustafson created a short film exploring the differences between Japanese and American horror. His film was so impressive it even won outstanding presentation at the UW System Symposium.

“URSCA is an opening to show what you’re made of, what you know, and to have fun with it,” Gustafson said.

Senior horticulture student Brittany Rootes also presented a brand new project not only to URSCA, but to UWRF as well: the living green wall.

“The project was on the impact of the living green wall and seeing how installing it, in a classroom, affected student attitude, mood and academics,” Rootes said.

In addition to presenting at URSCA Day on campus, students are also given the opportunity to attend conferences around the country. Recently, 82 students attended the National Conference of Undergraduate Research (NCUR) in Spokane, Washington.

“Students were able to see speakers, workshops, interactive presentations, as well as present their own research project and see the work of their peers from across the nation,” Jordahl said.

Jordahl also sees attending conferences such as these as beneficial because then other people around the country will know about UWRF’s program.

For students who maybe are not sure if URSCA is right for them, according to Rootes, there are a multitude of benefits.

“Involvement boosts your resume, and it looks excellent to employers,” Rootes said. “It also says a lot about your character based on patience, reliance and work on a project. It teaches you a lot of skills such as grant writing, poster creation, research methods and learning about other disciplines.”

For more information about URSCA, go to www.uwrf.edu/URSCA/.