Undergraduate fair to showcase research possibilities at GVSU

GVL/Kevin Sielaff - Lori Houghton (right) speaks with students Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014 during the research fair held in the Grand River Room.

GVL/Kevin Sielaff – Lori Houghton (right) speaks with students Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014 during the research fair held in the Grand River Room.

Samantha Kolk

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS) is sponsoring its ninth annual Undergraduate Research Fair Tuesday, Oct. 3, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Grand River Room of the Kirkhof Center.

The event’s purpose is to inform students of undergraduate research opportunities at GVSU. Students of any major will have the chance to connect with faculty members to discuss potentially participating in projects. 

“This was started in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences years ago, and they invited us when our office was founded,” said Susan Mendoza, the director of OURS. “They invited us to come participate, and we started inviting other colleges, and it kept on getting bigger and bigger.”

Mendoza said there were opportunities beyond science research projects. 

“We have students who are involved and do creative work in photography, theater and music,” Mendoza said. “We have students that are doing work in the social sciences, whether you’re talking about psychology or anthropology.”

Students in any area of study are welcome and encouraged to attend. 

“Generally, we encourage first-year and second-year students to come, especially transfer students,” Mendoza said.

She explained that transfer students are often ready to incorporate research into their lives but they don’t always know of the resources available to do so at GVSU.

“Generally, about 400 to 500 students attend,” she said.

One of the students working with OURS is Megan Plekker, an OURS student ambassador. 

“Two summers ago, I was able to do undergraduate research through the S3 program—the Student Summer Scholars program—in which I participated in creating a research project about organic structures and using eye-tracking systems for chemical education,” Plekker said.

Through the research she was involved in and OURS, Plekker was able to present at an American Chemical Society meeting in California.

“Personally, I think it’s built a lot of my confidence up talking to adults and professors and being able to present in front of a classroom,” she said. “I got to see the real workings of research, not just what you do in a classroom.”

Before the Undergraduate Research Fair starts, there will be two separate panels from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The student panel will take place in Room 2259 of the Kirkhof Center and will help attendees anticipate what to expect at the fair. It is comprised of students who will discuss their own experiences with being involved in research at GVSU.

“There are some folks that have been doing research with a faculty member for three, four years and some that have just started, and their goal is to really talk with students who are interested in getting involved but aren’t sure how to start,” Mendoza said. “Like, how do you talk to faculty? What is the experience like? How much time does it take? Is it really valuable to you as a student and as a potential employee?” 

The event isn’t just for students contemplating research involvement: It’s for faculty as well.

The faculty panel will take place in Room 2215/2216 of the Kirkhof Center. It’s aimed at newer faculty members. A panel of more experienced faculty members will help address questions from them as they consider the involvement of students in their research. The panel will help new faculty gain information on involving undergraduate students and funding, among other issues.