OURS prepares for Undergraduate Research Fair


This year’s fair will be held in multiple digital sessions over Zoom. (Courtesy / Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship)

Katherine Arnold, Staff Reporter

On Tuesday Oct. 6, the 11th annual Undergraduate Research Fair (URF) will be held virtually through the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS). Every year, the fair has been hosted in order to offer undergraduate students the opportunity to explore the different research and creative projects available across many GVSU departments.  Over the past ten years, the fair has been held on the Allendale campus, but for the first time this year, it will be held virtually in order to accommodate social distancing regulations.

“We had to approach the fair a bit differently,” said OURS Director Susan Mendoza. “Being on Zoom is certainly different from previous years, and students and faculty will need to be more intentional than in years’ past. Using the camera will help make the conversation more personalized.”

Rather than being able to casually start conversations while walking by, the transition involves active participation from each student to visit the departments that they are interested in working with or learning more about. And hopefully, the virtual setting will allow more students and faculty to be able to attend. Although the setting is different, the same motivation and excitement is in the air.

“Nearly every department that participated last year is back again, with a couple new ones as well,” Mendoza said. “Faculty are excited to connect with students, despite the virtual format.”

The fair will be set up in Zoom from 5-7 p.m., with each department having their own corresponding Zoom room. OURS will also have a Zoom room where students can find out more about the programs they host. As an open-house style, students are able to look in advance for when their desired department will be hosting a Zoom room. They can plan accordingly and use their time wisely in order to visit all of the departments that they are interested in talking with.

Before the virtual event starts, there will also be a student panel at 4 p.m., “Talking to Faculty: Making the most of your URF Experience.” There, students can learn more about other students’ experiences and more information before the official event.

Danielle Uribe, a graduate assistant for OURS, has been working closely with the planning for the URF. While the planning has been different than past years, she is still looking forward to how the event will be able to help attending students. “

“My favorite part about the URF is connecting with students who weren’t thinking about research before they attended,” Uribe said. “Students may have some preconceived notions about what research is or think that only certain types of students can take part. The truth is, research can be a valuable experience for any student willing to try it, and URF is a great way to show them that.”

For students interested in attending the event, there are a few things Uribe and Mendoza would like to recommend. Mendoza stressed that students need to ask the right questions, whether it be preparing questions to learn more about what research looks like in a discipline or how a student could explore a current issue. Uribe said students should explore a range of opportunities and be open to anything.

“The best thing to bring to URF is an open mind,” said Uribe. “Talk to different departments that interest you, even if it’s outside your current major. If you have some specific departments or professors in mind, consider looking at what research they’re working on or have done in the past. Doing your homework is a great way to make an impression on faculty and show them that you’re serious about research.”

For more information about which departments will be participating, as well as the times for their Zoom rooms, check out the event page at https://www.gvsu.edu/ours/undergraduate-research-fair-2020-889.htm.