The Center for Undergraduate Research put on its third annual Undergraduate Research and Academic Showcase on Wednesday in the Wells Conference Center.
Eighty-two undergraduate students’ research projects were showcased in the event. An open conference room housed upwards of 80 posters, with the students standing nearby to answer any questions regarding their research.
“It’s really to showcase what undergraduates are doing,” said Nancy Hall, director of CUGR.“The more [students] that we can get from across campus, the better.”
The purpose of this showcase is to demonstrate how many undergraduates at UMaine engage in original research, work commonly attributed to graduate students.
Throughout the day, students presented their research to a room of judges, faculty and fellow students. At the end of the day judges chose winners in the poster, oral presentation and exhibit categories.
But the excitement was felt not only among the winning projects.
Zachary Knights, a second-year chemical engineering student, and Ruth Castillo, a second-year biochemical engineering and renewable energy student, were thrilled to have the opportunity to present their joint research on biofuels in a presentation called “Oxygen and Hydrogen Trends of Thermally Developed Deoxygenated Carboxylate Salts.”
“It’s a very good opportunity for me to learn a lot, and I’m just excited to see where we can take this,” Castillo said.
Both students were confident that doing this research now will help them later in their careers.
“I’d really like to go into a field like this, something with renewable energies, so that’s actually why I decided to do [this research],” Knights said.
They credit the university for their opportunity to do this research.
“I emailed my advisor saying I was interested in doing research with biofuel, and he connected me with a few faculty members who provided me with this research opportunity,” Knights said.
It’s not just science students who have an opportunity to participate.
“It’s really quite an amazing range of projects,” Hall said.
Jennifer Moulton, a senior sociology student, exhibited her research on “Clothing, Cuisine, and Companions: The Social Construction of Specie-ism.” Moulton was shocked at how little sociological research had been done on animals and took this opportunity to explore that gap.
“To an extent, [this research] is pioneering,” Moulton said. “And that’s exciting as well because so few people have done studies on this area. It allows me to get my foot in the door and say, ‘Hey, I’m one of the first people to do this.’”
Hall believes the chance to showcase research and interact with interested observers to explain the studies is the best preparation for a student to enter the working world.
Patrick Dean and Nicklaus DeBlois won first place in the exhibit category for their research project, “A Study of Photogrammetry and the Virgin Islands National Park Hassle Island Sugar Plantation Ruins.”
Haley Richardson won first place for her oral presentation on her study of “Classroom Realities: Traditionally and Alternatively Certified Secondary Science Teachers’ Preparedness to Teach Students with Disabilities.”
First place in the poster category went to Shannon Brown for her research project on “Salinity Tolerance of the Oyster Mudworm Polydora websteri.”
Editor’s Note: Haley Richardson is a contributing photographer for The Maine Campus.