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Graduate students and undergrads to showcase their work


By Dateline staff

We see them coming and going, to lectures and labs and the library — and next week we get to see what UC Davis students have been learning and researching, when graduate and professional students and undergraduates present their work in two public forums. Both are free.

Interdisciplinary Graduate and Professional Student Symposium — Opening Thursday night, April 26, with a poster session, and continuing Friday and Saturday, April 27 and 28, with oral presentations, artwork, performances, student-organized panels and workshops.

Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference — This 23nd annual event starts Friday, April 27, with poster presentations and an art exhibition, and continues Saturday, April 28, with oral presentations.

Interdisciplinary Graduate and Professional Student Symposium

This annual event is more than a showcase of student work. Indeed, the goals include fostering interdisciplinary interactions and collaborations among UC Davis graduate and professional students, and availing them of resources for mentorships and work-life balance, as well as diversity and cross-campus connections.

Formerly called the Interdisciplinary Graduate Symposium, the organizers introduced a new name and an expanded program last year, and cash prizes that include the following:

  • Best oral presentation — $5,000 from the Office of the Chancellor
  • Best student-organized session — $2,500 from the Office of the Provost
  • Best poster — $1,000 from the Office of Research
  • Best art-performance — $1,000 from the Office of Graduate Studies

All events take place at the Activities and Recreation Center.

The opening night dinner is sold out, but everyone is welcome to take in the poster presentation that follows, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

The rest of the schedule:

  • Oral presentations — 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m. Friday, April 27
  • Artwork — 5:15-6 p.m. Friday, April 27
  • Performances — 6-8:30 p.m. Friday, April 27
  • Student-organized panels — 9 a.m.-11:45 a.m. Saturday, April 28
  • Workshops — noon-1 p.m. Saturday, April 28

See the detailed schedule.

Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference

Research isn’t just for grad students. Indeed, UC Davis prides itself on undergraduate research opportunities — and demonstrates the results at this conference every year.

New this year is an art exhibition, allowing students in the creative arts the opportunity to present their work alongside traditional research projects.

Participating students are exposed to intellectual investigation at the highest level, by working with faculty mentors.

“We’ve always prepared and inspired our students to discover solutions to some of society’s most pressing problems,” said Patricia Turner, vice provost for Undergraduate Education. “The Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference gives our students a chance to exhibit the fruits of their research along with a taste of the process of presenting it in a scholarly manner.”

The conference will reflect the rich variety of student interests.

Gabrielle Baker, a senior majoring in international relations, worked under the guidance of Keith Watenpaugh, associate professor of religious studies, trying to understand the denial of genocide in Darfur.

“Writing this research paper has affected my understanding of international issues and has influenced my plans for my future career and continued education,” Baker said.

Gunitika Dandona, a sophomore in biological sciences, worked with Aldrin Gomes, assistant professor in the Department of Neurology, Psychology and Behavior, studying the effects of aspirin in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

“The best way to learn science is by doing science,” Gomes said. “Having undergraduate students doing research adds to the diversity and dynamic atmosphere of the lab. It is a pleasure to see the students’ gradual transition towards independence and the confidence that the students develop from doing the research.”

Photo: Nguyen in red dress

Nguyen models 'Afflicted Solace.'

The creative side of the conference includes such participants as  Minh-Chau Nguyen, a junior design major. In showing "the real objects" of creation, Nguyen and other designers have "an excellent yet rare opportunity ... to communicate with audiences," said lecturer Adele Zhang, Nguyen's mentor.

Nguyen's project communicates what her father experienced in having a heart attack, and the related emotions within her family. She does this with a dress, "Afflicted Solace," created as part of the national Red Dress project, which aims to raise awareness of women's heart health.

"In order to portray the human heart as a complex organ and its physical process, I used interconnected seams for structural support and cords covered in dark red fabric to express collapsed arteries during a heart attack," Nguyen wrote in her abstract. "For emotional pain, I extended the cords to symbolize intensified blood flow from adrenaline during mental shock."

Read more about the Department of Design's participation in the Red Dress project.

The conference schedule:

  • Poster presentations — 3-5:30 p.m. Friday, April 27, Freeborn Hall
  • Art exhibition — 5:30-7 p.m. Friday, April 27, MU II, Memorial Union
  • Oral presentations — 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 28, Wellman Hall

No registration required. More information is available online. Questions? Send them by e-mail to urc@ucdavis.edu.

Kim Reinking, student affairs officer, Undergraduate Student Services, College of Engineering, contributed to this report.

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