UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | January 27, 2023

DSU to host undergraduate research conference in February

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Dixie State University is set to host the ninth annual Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research. 

As the host university of the February 2015 conference, it is expected that there will be a high level of participation by DSU students.

The first step of becoming involved in the conference is for students to identify whom their mentor will be, biology professor Curt Walker said. 

It’s a lot like applying for graduate school; students interested in submitting abstracts or doing undergraduate research should first find a mentor, Walker said.

Any full- or part-time lecture adviser can be a mentor, English associate professor Stephen Armstrong said.  Any faculty on the undergraduate research committee can also be a mentor.

“Without a mentor, you aren’t getting accepted,” Walker said. “Students need to know how to write an abstract, and that’s not something they are born knowing how to do.”

Once an abstract has been submitted students need to consult with their mentor about strategies for preparing their presentations, Armstrong said. Students will revise their writing, collect data, draw conclusion, design posters and attend training workshops co-hosted by the DSU URC and DSU writing center. 

The training workshops will be offered in October. The first workshop will be held on Oct. 9 in Holland Room 471 at noon. The second workshop will be held on Oct. 30 in Holland Room 325 at noon. 

Students needs to make sure that they are well prepared to present, Armstrong said. 

“Practice, practice, practice in front of an audience, fielding questions – the more challenging the questions, the better,” Armstrong said. “Students planning to give oral and performance-driven presentations should practice with a timer, making sure their deliveries come in under ten minutes.”

A call for abstracts was made on Sept. 15. If students want to submit an abstract, they must do so before Nov. 16. 

“Last year we received 71 abstract submissions,” education assistant professor Nancy Hauck said. “This year we expect to receive 200. With the conference being held at DSU,  we hope to have about 100 DSU students present there.”

The conference was held at Brigham Young University last year, Walker said. There were a lot of BYU students there because of the convenience. It will be the same way with DSU students this year.

“As a teaching institution, our focus isn’t emphatically on what the teachers can do in terms of research, but rather what the students can do,” Armstrong said.

DSU hosting the UCUR means students from all over the state will be at DSU, said Christine Arlotti, undergraduate research events coordinator. 

“We are encouraging not only students to attend, but the community as well,” Arlotti said. “It will give everyone a chance to see all of the exciting things happening at DSU.”

Holding the conference at DSU allows the university to show colleagues throughout the university system that DSU has a viable undergraduate research program, Armstrong said.

“By hosting the conference, we demonstrate that Dixie has grown and matured, and that the climate here is absolutely supportive of the students as they conduct their research pursuits,” Armstrong said.

Science majors generally don’t have a problem getting involved because science is obviously research, Hauck said. Encouraging other majors to recognize that their field of study includes research is important. 

“We especially hope to get those students who don’t think their major fits into undergraduate research interested, including teaching, business and nursing,” Hauck said. “It is important that we help them to apply their research to their occupation because really every field is based on research.”

Raschelle Davis, a senior elementary education major from South Jordan, is currently working on a research project for the conference, Hauck said.

Davis said she heard about research day just four or five days before the abstracts were to be submitted. The undergraduate research program at DSU needs to be advertised more, she said.

“I am researching the misconceptions that students have about space,” said Davis. “I was enrolled in the NASA Grant Program last semester with Dr. Hauck and started noticing that a lot of students don’t have the correct information about space… I was becoming really interested in what I was learning, and then I heard about research day.”

Students who would like to find more information on the conference can go to dixie.edu/UCUR.