Experiencing research: Undergraduates set to present findings at annual CURO Symposium

Record number of students presenting research

Sydney-Alyce Bourget CURO lab-v

March 30, 2017

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Martin Rogers

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  • magnify Sydney-Alyce Bourget CURO lab-v

    Sydney-Alyce Bourget, a third-year ecology major, focuses much of her research on invasive plant species. Last summer, she completed a research internship looking at garlic mustard's spread into Harvard Forest.
    Photo credit: Melissa Campbell

  • magnify Sydney-Alyce Bourget CURO portrait-v

    Sydney-Alyce Bourget, a third-year ecology major, focuses much of her research on invasive plant species. Last summer, she completed a research internship looking at garlic mustard's spread into Harvard Forest.
    Photo credit: Melissa Campbell

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Athens, Ga. - From spectator injuries at baseball games to invasive garlic mustard plants in forested areas, more than 550 University of Georgia undergraduates are gearing up to share their research findings at the annual CURO Symposium April 3-4 at the Classic Center in downtown Athens.

The 554 participants-presenting either as individuals and/or groups-mark a new high for the event hosted by the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities and eclipse last year's record-breaking total by 146 students.

The volume of undergraduates isn't the only number of note. This year marks the first that non-Honors Program students make up more than half of participants with 53 percent of the total.

CURO, administered by the Honors Program, was expanded to all undergraduates in 2010.

"It has been a great pleasure to observe the overall growth in student participation in the CURO Symposium over the past several years, especially with regard to non-Honors students," said David S. Williams, associate provost and director of the Honors Program. "Undergraduate research is a high-impact educational practice with a number of positive benefits that flow to both students and faculty members. UGA is proud to be a national leader in this area through CURO."

The Symposium opens April 3 at 11:15 a.m. and includes 224 presentations and 290 posters.

Michael Terns, Distinguished Research Professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences' biochemistry and molecular biology department, will deliver the keynote address on "CRISPR: From Basic Biology to Genome Editing Revolution" at 3:30 p.m. in Ballroom E. The poster session and reception will follow at 4:30 p.m.

Oral presentations will continue April 4 at 9:30 a.m. with the last session ending at 4:45 p.m.

"One reason the CURO Symposium has grown every year is that our faculty members understand the professional and personal growth that occurs when their students engage in this type of learning," said Martin Rogers, associate director of the Honors Program and CURO. "Many students describe their CURO research as having a transformational effect on their education, and that experience pays dividends for our students as they enter the next steps in their professional and academic careers."

The annual Symposium gives UGA students the opportunity to present their projects to faculty, graduate students and peers. It is open to all undergraduates pursuing faculty-mentored research in any discipline.

Sydney-Alyce Bourget, a junior majoring in ecology, traveled to Massachusetts last summer to study garlic mustard, an invasive plant thriving at the edges of Harvard Forest. This is her second year presenting at the CURO Symposium.

"I've always had the desire to learn and investigate things, and UGA definitely solidified my passion for doing research and for learning," she said. "That's what I love about research-the desire to learn and to find out and understand what's happening in the world."

Zack Flagel, a junior majoring in economics, is currently in his second semester studying abroad at the London School of Economics. He is returning to the U.S. during his spring break to present a legal analysis of spectator injury risk at Major League Baseball games.

"Almost everyone has been to a baseball game, but not many think of the legal consequences of getting hit by a foul ball," he said. "Doing legal research as an undergrad, especially before legal training, is difficult and unheard of. The structured system for undergraduate research at UGA has made it easier. The professors are here to help you."

The annual CURO Symposium is sponsored by the Office of the President, the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, the Office of Instruction, the Office of Research, the UGA Libraries and the Honors Program.

A UGA bus marked "Special" will provide transportation to the Classic Center, with stops at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education, Tate Student Center and the Arch.

As well as its annual Symposium, CURO offers coursework, support staff and information sessions on how to begin conducting research. In addition to $3,000 summer fellowship grants, students can apply for the CURO Research Assistantship, which provides $1,000 stipends to 500 undergraduates each year. Research through CURO fulfills the university's newly implemented experiential learning requirement.

For more information, visit curo.uga.edu/symposium.



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