Campus News

A culture of inquiry

More than 100 students gather here for CURO Symposium

More than 100 students from UGA and other institutions in the state will make presentations at the annual Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Symposium on April 12-13 at the Tate Student Center. Visual and performing arts exhibitions will be included in the symposium, which is free and open to the public.

CURO, a part of the Honors Program, fosters undergraduate research overseen by faculty. The symposium is one way students learn from one another, by discussing their research and sharing their creative and scholarly works with an outside audience. Students from UGA will be joined by students from Georgia College and State University, Georgia State University, Georgia Southern University and the Medical College of Georgia.

Judy Meyer, Distinguished Research Professor of Ecology, is the featured speaker for the symposium. She will speak on April 12 at 4 p.m. in Georgia Hall. Her talk is entitled “A Stream Runs through It: Ecological Insights on Water.”

Since joining UGA in 1977, Meyer has studied a variety of issues, ranging from river and stream food webs to riparian buffer designations for Georgia’s trout streams. She was named a national Clean Water Act Hero for her contributions to protecting and restoring America’s rivers, lakes, wetlands and coastal waters.

Katherine Sheriff, a third-year student in political science at UGA, will make two symposium ­presentations about her research experiences. After interning at the Georgia General Assembly, she worked with public relations professor Ruth Ann Weaver Lariscy to study negative campaigning in the 2002 Georgia elections. She then examined water policy issues in Georgia with political science professor Charles Bullock.

Gehres Pascal, a third-year student in biochemistry, has been conducting research in cell biology and organic chemistry since her freshman year, but this is her first time presenting at the CURO symposium. She investigated 12th-century medical practices and cures in conjunction with contemporary biomedical research. “We must break the confines of structured and traditional education, work outside the classroom and be able to convey our ideas so that others may benefit from our experiences as well,” she says. “CURO makes all these things possible and so we are fortunate to have this experience right at our fingertips.”

The symposium includes concurrent presentations of student research, poster sessions and a student art exhibition. Among the poster presentations is Christopher Hughes’s experimental wireless art project in which Internet users can “draw” or “tag” virtual graffiti on areas of downtown Athens, using a handheld device within a wireless area. The fifth-year digital media major has been a CURO summer research fellow and was recently accepted into the Summer Research Program in Mathematics and Visualization at UGA.

” ‘Creating a culture of undergraduate inquiry’ is a new maxim we adopted to not only reinforce our mission, but also show our track record and continued commitment,” says Pamela Kleiber, CURO coordinator and an associate director of the Honors Program. “We are grateful to all the people involved in the symposium and are pleased that UGA students are increasingly seizing such ­research opportunities.”

An awards ceremony for best papers in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, international focus and this year’s newest category-civic responsibility focus-will be held on April 13 at 4:30 p.m. in Georgia Hall. The Joshua Laerm Undergraduate Award will be given by the Georgia Museum of Natural History and the Graduate Assistant Awards will be presented by the Graduate School.

William Kisaalita, an associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering, will receive the Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award. Kisaalita is part of a research team working on nanoscale biosensors to monitor blood sugar levels of diabetics.

“My biggest personal growth during my teaching and research career at UGA has been the gradual realization that my effectiveness as a teacher is multiplied several fold when teaching is integrated in everything I do as a faculty member,” he says.

A reception for current and past CURO apprentices and their mentors will be held on the first day of the symposium.

Noramco, Inc., a pharmaceutical company with an Athens facility, the UGA Research Foundation, the Honors Program and the local chapter of the Association for Women in Science will again sponsor the 2004 symposium. Technology for the symposium was provided by several UGA colleges.

Six students participating in CURO also will attend the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis in mid-April. More than a thousand undergraduates from around the United States present their research at this annual event.