Campus News

University of Georgia’s CURO Symposium will be held April 4

Athens, Ga. – Original research and creative works by more than 180 University of Georgia undergraduates will be showcased at the 2011 Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Symposium. The annual day-long event, which is open to the public, will be held on April 4 at The Classic Center in downtown Athens.

UGA buses will be running from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to the Classic Center from stops at Memorial Hall on Sanford Drive and the Georgia Center on Carlton Street.Free parking also is available at the Classic Center for CURO Symposium attendees.

Now in its twelfth year, the CURO Symposium offers participants the opportunity to share their research through oral sessions, poster presentations and thesis roundtables. Student researchers typically work on these projects for at least a year and are mentored by faculty who are leaders in their respective academic disciplines.

UGA marine scientist Samantha Joye will deliver the keynote address, “Doing Science in the Face of a National Emergency,” at 4 p.m. in Athena Ballroom E.Joye has been assessing the impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill that occurred last spring, and has been widely quoted in national and international media coverage of the disaster.

“The CURO Symposium stands alone among research universities in its scope,” said David S. Williams, associate provost and director of UGA’s Honors Program. “It showcases the excellent research and creative work being done by UGA undergraduates across a broad range of disciplines, all over campus.”

For third-year student Matthew Sellers, his past investigation of author Robert Penn Warren, combined with his Washington, D.C. internship experience last summer, brought him to the thesis topic he will present at the CURO Symposium.

Sellers, who is from Perry, is exploring how Warren depicts populism and populist leaders in fiction and comparing those representations to current grassroots political movements such as the Tea Party and Organizing for America. Seller’s research mentor is English professor Hugh Ruppersburg, who also serves as senior associate dean of the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Science.

“Presenting at a symposium offers the opportunity to hear a wide range of critiques about my work, which can only make it better,” said Sellers, who is pursuing a joint bachelor’s and master’s degree in English.

As a participant in the CURO Apprentice program, sophomore JoyEllen Freeman has been involved with the Civil Rights Digital Library under the guidance of her research mentor and English professor Barbara McCaskill, who also serves as co-director of the online archive.

For the symposium, Freeman, who is from Alpharetta and pursuing bachelor’s degrees in English and English education, will be presenting a different project she conducted over the summer. Her current research focuses on the life and music of pianist prodigy Thomas “Blind Tom” Bethune, who was born into slavery in Georgia, in the context of race relations in the 19th century.

McCaskill, who has mentored UGA undergraduates for the past 12 years, said that collaborating with undergraduates has many benefits.

“I think faculty who mentor undergraduates in research activities find the process rewarding because we have an opportunity to work individually with outstanding students,” said McCaskill. “We hone our own skills as scholars by training undergraduate researchers to ask original questions, investigate unique materials, and learn the protocols of examining research collections and collaborating with experts.”

Senior Dillon Horne has been able to explore his academic interests more fully through his research experiences under the guidance of comparative literature professor Thomas Cerbu, his research mentor. As a third-time presenter at the CURO Symposium, Horne will share his examination of the origins of religious thought through the lens of evolutionary biology, epistemology, and law constructs. He is graduating in May with a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature.

“Conducting research at the undergraduate level has been intensely valuable,” said Horne, who is from Loganville. “As a researcher in the humanities, I have the freedom to pursue different avenues of interest that contain methodologies unique to that discipline. With a future in law, I think that a broad perspective will be pragmatic in dealing with issues situated in an increasingly global context.”

The symposium also includes the presentation of CURO’s excellence in undergraduate research mentoring awards. UGA Libraries research awards and best paper awards for student research in the arts, humanities, social sciences, civic responsibility focus, international focus and sciences also will be announced.

Sponsors for the CURO Symposium include UGA’s Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, UGA’s Office of the Vice President for Instruction, UGA’s Office of the Vice President for Research, the UGA Alumni Association and UGA’s Honors Program.

For more information on the 2011 CURO symposium, see