Campus News

CURO symposium provides forum for undergraduate researchers, mentors

This semester freshman Courtney Thomas is searching through local newspapers and newsreels for stories on the civil rights movement in Albany. Senior Alicia Higginbotham spent her summer studying the Iliad translations of British writer, actor and poet Christopher Logue. Both students have one goal in mind: present their research at the spring symposium sponsored by UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Thomas, a CURO apprentice and Honors student, and Higginbotham, a CURO summer Fellow, are among a growing number of UGA students who engage in research projects guided by faculty mentors. Although CURO oversees some of these opportunities, it is the annual symposium that brings together students from all disciplines and from other universities to share project results, artwork or performances with a wider audience.

While CURO is housed in the Honors Program, research is not limited to those enrolled as Honors students.

“Undergraduates like Alicia Higginbotham, who have a stellar GPA but may not be in the Honors Program, can also have the benefits of conducting Honors research, writing a thesis and presenting at the annual symposium,” says Pamela Kleiber, associate director of CURO and the Honors Program. “CURO encourages academically motivated students to engage in the full experience of ­conducting and analyzing research then sharing their findings with various audiences in written and oral formats.”

Thomas interviewed with a few potential faculty mentors before signing up to work with English professor Barbara McCaskill on the Civil Rights Digital Library Initiative, scanning for items in newspapers and newsreels on historical figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Ella Baker. She is part of a team of faculty, secondary teachers and librarians from around Georgia developing Web-based educational content.

“The CURO program is very important because it gives students the opportunity to gain confidence as researchers by presenting their work at the annual spring conference and by facilitating their individualized guidance and instruction from faculty mentors,” says McCaskill, who has been involved with CURO since 2001. “I have also gotten to know fabulous students and have had the privilege of watching them grow intellectually from the first year of college to graduation.”

Higginbotham became interested in Christopher Logue’s writings when completing a paper in Thomas ­Cerbu’s comparative literature class last year. Cerbu recommended that she apply for the CURO summer research fellowship. With CURO’s help, she was able to expand her exploration of Logue, who has been translating the Iliad since 1959 and who includes references to current events. Higginbotham will visit Logue in London during the winter break with financial support from the English and comparative literature ­departments.

Faculty from all disciplines are encouraged to invite their students to submit an application and abstract to present at the CURO symposium, which will be held April 10-11 at the Tate Student Center. Submissions will be taken through Jan. 13 and will be reviewed by graduate students with faculty guidance. Students and faculty mentors chosen to participate will be notified by mid-February.