Campus News

Research showcase

Undergraduates share projects at 12th annual CURO Symposium

Original research and creative works by more than 180 UGA 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 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 for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel on Carlton Street. Free parking is also available at the Classic Center for CURO symposium attendees.

Now in its 12th 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 one 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,” in Athena Ballroom E at 4 p.m. 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 the Honors Program. “It showcases the excellent research and creative work being done by UGA undergraduates across a 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 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 UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Science.

“Presenting at a symposium offers the opportunity to hear a 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 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.”

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