Campus News

Ten undergraduates take part in CURO international symposium

CURO Costa Rica 2011-h.env
Students from UGA and the Universidad de Costa Rica inspect pepper plants while visiting an organic coffee plantation and vegetable farm. Other extracurricular activities included hiking

Ten UGA students traveled to the university’s Costa Rica campus in June to participate in an undergraduate research symposium with students from the Universidad de Costa Rica.

UGA students selected for the trip had previously been involved with the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities as either a CURO summer fellow, a presenter at a CURO symposium or as the recipient of a Best Paper Award at a CURO symposium.

During the symposium, the students presented original research projects and creative works in a range of disciplines, including the life sciences, photography and international affairs.

“The CURO International Symposium combines key elements of an undergraduate education at UGA-research, study abroad and international civic engagement-into one exciting four-day experience for the students,” said David S. Williams, associate provost and director of the Honors Program and CURO, who accompanied the group.

Sustainability activities
The students also participated in activities that focused on sustainability, planting trees as part of UGA Costa Rica’s carbon offset program, and helping create long-term research sites where scientists from UGA and elsewhere can study the effects of climate change.

Calley Mersmann, a Foundation Fellow who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in ecology, served as the facilitator for a National Issues Forum group discussion on water issues.

The students also had the opportunity to explore the campus and surrounding region through extracurricular activities that included hiking, bird watching and a zip line tour through the rainforest canopy. They also visited an organic coffee plantation and vegetable farm.

Rising junior Daniel Smith, a photography major in the Lamar Dodd School of Art, said that the experience helped support the community atmosphere created by the students as they shared ideas and cultures.

Smith, who also is a CURO summer fellow, presented a project entitled, “In the Image of the Artist,” in which he used self-portraiture to explore the theme of how art reflects qualities of its creator. Associate professor of art Michael Marshall is his faculty research mentor.

“As a participant student ­researcher, I’ve learned more than I could have possibly imagined,” said Smith. “The research ­presentations ended up serving more as an invitation to an open forum of discussion. In these discussions I learned a number of things, but more importantly, I made meaningful friendships and connections, which will hopefully continue to enrich my life beyond this trip.”