UGA CURO symposium showcases undergraduate research on local and state issues

UGA CURO symposium showcases undergraduate research on local and state issues

Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia students will have the opportunity to present their faculty-sponsored research projects at the annual Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO) Symposium April 9 at the Tate Student Center on the UGA campus. Oral and poster presentations, along with visual and performing arts exhibitions, are part of this student-centered event.

“Some of the students will be presenting research that relates to challenges in our own community,” said Pamela Kleiber, associate director of the Honors Program, which houses CURO. “Not only do these projects offer solutions to complex social science and life science issues, but they give the students a chance to learn specific research and critical-writing skills that they can use in their future careers.”

Among the research projects that focus on social issues is Emily Powers’ case study of Atlantic Station, a new mixed-use development at the site of the former Atlantic Steel Mill in mid-town Atlanta. As a CURO summer fellow, she examined how public space is used at Atlantic Station, which is considered a national model for sustainable development and smart growth as residents live, work and play within walking distance.

Powers graduated last fall with honors with a bachelor’s degree in geography, but continued working on this project under the guidance of faculty mentors Steven Holloway, a professor of geography at UGA, and Katharine Hankins, an assistant professor of geography at Georgia State University, so that she could present her results at the CURO symposium. Powers said she feels the experience prepares her for pursuing graduate studies.

“I am currently waiting to hear back from several different geography graduate programs across the nation and I plan on focusing my master’s work in the field of urban geography,” said Powers, who is from Stone Mountain. “I also plan on incorporating film in my graduate and future work, and this project includes a film I made documenting my research.”

“Emily’s work analyzing public space in a new urbanist development has been thoughtful and has pushed her into a new realm of knowledge production,” added Hankins. “I anticipate that her ideas about how a ‘public’ is constituted will make a real contribution to academic literature. Emily has been an absolute pleasure to work with, and I’ve been consistently impressed with her original ideas and confidence as she designed and conducted her research projects.”

Honors student Deep Shah, a junior from Duluth who is pursuing a double major in international affairs and genetics, is currently involved in a project that supports his career aspirations in domestic health policy. Shah, who is also a UGA Foundation Fellow, investigated preventative and preparatory measures for a bioterrorism attack a college town like Athens should take.

Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor Loch Johnson, who also is Regents Professor of Public and International Affairs, said he feels his mentees like Shah are more like colleagues than undergraduates. “Deep is extraordinarily talented and exhibits many of his abilities in this project,” he said. “It has been a privilege for me to guide him a little along the way, but he doesn’t need much help; he can blaze his own trails.”

Shah said that the culmination of the undergraduate research experience at UGA is the CURO symposium. “I think one of the most valuable skills any student can acquire is the ability to present and defend one’s own ideas in front of an educated, critical audience,” he explained. “To me, honing this skill is the greatest opportunity the symposium offers. Dr. Johnson always encourages me to present my research as often as possible.”

One of the highlights of the symposium includes a keynote address, given this year by Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor Conrad Fink, who also holds the Morris Chair of Newspaper Strategy & Management at UGA. He will talk about “The Researcher and the Wide, Wild World of the Internet,” at 4 p.m. in Georgia Hall in the Tate Student Center.

“Nothing is more important in undergraduate education than learning the techniques-the art-of focused, disciplined research in subjects crucial to the betterment of our society,” said Fink. “Our nation’s future depends on the next generation of leaders being inquisitive, discerning and capable of the sound judgment that can come only from self-directed research of the highest order.”

Faculty undergraduate mentoring awards will be presented after the keynote address. Steven Stice, director of UGA’s Regenerative Bioscience Center, and Timothy Hoover, associate head of the microbiology department, will be recognized for their commitment to involve and support students in research at UGA.

The symposium also will feature student artwork that will be on display in the fourth floor rotunda of the Student Learning Center. The artists will give gallery talks about their individual creative works starting at 6:15 p.m.

Awards for the best papers in various disciplines and the best poster will be given to symposium participants at 8 p.m. in the four floor rotunda of the Student Learning Center.

For more information on the CURO symposium and the schedule, visit www.uga.edu/honors/curo.