Campus News

UGA’s 2012 CURO Symposium highlights undergraduate research endeavors

Athens, Ga. – The Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities at the University of Georgia will host its spring undergraduate research symposium on April 2 at The Classic Center in downtown Athens. The event, which is open to the public, will feature students’ original research and creative works produced under the guidance of faculty mentors.

More than 190 students will present and discuss their research findings through concurrent oral presentations from 9:05 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. in Athena Rooms A-J or a poster session from 5-6 p.m. in Grand Ballroom-South at The Classic Center.

Charles Bullock, the Richard B. Russell Professor of Political Science at UGA, will deliver the keynote address “A Prospective Look at the 2012 Elections” at 4 p.m. in Ballroom E. Known for his expertise in legislative and Southern politics, Bullock was named among the “100 Most Influential Georgians” in 2011 and 2012 by Georgia Trend magazine. He also holds the title of Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, UGA’s highest honor for teaching excellence at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Symposium attendees can use the UGA bus service that will run 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 also will be provided at The Classic Center.

The CURO Symposium is the cumulative event for undergraduates who have partnered with faculty members in their academic fields of interest for a yearlong research project. Since 1999, the CURO Symposium has provided a public space in which the students can share their project ideas and results with their peers, the UGA research community and others.

“The CURO Symposium has become the premier undergraduate academic event at UGA,” said David S. Williams, associate provost and director of UGA’s Honors Program. “One of its great strengths is that from its inception, the CURO Symposium has showcased research and scholarship in all disciplines. The 2012 Symposium evidences UGA’s broad and substantial support of research and the invaluable commitment of UGA’s administration and faculty to mentoring and providing exceptional learning opportunities for our undergraduates.”

For student presenters like sophomore Anisha Hegde of Snellville and junior Elena James of Suwanee, the CURO Symposium provides the real-world context for applying skills developed throughout the research process.

Hegde, who is interested in public health from medical and policy perspectives, will present a proposal focused on promoting the health benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child through a peer-counseling program at area hospitals. UGA foods and nutrition professor Alex Kojo Anderson is Hegde’s faculty mentor.

“The process leading up to the symposium is really rewarding,” said Hegde, who is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in genetics and comparative literature. “Getting feedback from distinguished faculty and interviewing medical professionals in Athens definitely taught me a lot. Dr. Anderson was always available to help point out holes in my policy and then to direct me to resources that would help fill in those holes.”

For the last three years, James has been focused on identifying the proteins responsible for the uptake of vitamin B12, an essential part of the diet for Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. Russell Karls, an infectious diseases professor in UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine, is her research faculty mentor.

“Presenting at the symposium not only allows you to develop your communication skills as a researcher, but also gives you insight into the ‘hot topics’ and the research being done within each discipline,” said James, a CURO Honors Scholar who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology.

Undergraduate research also has influenced Bryn Murphy as she prepares for a career in environmental and international law. She will graduate in May with bachelor’s degrees in international affairs, Spanish and environmental social science (Honors interdisciplinary studies).

“Conducting research has given me the opportunity to get to know some amazing professors one-on-one and to travel abroad as a researcher in Peru and a research assistant in Indonesia,” said Murphy, who is from Suwanee. “Presenting at the CURO Symposium has pushed me to develop my public-speaking skills and to learn to communicate my work to an audience outside my discipline.”

Murphy’s symposium project will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of structuring international river treaties in various ways that would prevent conflict between nations and natural resource crises. Her faculty mentors are anthropology professor Peter Brosius and Jeffrey Berejikian, Meigs Professor of International Affairs at UGA.

For more information about the 2012 CURO Symposium, see