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Showcase for Future Problem Solvers

Undergraduate research symposium is a showcase for tomorrow’s problem solvers

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May 20, 2010 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- If you think of research as a graduate student endeavor, think again.

More than 150 undergraduate researchers will be on hand at Northwestern University's Undergraduate Research Symposium Monday, May 24. Free and open to the public, the event runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, Evanston.

They will read from or perform their creative work or present research on topics ranging from street art to the nucleosome position in the malaria parasite and just about everything in between.

And to further prove the point that serious research is not just a project for graduate students and academics, the symposium once again involves the Meaningful Science Consortium, a project of Northwestern's School of Education and Social Policy and Chicago Public Schools. Some 150 Chicago public high school pupils and their science research projects also are part of the symposium.

"If you want to see what will happen in the future," visit the Undergraduate Research Symposium and meet the people who will make the future happen," said Peter Civetta, Northwestern's Undergraduate Research Grant Program coordinator.

Senior Karina Walker, for example, conducted ethnographic research in Bolivia while doing study abroad. Later, with support from an undergraduate research grant, she returned to Bolivia to conduct interviews with homeless youth and service providers trying to help them.

"I learned how to listen," said the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in anthropology and international studies.

To understand social issues, she also learned that to consider the perspectives of all actors involved in a situation -- the marginalized population, the service providers, the government and even the international community. "My research experience changed my worldview and how I look at the world," she said.

"Translating facts and ideas into practice is messy and difficult," said Civetta, "but it's an important part of what students discover when they engage in in-depth research. He views the annual research symposium as "a glimpse into the future of our world."

For a schedule of events or for more information about the 2010 Undergrad Research Symposium, which is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, visit http://www.northwestern.edu/provost/students/research-symposium/.