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UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 11 | Sep. 5 , 2002

Research Conference First of its Kind Here

Cash prize for best student presentations

By Hilary Thomson

Helping students learn through discovery is the aim of UBC's first multidisciplinary undergraduate research conference to be held Sept. 27 and 28 at the Forest Sciences Centre.

"While textbook learning has a place in education, there is no substitute for hands-on experience trying to answer real questions about the unknown," says Botany Prof. Iain Taylor, a member of the conference organizing committee. "These projects are of a very high standard and we expect most of them will be published or performed for the larger community."

One of only a few such conferences held in Canada, the event demonstrates how research-based learning experiences can be integrated into the undergraduate curriculum - a key strategy in Trek 2000, the university's vision statement.

Almost 80 students and recent graduates from faculties across campus will present an original research poster or oral presentation. All projects are student-driven and will be presented to an estimated audience of 200 including a panel of graduate students serving as judges. Winning entrants will receive a cash prize.

"Being asked probing questions about my work, and improving my work was a key reason I got involved with the conference," says Julie Gibson. "I also wanted to experience the breadth of research being done here - the ideas produced by a wide range of students was a real draw."

Keynote speakers include: Christine Chambers, an assistant professor of Pediatrics, who will discuss Pain in Child Health: Lessons Learned as an Undergraduate Researcher; English Assoc. Prof. Sian Echard who will speak on Versions of Chaucer for Children in the 19th and 20th centuries; and Aneil Agwral who will discuss how his UBC undergraduate experience supports his graduate student career at Indiana State University.

Student projects range from a presentation and interpretation of Massenet's opera Manon to a comparison of the role human dignity plays within Canadian and German constitutions. Other projects include a study to improve airport security, and a presentation called Scribe in the Labyrinth: Minoan and Egyptian Hieroglyphs in the Bronze Age, that examines the early connections between Minoan Crete and Egypt.

Each participating student secured a sponsor within their department to support their work. Also, a team of facilitators that includes faculty and grad students has been guiding students through all aspects of conference participation.

"One of our goals for this conference is to support students so that the experience is a positive one," says Pharmaceutical Sciences Instructor Ingrid Price, conference co-ordinator. "We also wanted students to have a broad exposure to other disciplines and see opportunities for collaborative research."

A recent orientation meeting included a workshop where students helped each other refine their abstracts. Additional lunchtime workshops will be held this month and support is also being offered via e-mail.

The conference is free of charge, however, registration is required. For information, e-mail linda.napoleone@ubc.ca.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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