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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 20, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

IC to sacrifice lecture space for conference

Professors and lecturers will yield their classrooms to student presenters as the college hosts the National Conference On Undergraduate Research from March 31 to April 2.

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Senior Joshua Rivera practices his presentation for the 2011 NCUR. He was one of 213 students from the college whose abstracts were selected. Claudia Pietrzak/The Ithacan

The college was chosen to host more than 2,000 students and faculty mentors from around the country for the 25th annual conference, which will give undergraduate researchers and artists a public forum to present their work and will provide publicity for the college.
College students give presentations that range from speeches to dance performances during the event. Submitted projects are accepted into the conference by a board of professors chosen by the host college, which evaluates project abstracts from within their personal disciplines.
College students nationwide submitted 3,517 research projects — 744 more than the number submitted to the past five conferences — of which 2,919 were accepted.
Carol Henderson, chair of the college’s executive board for NCUR and associate provost for academic policy and administration, said the conference will help showcase the accomplishments of students and faculty at the college.
“We have a lot of great things going on here in undergraduate research and student participation in research projects, but it’s not visible nationally,” she said. “Nationally, our reputation was lagging behind our actual accomplishments.”
When the college submitted their first bid to the NCUR executive board, the not-yet-completed Athletic and Events Center was included as a venue. However, the A&E Center is now scheduled to open next fall.
Jason Miller, chair of the NCUR board of governors, said the proposal from the college included the center in their plans with knowledge of the possibility that it would not be built in time for the conference.
Carl Sgrecci, vice president of finance and administration, said plans for NCUR were made before A&E Center construction bids. The availability of the A&E Center was most likely not a factor.
A total of 96 rooms — including all general-use classrooms from all academic buildings — are reserved for presentations and meetings. The college will not cancel classes. Instead, professors are encouraged to have students attend NCUR activities.
Katharine Kittredge, professor of English, said she will take larger classes to look at relevant NCUR presentations but will hold an alternative meeting in a Terrace lounge with her Advanced Studies in Feminist Science Fiction class.
Miller said the college was chosen to host NCUR because it met the logistical guidelines for the event and promoted student research.
“They’ve got such a strong commitment to undergraduate research and the benefit that it gives to students and support that the faculty has thrown behind the idea,” he said.
The Department of Psychology at the college requires students in the Bachelor of Arts program to take three semesters of research with a professor — an example of the college’s research commitment.
Leigh Ann Vaughn, associate professor of psychology, said she has led a research team for the past seven years that works on projects to submit to multiple conferences, including to NCUR this year.
“My research has never been as good as when I’ve had the opportunity to work with undergraduates,” she said.
In the past, Vaughn said not all students from the college who were accepted to present at the conference could go because of the high registration cost, which begins at $195 for students.
“Traditionally the college pays for students to travel and present at the conference, but we can’t afford to do that for very many students,” she said.
Last year the college sent 18 students to NCUR at the University of Montana, though more were accepted. But with the conference on campus, all 213 students accepted will have the opportunity to present, Henderson said.
Gordon Rowland, professor of strategic communication, said he encouraged students in his research class, Critical Issue in Organization: Theory, Application and Policy, to submit their work to the conference.
Senior Joshua Rivera and his classmates, members of Rowland’s class, will present their paper “Lack of Innovation Hinders Competition,” which examines the many components of organizations that influence innovation. He said the opportunity to present is exciting because it is such a large conference and he can put it on his résumé.
“Having that I was an NCUR presenter on my résumé shows my work ethic and that I work well on a team, I can research and I can write well,” he said.
Vaughn said the conference would provide students with the new experience of having a large body of outsiders see their work.
“[Students] are going to really enjoy seeing their campus and their college in a different way,” she said.