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Students show off their research at Denman Undergraduate Research Forum

The Denman Research Forum provides graduating seniors a chance to present their research. Credit: Laura Smith | For The Lantern

The Denman Undergraduate Research Forum gave graduating seniors an opportunity to share their research with the general public on Wednesday in Pomerene Hall.

For 24 years, the Denman has been an event for undergraduate researchers to present the fruits of their labor and have it assessed by judges.

In order to participate, students doing research in any discipline must have results of their research to showcase at the time of application and should try to make their research more accessible to the general public, Mikafui Dzotsi, a program assistant at the Denman, said.

Emma Waight, a fourth-year in biology and creative writing, said she was excited to share her research with other people, because she had spent so much time working on it.

“I’ve put a lot of hours and a lot of time and a lot of brainpower into this research,” Waight said. “It’s nice to be able to actually share it with people and to talk about it with people instead of just muttering to myself about significant differences in RNAs while I’m hunched over QPCR machine in the lab all alone at 7:00 at night.”

While the forum used to be open to all undergraduate researchers, Dzotsi said that this year only 200 graduating seniors were chosen to participate due to too many presenters last year compared to the number of judges.

Waight said she personally experienced the problem of having an excess of participants last year.

“Last year they ran out of judges, and they asked the rest of us to stick around. There were like six, half a dozen of us left over after the session was technically over,” Waight said. Students are judged largely based on their ability to explain their research in a way that can easily be understood by people outside their field, and interdisciplinary research is seen as a bonus, Dzotsi said.

“A lot of the time students are usually only judged by people in their specific area, but this year we wanted to make it more interdisciplinary to encourage discussions between different students,” Dzotsi said.

Dzotsi said she hopes that this will be an opportunity for students to see whether they enjoy their field of research, as well as improve their communication skills for giving presentations. She also wants students to have conversations about their research with their peers as well as the faculty and staff in attendance.

For other students like Sara Gryboski, a fourth-year in linguistics, it’s an opportunity to prepare for her future careers.

“It’s almost like a professional development day for me, being able to both work on my public speaking skills, being able to be surrounded by my peers who are also doing cool projects,” Gryboski said. “This is kind of like a stepping stone for further research.”

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