Undergrads shine at SoCon research forum and share insights

Posted on November 16, 2022

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UNCG represents the university at the SoCon Undergraduate Research Forum. From left to right: Dr. Lee Phillips, Ata Artun Erdogan, Theresa Cole, Catherine Ricci, Shafaq Ahmed, Amarre Reid, Logan Brown, Marcos Tapia, and Brendan Diaz; Photo credit: Micki Roddy

Presenting research for the first time at a conference is an anticipated rite of passage for many undergraduate scholars. It’s an opportunity to share new knowledge with the academic community, hone public speaking chops, and connect with other researchers.

This fall, eight UNCG students represented the university at the SoCon Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF). Six of these students presented research posters, while two students gave oral presentations. Scholars presented on a variety of topics based on their growing research expertise, from organic chemistry to psychology.

Communicating research to colleagues for the first time can be intimidating, so we reached out to these scholars for an inside scoop about their experience. Read more about the perspectives of four conference attendees, who are all seniors at UNCG.

Amarre Reid

Majors: Psychology and political science
From: Raleigh, NC
Research Mentor: Dr. Dayna Touron, Department of Psychology

A woman stands next to her research poster at a conference.
Amarre Reid, a double major in psychology and political science, presents her research poster at the SoCon research forum.

Research focus: “The focus of my research is to study how older adults’ work participation and engagement in everyday social, physical, and mental activities can influence how old they feel and their perceptions of successful aging.”

Why research? “I think a lot of people are curious and have a lot of questions about the world around them and I think research is the way to answer those questions.”

Conference highlight: “The best part for me was getting to hear what interesting research ideas other students with similar interest as me created. After spending so much time focusing on my own research question it was fascinating to hear what other people are working on.”

Nutshell: “This opportunity definitely opened my eyes to how much we can learn from each other and showed me the fun in presenting my work to a larger audience!”

Hot tip: “Remember that nearly all the other students are just as nervous as you. It can be really nerve-racking to present your research in front of so many people for the first time, but it helps to calm me down to think I am not the only nervous one and it’s just a natural human reaction.”

Logan Brown

Major: Biochemistry
From: Clayton, NC
Research Mentor: Dr. Mitchell P. Croatt, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

A man stands next to his research poster at a conference.
Logan Brown, a biochemistry major, presents his research at the SoCon research forum.

Research focus: “My research is focused on bridging a knowledge gap in an important step of a chemical reaction. We do this to allow other synthetic chemists to utilize this reaction more effectively when they are creating their molecules.”

Why research? “Research meant finding a community to belong in. Here, I have met people who are just as passionate about science as I am and work hard every day in the lab. Sharing a lecture with someone is one thing, but working alongside them in the research lab is another thing entirely.”

Conference highlight: “The intimacy of the poster session. Presenting a poster one-on-one with other people allows you to communicate your research with another person and really tell them what you have been working on.”

Benefits to the research process: “I met with a couple organic chemistry professors that gave me insight into my work. I talked with them about my current difficulties, and they offered up interesting solutions.”

Hot tip: “Don’t worry about people not coming up to your poster, because they will come up and speak to you. And practice, practice, practice giving your poster talk.”

Catherine Ricci

Major: Speech pathology & audiology major
From: Durham, North Carolina
Research Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Coffman, Department of Human Development and Family Studies 

A woman in an orange sweater stands next to her research poster at a conference.
Catherine Ricci, a speech pathology & audiology major, presents her research at the SoCon research forum.

Research focus: “Exploring how aspects of children’s everyday lived experiences support the development of skills/strategies they use for remembering.”

Why research? “Being a part of a research lab in the human development and family studies department has given me the opportunity to explore multiple interests that I have. Being a part of this lab has opened many doors for me throughout my undergraduate career.”

Conference highlight: “My favorite part of SURF was that I got to meet new people and learn about their passions. No matter the subject, I found all of the presentations I listened to very intriguing.”

A learning experience: “I found the biology and chemistry presentations at the conference to be really interesting. Listening to students in this field talk about their research was interesting because I know so little about those subjects.”

Hot tip: “One tip I would give is to really take the whole experience in. It goes by fast and may be a little nerve wracking, but engaging with new people and learning about their research is a great opportunity.”

Ata Artun Erdogan

Major: Kinesiology
From: Istanbul, Turkey
Research Mentor: Dr. Kyoung Shin Park and Dr. Jennifer Etnier in the Department of Kinesiology

A man stands next to his research poster in professional clothing.
Ata Artun Erdogan, a kinesiology major, presents his research poster at the SoCon research forum.

Research focus: “My research is focused on exercise science. I am currently working on observing the effects of acute aerobic exercise and its function to chronotype.”

Why research? “Research has been very important to me in understanding delayed gratification in life. I started my research position about a year ago and just now started to see the fruits and it has been amazing.”

Conference highlight: “My favorite part has to be presenting my poster. Leading up to it, I was really excited and slightly nervous. The first person who came up to me asked me questions for about 10 minutes non stop.”

Nutshell: “Being around so many intelligent people with all kinds of research has been a very eye-opening experience for me. I cannot wait to attend more events like this.”

Hot tip: “Don’t stress it too much and you are probably overthinking it right now.”

Story compiled by: Rachel Damiani


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