• UWA to host Penn State researcher for annual Undergraduate Research Symposium March 11

    Posted: February 21, 2014

    Author: Sydney Meeks

    The College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of West Alabama will host its annual Undergraduate Research Symposium on Tuesday, March 11 at UWA’s Student Union Building from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    This year’s Undergraduate Research Symposium takes on a different format than in previous years. In addition to the presentation of undergraduate research, the symposium will feature a keynote speaker, Pennsylvania State Professor Marilyn J. Roossinck, who is also a Sir Walter Murdoch adjunct professor at Murdoch University in Australia.

    Roossinck will deliver the keynote of the symposium entitled “How Microbes Can Help Feed the World.” The session will provide the audience with a perspective on how the unseen microbes present in the environment can have an essential role in feeding the world.

    Roossinck is one of the world-leading scientists in the area of plant virology and has more than 100 publications in scientific journals and has presented her research finding to enormous scientific and public communities worldwide.

    The Undergraduate Research Symposium offers UWA students an opportunity to present their research and creative projects to the public. Undergraduates from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and some other disciplines may present their current and recent academic projects, showcasing the diversity of topics, approaches and interests.

    “The Undergraduate Research Symposium is a great event for the students to showcase their research to fellow students and the community,” explained Dr. Mustafa Morsy, assistant professor of biological and environmental science. “I have attended and presented at many local, national and international meetings. However, the UWA Undergraduate Research Symposium has become my favorite meeting and something of which I’m proud to be involved.”

    The event also serves as a resource for undergraduates not yet engaged in research. These students can learn how their peers developed their intellectual interests, current projects, and faculty or community connections. The Undergraduate Research Symposium is a portal through which students, faculty, staff, prospective students, and alumni can witness the manner in which student projects enhance faculty work and also serve the greater community.

    “Numerous expert panels have recommended expanding research experiences for students at the introductory levels of science to ensure student excel in their education,” Morsy said. “I’ve personally witnessed those students involved in research projects improve within their academic performance and grades. I believe that the research component is indispensable in education of our future teachers, scientist and workforce.”

    Dr. John McCall and Dr. Ketia Shumaker agree that the Symposium has helped to instill a passion for research in undergraduate students studying the sciences at UWA.

    “Since the first Undergraduate Research Symposium at UWA in 2012, we have seen a dramatic increase in student interest and involvement in research,” said McCall, professor of biological and environmental sciences. “We believe that there are few activities that bring greater benefit to our students. Truth be told, the increase in student research has had a significant positive impact on our faculty as well.”

    Shumaker, associate professor of biological and environmental sciences, said that she’s confident in the work that UWA students have done thus far, and that their work shows much promise for such early careers in biology.

    “This is an opportunity for our students to showcase their scientific research findings and hard work that they developed through working with UWA faculty researchers as a guide/mentor,” she said. “Thus, I believe that the judges and viewers of the URS will be highly impressed with the high level of research capabilities and accomplishments that are coming from UWA.”

    Students participating in the Undergraduate Research Symposium are eager to present their research to the public.

    “As a freshman at UWA, I am very excited that I will have the opportunity to present my first professional research presentation at the Undergraduate Research Symposium,” said Fhallon Ware-Gilmore. “I have enjoyed doing authentic research and being part of the Small World Initiative program to discover new antibiotic from soil bacteria. I am so excited that I will be able to tell my fellow students and professors about my research and what we are doing. I am so thankful to have had this opportunity to work with such a diverse and intelligent group of people.”

    For more information on UWA’s Undergraduate Research Symposium, contact Dr. Mustafa Morsy at 205-652-5541 or mmorsy@uwa.edu.


    Picture: The 2013 Undergraduate Research Symposium participants, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics faculty and special guests. 

    UWA’s Undergraduate Research Symposium Schedule
    Public Viewing Session 1 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
    Lunch 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
    Group Picture 1:00 p.m.
    Judging 1:10 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
    Public Viewing Session 1 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    Graduate School Exhibition 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
    Organizing Committee Remarks 6:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
    Keynote Speaker 6:15 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
    Awards Ceremony 7:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. 

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