Undergrad Research Symposium Recap

Posted on: August 6, 2019   |   Categories: Announcements, News & Updates
Symposium Group 1

Over 275 students, faculty and industry experts from institutions across South Dakota and the nation gathered in Sioux Falls July 29 – 30 to participate in SD EPSCoR’s sixth annual Undergraduate Research Symposium.

The symposium showcased summer research projects from more than 150 undergraduate students representing South Dakota’s public, private and tribal universities who participated in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) and the Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN) summer research programs. The symposium was first established in 2014 to bring together undergraduate students across the state to gain real-life research experience, strengthen their skill-sets, network and learn more about South Dakota graduate programs.

The event kicked off with STEM industry tours that brought students to some of the largest research-oriented organizations in the state. Tours took place at Alumend, Avera Research, POET, Raven Industries and Sanford Research. After the tours, participants gathered at the Sanford House for a social-mixer.

Morning and afternoon poster sessions on July 30 highlighted summer STEM research conducted by students at 12 public and private institutions across South Dakota. Poster presentations were reviewed and evaluated on technical content, poster appearance and oral presentation by a panel of judges consisting of faculty mentors from each of the universities represented. This year students also joined in to provide feedback to their peers.

“Undergraduate research is the culminating experience in an undergraduate STEM major’s education,” said Dr. Mel Ustad, project director for the SD EPSCoR program. “It’s where they learn to apply what they know from their studies to solve a real-world problem. These problem-solving experiences are also important because they help prepare the students for entering the STEM workforce. The demonstrated ability to apply what a student knows to solving a problem and then communicating that solution is a highly sought-after ability by STEM employers.”

In addition to the morning and afternoon poster sessions,
participants had the opportunity to take in a variety of professional development sessions including Preparing for Life After Graduate School, South Dakota Opportunities in Science and a lunch panel on scientific careers.

SD EPSCoR partnered with BRIN, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation and the South Dakota Biotech Association to organize the event. SD EPSCoR is supported by the National Science Foundation/EPSCoR Award IIA-1355423 and by the State of South Dakota.