Students to showcase research in virtual symposium, compete for a cash prize

The presentation of the winner of the 2020 annual undergraduate symposium. The research study was done by Caroline Nitirahardjo for the biological science field and focused on the association between mosquito spread and neurodegenerative diseases. 

Morgan Boyd Reporter

Instead of creating poster boards and setting up at the Student Center, students will present their research projects virtually as part of the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium later this semester.  

Scheduled for April 19-31, this remote opportunity allows all students, no matter their class standing or majors, the chance to showcase their research funded by Kent State and potentially win a prize. 

Ann Gosky, director of research and sponsored programs at Kent State, said she orchestrated the symposium during Undergraduate Research Week in hopes of celebrating students’ continuous work to further their research.  

“The symposium is an opportunity to showcase a variety of research from fashion to art to physics and biological sciences and every subject in between,” Gosky said. 

Due to COVID-19, last year’s symposium was rushed into an online event that quickly prompted students to transition their research into PowerPoint presentations that could be posted on a site for judges to see.

This year, Gosky has formatted the symposium as an entirely virtual event ahead of time to accommodate safety guidelines and to give participants enough time to create their PowerPoint presentations, write their abstracts and present their research. 

Despite changing up how the event is held, Gosky feels COVID-19 has disrupted the level of participation in the event. 

“Luckily we are able to host the symposium on Zoom, though typically there are over 400 students presenting; this year there are only about 200 students due to the fact the symposium is over Zoom,” Gosky said. 

To participate in the symposium, students were required to submit their abstract before Feb. 15. After submitting their abstracts, students will participate in Zoom workshops from Jan. 15-March 18 where they will be taught how to develop their presentations, the best ways to present their research and how to improve their abstracts.    

“The whole idea of the workshops is to help then develop the skills they need to present their research and make it the best experience possible,” Gosky said. 

The symposium will then consist of the students showcasing their presentations over Zoom to the judges. The student groups within a particular field will present on specific days to their corresponding judges. The judges, who are made up of volunteers, faculty and professors, will judge student groups within their field of expertise. 

“This year, there will be about 100 judges,” Gosky said. “With each group of students, there will be between two to three judges as well as a moderator in case there are any technical issues.”  

In addition to showcasing their research, students are able to compete for a cash prize of up to $200, as well as ask judges from their field any questions they may have including what feedback they have for their presentation. 

Even with the COVID-19 restrictions, Gosky said she is happy the virtual event will allow students to showcase their research and receive recognition for their hard work, though part of her misses the chance for students to present their work in person. 

“It was always something wonderful about seeing 400 students showcase their research in the Student Center,” Gosky said. “Other students as well as parents would come in and be able to view the amazing work the students have generated.”

Morgan Boyd covers research. Contact her at [email protected]