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Reformed URS opens applications for 2018 event

By Ashar Memon, October 3 2018 —

Applications are now open for the Students’ Union Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS). The annual event showcases research completed by undergraduate students at the University of Calgary. This year, the URS returns with substantial reforms.

The URS will now allow students to deliver oral presentations or present physical models, whereas in previous years their only choice was to present a poster. The event will now also include various research workshops, extending its previous single-day timeframe to three days.

In previous years, faculty members have raised concerns about various aspects of the symposium, including the issue of a poster being the only method for presentation. SU vice-president academic Jessica Revington said she hopes changes to the URS address these issues.

“By adding different types of presentations, we hope that students are able to apply and present in a way that accurately reflects the work that they’ve done over the summer or over the past year in research,” she said.

Several faculties also vocalized that the timing of the event excludes many of their students from participating, while others complained about the emphasis on the scientific method.

“Generally, our research is very problem-focused and less about the traditional methodologies where one would state a hypothesis and having control groups and being able to do a lot of that measurement,” said Haskayne School of Business associate dean Sherry Weaver in a previous interview with the Gauntlet. “A lot of times, it’s a single business and it’s solving problems.”

Traditionally, the Cumming School of Medicine and the Faculty of Science were overrepresented at the URS, drawing 57 and 47 applications in 2017, respectively, compared to a total of 32 applications from other faculties.

Revington said that this year, the composition of the working group that chooses the participants for the symposium accounts for diversity in student research.

“We’ll hopefully be able to put forward a selection of students that accurately represent the research that’s being done in different faculties across campus,” she said.

According to the SU, about $25,000 has been raised for the symposium so far, a similar figure to the amount raised last year. One notable change, however, is that the Graduate Students’ Association will reinstate its $1,500 sponsorship of the event, after withdrawing it two years ago.

“We’re just really excited about the changes that we’ve made. We know that we’ve had feedback from students for years and years on the format of the URS,” Revington said. “We really hope that the changes that we’ve made this year will be able to reflect some of the issues that students have addressed in the past.”

The Undergraduate Research Symposium will be held in MacEwan Hall on November 27–29 and applications can be found here. The deadline to apply is Oct. 12.

Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly listed the number of applications received by the URS in 2017. This error has since been corrected. The Gauntlet apologizes to its readers for this error.

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