By Matty Hume, December 19 2018 —
From Nov. 27–29, the University of Calgary Students’ Union hosted the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS), with a plethora of changes to the structure of the event. Changes include an extended timeline for the event itself, the addition of oral presentations and physical models, as well as various research workshops. This year’s URS featured 22 research categories, compared to 16 in previous iterations.
According to SU vice-president academic Jessica Revington, the SU is pleased with this year’s symposium.
“This is by far the most successful iteration of the event,” she said. “We are still looking at the numbers for students [and] campus community members that were passing through all the different workshops and symposium and the gala, but we know for a fact that donation wise, participation wise and engagement wise, this is the most successful URS to date.”
Revington said this success shows largely in the number of applications received and the breadth of faculties included, compared to previous years.
“We had at least one application from every single faculty, which is huge. We were also able to accept at least one application from every single faculty,” Revington said. “To us, that tells us that the message and the mandate of URS is striking a tone with students. Research is more than science research [or] medical research, it’s present in all faculties on campus.”
The SU awarded a record $30,500 to the winners at this year’s event, including two $1,000 prizes for the Faculty of Arts.
One of the two arts winners is Elizabet Rajchel, a third-year drama major who cites the uniqueness of a project in a largely scientific atmosphere as a factor that drew attention to her presentation — and as incentive for the SU to further promote the inclusion of arts at the URS.
“I think promoting it to arts would be really great,” Rajchel said. “I walked around the symposium and it was mostly sciences, which is great to see, but everyone would stop by mine and say, ‘Yours is so different! There’s no graphs! What’s it about?’ ”
Rajchel’s project centred on the historical treatment of women in theatre, from the restoration era to the present. She said she plans on continuing the research to help promote women’s voices on and off the stage.
“I did a basic history analysis and I did a historical play analysis, then I looked through articles and magazines about #MeToo, Equity in Theatre and all these movements that are promoting women’s voices in theatre and traced if anything has changed,” she said. “I found that only recently the conversation has gained momentum for change.”
Rajchel said that future arts students considering URS applications should allow themselves to be confident that their research will find an audience.
“I went in thinking it’s all going to be science students. [Arts students] write papers, our safe zone is papers, so I’d say don’t be afraid to at least submit your research because it’s very important to get it out there no matter what it may be,” Rajchel said. “Don’t be afraid that it’s just going to be a bunch of science projects because your research is just as important.”
According to Revington, the SU will preserve all the changes implemented at this year’s URS.
“We want a couple more years with this current setup to what feedback students have for us, to see if it continues to grow as more members of the campus community learn about the changes that have happened to URS,” Revington said. “There’s always room to improve with URS, and this iteration is one of many steps URS is taking to become a full-fledged research conference.”
A full list of 2018 URS winners and prizing is available at su.ucalgary.ca.