Connecting Through Research
Students share research at largest national conference for undergraduate research
KENNESAW, Ga. (Apr 14, 2019) — Scholars sharing their latest findings, engaging in thought-provoking conversation and forging collegial working relationships may be the norm for faculty researchers, but at Kennesaw State students were the ones presenting their research and sharing ideas with peers at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR).
KSU is the first school in Georgia to host the conference, which is the largest interdisciplinary event of its kind in the country. The school welcomed nearly 4,000 undergraduate student researchers from 45 states and internationally, including close to 800 students from 33 Georgia colleges and universities, 400 of whom were from KSU. The conference was the largest in NCUR’s more than 30-year history.
“Kennesaw State is committed to providing and expanding research opportunities for our students that provide them with innovative ways of learning that transcend the classroom,” said KSU President Pamela Whitten. “As an R2 (research) university, KSU is committed to discovering solutions that can be applied immediately to real-world challenges. As a student-centric university, it is vital that our undergraduates participate in this mission in ways that both enrich their educational experience and enable them to make discoveries to improve the lives of others.”
Many students in attendance noted the interdisciplinary nature of NCUR as something unique from other conferences that they’ve attended. Liam Wood, a senior from Auburn University, said that being at NCUR gave him the opportunity to learn about other disciplines and to hear about research that is totally different from what he studies.
"I'm in engineering and sometimes you get confined to seeing the world through your own window. NCUR has given me the opportunity to see beyond that," he said. “I’ve particularly enjoyed some of the social science presentations.”
In addition to the exposure to other types of research, Johanna Mercurio, a student from the University of Georgia, and Khaila Miles-Semons from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, said that they were excited to connect and exchange ideas with other students who have similar or related research interests.
Environmental technology and management major Duncan Anderson, a junior at North Carolina State, agreed. “This has been an excellent opportunity to see where my research crosses over to social science research, and that’s very interesting to me.”
For students like Matthew Simpson, a Kennesaw State junior majoring in psychology, NCUR was the first research conference he has ever attended. Simpson presented his research on how neuron function in the brain can impact political choices and views.
"I have loved the entire process, of researching this subject, analyzing my results and presenting it today, “he said. “I like seeing the students from all the other universities presenting their research. It's been amazing from start to finish, very hands-on. "
Along with presenting their research, NCUR participants took part in workshops and graduate school and career fairs. The conference also featured three plenary speakers: Alistair Dove, Georgia Aquarium’s vice president for research and conservation; Valerie Montgomery Rice, president and dean of Morehouse School of Medicine; and K.C. Martin, Lockheed Martin’s principal program manager of mobility plans and roadmaps for advanced development programs.
Kennesaw State was chosen in April 2016 to host NCUR. Since then KSU conference co-organizers Amy Buddie, director of undergraduate research, and Chris Cornelison, associate director of undergraduate research, have led students, faculty and staff in event plans and coordination.
“I am so happy that NCUR 2019 was a huge success,” said Buddie. “It was a wonderful opportunity for our students to engage, explore and experience research and creative scholarship at the national level in our own backyard.”
Cornelison added, “We have received so much positive feedback about the conference and could not have organized an event of this size or caliber without the tireless efforts of our hard-working volunteers, faculty and staff. We really appreciate how the campus and community came together to get us NCUR-ready and deliver an outstanding event.”
More than 1,000 Kennesaw State students, faculty and staff members volunteered to help with the conference. One of them was sophomore history major Camilla Stegall, who both presented and volunteered at NCUR.
“This is the biggest thing to happen at KSU since I’ve been here, so I wanted to make the most of it and be a part of it,” Stegall said. “It’s been great!”
Kennesaw State established a couple of firsts for the conference. This year was the first NCUR to have an arts competition. Also, in an environmentally friendly move that saved an estimated 800,000 pieces of paper, the conference’s schedule and other key information were provided exclusively as a downloadable app.
According to Iain Crawford, the president of the Council on Undergraduate Research, the conference was a sucess. For his part, on behalf of CUR he thanked KSU for the remarkable Southern hospitality it had shown both during its October and April visits and throughout the conference itself. It had, he said, been a truly remarkable event.
The 2019 NCUR perhaps was best summed up by presenter Tessa Walker, a music education major at Kennesaw State.
“Being a part of this conference and sharing our research really validates our love for what we do and lets us know that other people care about it too,” Walker said.
NCUR 2019 by the numbers
3,914 student presenters
383 institutions represented
33 Georgia colleges and universities represented
383 Kennesaw State students presented research
1,033 volunteers (as of day 1)
9,646 meals served to participants
3,333 attendees for the three plenary speakers
6,017 downloads and log-ins of the NCUR mobile app
4,405 unique devices were connected to the NCUR wireless network and used 2,420 gigabytes of data during the conference
For a look inside NCUR, check out the NCUR 2019 at Kennesaw State Live Blog.
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.