The Candor

BenU Students Present at the URSA Conference

by Saimah Shareef, Staff Writer

Samantha Jones presents her poster to students in the Krasa Fireside Lounge on April 2, 2013.
Photo by Becca Flynn

The URSA (Undergraduate Research Scholarship & Arts) conference took place in Krasa on Tuesday, April 2nd from 12:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Having the opportunity to work either individually or in groups, students give 12 minute talks and poster presentations on research projects, community projects, or projects in the arts that they are interested in and have done research on.

The conference is technically open to anybody, but it is mostly for BenU students, staff, faculty and some parents who attend the talks and poster session.  This year there were 20 students giving talks and 15 students creating poster presentations.

Students, dressed-up and looking professional, filed into the Krasa A, B, C areas for their individual presentations. The URSA conference started two years ago in the Spring of 2011 with the goal of encouraging more undergraduate students to do research.  The College of Science has a tradition of getting undergraduates involved in research, but URSA is an attempt to expand this undergraduate research experience to students in other colleges, and this includes “the arts,” which is why “and Arts” is also included in the conference name.

Dr. Thomas Wangler, Assistant to the Provost for University Academic Assessment Coordination, has been a big part in organizing and implementing the URSA conference here at Benedictine University.

“I organized the URSA conference last year and am doing so again this year.  I get help from Jennie Kamieniecki in the CTLE and many other support staff as well as faculty members who help mainly by being faculty sponsors for the student presenters, but also help in many others ways as well.  I basically oversee a small army of able and willing helpers who come together to make this event possible.  There’s no way I could do this all by myself!” explained Wangler.

As each student is required to have a faculty sponsor who mentored them throughout their project, there is great involvement from school staff in the conference as well.

Although there is no official connection between URSA and ACCA (Associated Colleges of the Chicago Area), the URSA conference helps prepare students for ACCA. ACCA is a similar symposium that allows students to present and discuss their work with other colleagues in an academic setting. With that in mind, Dr. Wangler tries to schedule URSA about a week or two before ACCA so that students who plan to give a presentation at the ACCA Student Symposium can use the URSA conference as a “dry run”. This year the 46th annual ACCA student symposium will take place on Saturday, April 13th at Elmhurst College.