Voting underway for student research competition

Estefania Espinosa

Fifteen undergraduate researchers are competing for a $1,500 scholarship as part of the Texas Student Research Showdown, a presentation competition for UT students created by the UT Office of Undergraduate Research.

To enter, they submitted a two-minute video about their work. Students will vote to determine the top six, who will move on to the second round, in which the finalists will give six-minute presentations to a live audience and judging panel Nov. 12.

Robert Reichle, senior program coordinator for the academic initiatives department of the School of Undergraduate Studies, said he came up with the idea for the competition when he realized there are not enough outlets for students to share research at UT.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Reichle said. “We have a pretty healthy number [of participants].” 

Social work senior Chelsea Jones did a qualitative analysis on the deaths of unarmed citizens by police officers. Jones said she was initially reluctant to enter the competition because of the nature of her research but decided it was important to raise awareness in the UT community.

“Police brutality is a topic that is sensitive and emotional, but we can’t opt out of talking about it,” Jones said. “I wanted to show the power of community members to take action into their own hands and be innovative to solve social issues.”

Jones said since she entered the competition, students and faculty have shown their support.

“People truly care about the issues that are affecting our country, even though they may not always be vocal,” Jones said.

Undergraduate studies sophomore Jack Murray submitted a video about his research on Alzheimer’s disease and said the project taught him how to present his research in a different way.

“I learned how to express something complicated in the simplest terms possible,” Murray said. “You can’t just use the most complicated jargon with people who just want to hear the main facts.”

Nursing junior Nicole Gloris said her mother’s poor nutritional habits after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis inspired her to research the relationship between the illness and diet. Gloris said after uploading the video to Facebook, people affected by multiple sclerosis have told her how much impact her video had.

“Even an individual who hadn’t ever been to a dietitian or nutritionist that is now going to go — that’s what it’s all about,” Gloris said. “Advancing in this competition isn’t the goal of my research. It’s to better these individuals’ lives.”

Voting continues through Oct. 21, and the final round is scheduled for Nov. 12.