Undergraduate students showcase their work during ninth annual Research Week

Rachel Lew

Undergraduate students from diverse fields of study are showcasing their work and exploring ways to participate in research during the University’s ninth annual Research Week.

Research Week began Monday and will go through this Friday, and features a variety of events including exhibitions, performances and workshops all focused on undergraduate research, according to the Undergraduate Studies website. Groups from various disciplines across campus will table at Longhorn Research Bazaar from 12–2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20 at the Union Ballroom. 

Psychology professor Zenzi Griffin, director of the Cognition and Communication Lab, said she thinks Research Week provides an opportunity to share the lab’s work with others.

“We will have three posters from the lab at the Research Bazaar,” Griffin said. “Research Week serves as an important reminder of how much students contribute to the world-class research that we associate with faculty.” 

The Cognition and Communication Lab focuses on speech and is comprised of students from the departments of psychology, communications sciences and disorders, and linguistics. Griffin said the lab studies how experiences affect the words and sentences people choose to use.

Griffin said she thinks some of the most significant learning occurs when students get involved in projects outside the classroom.

“Students who simply attend classes are missing out on what the University has to offer both intellectually, but also in terms of developing professional skills,” Griffin said.

John Parsons, research assistant at the SoundBrain lab, said he thinks it is important to see how individual research fits within the larger framework. Parsons said SoundBrain Lab is interested in the neurobiological processes behind speech perception and learning.

“Research Week is an excellent opportunity to … learn what other labs and disciplines are doing,” Parsons said. “To have the opportunity to speak directly to those involved in research — in one place, no less — allows a more interactive experience that ultimately serves students a more comprehensive understanding of the work being done.”

In addition to Longhorn Research Bazaar and guest speakers, Research Week features poster presentations by undergraduate students. Student Engineering Council and Engineering Student Services collaborated to create a poster exhibition on engineering research, in which 70 undergraduate students presented posters while 100 graduate students and faculty members served as judges.

Kristin Astrachan, chemical engineering junior and director of academic affairs in Student Engineering Council, said the exhibition provides an opportunity for students to display their research and gain feedback from graduate students who do not specialize in their specific field of study.

“A lot of times, the challenge is selling your research to those who don’t have the same technical background as you,” Astrachan said. “This is a technical audience, but not every graduate student is an expert in each field of research being presented.”

Civil engineering sophomore Arqa Mast said she thinks Research Week symbolizes the collaborative knowledge of scholars from different disciplines.

“I decided to get involved in Research Week because I wanted to participate in this rich exchange of ideas, which occurs when presenters present their ideas to the general audience, and that leads to stimulating conversations,” Mast said.