Texas Research Showdown gives students opportunity to show off work

Reagan Ritterbush

The Texas Student Research Showdown provides undergraduate researchers the chance battle in a two-round competition, where students present their results to peers and a panel of judges. 

“This is a great opportunity for students to take what they have accomplished and make it accessible to the rest of UT,” said Jeanette Herman, the assistant dean for academic initiatives and director of the Bridging Disciplines Program in the Office of Undergraduate Research.

The goal of the showdown is to make a general, non-expert audience understand what a student did in their research and why it matters, according to their website.

“I think researchers get tunnel vision, and their research ends up only making sense to them,” said Robert V. Reichle, senior program coordinator in the Office of Undergraduate Research. “It is difficult for them to step back to explain it to everyone else.”

In the first round, students make a two-minute video about their research. Since there are no restrictions on the format, students can talk to the camera or use creative graphics and animations to make the video visually engaging. These videos are then voted on by the UT community and six competitors advance as finalists.

“This showdown is a great way for researchers like myself to raise awareness about common issues in their research,” neuroscience senior Khadija Saifullah said. 

Reichle said the videos should be more than just students relaying research.

“It’s more about a student’s narrative as a human being doing their research,” Reichle said.

Reichle also said it would be valuable for the students submitting videos to go to the showdown’s workshops. These workshops, led by UT professors, help researchers learn how to use iMovie equipment and make their research sound more like a story the audience can understand.

“The workshops teach the students how to structurally set up their videos,” Reichle said. “Students need to be able to accurately present what they’ve done with their research while also making it seem cool.”

According to the Undergraduate Research Center, during the second round, finalists compete by giving six-minute research presentations to a live audience. A faculty panel then awards scholarships to first, second and third place for $1,500, $750 and $250 respectively, based on the merit of their research and communication skills.