Nearly 70 undergraduate students displayed their research, scholarly, and artistic works throughout the day on Thursday, August 31 at the University of Saskatchewan’s (USask) Convocation Hall. The purpose of the symposium was to give undergraduate students the opportunity to share projects undertaken in the past year.
Elisabeth Bauman, the vice-president of academic affairs for the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union (USSU), lauded the hard work of the students on display.
“I feel a lot of awe and respect for the kind of research being done, and I love to see how we can all work together to make a better society,” Bauman said. “It's a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of study … huge respect for the work they’ve done.”
The symposium is hosted by the Research Acceleration and Strategic Initiatives (RASI), a unit in the Office of the Vice-President Research (OVPR), and is supported by the OVPR, the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (CGPS), USask Career Services, and RBC Future Launch.
The participating students are judged by various faculty members and graduate-level researchers for the opportunity to win awards at the end of the symposium.
Dr. Catherine Niu (PhD) with USask’s College of Engineering was one of the judges at the SURE symposium. She said the level of work on display from the undergraduate students was extremely promising.
“I saw some students who spent four months or more on their projects,” Niu said. “I would say it’s impressive … they’re future innovators, they’re our future researchers.”
Work on display covered a wide variety of research areas, from students in numerous colleges throughout USask. Presentations covered health sciences, engineering, computer science, physics, fine arts and more — exemplifying work from across the university campus.
Dr. Amin Zamiri, (PhD), who recently successfully completed his PhD defence in the field of chemical engineering at USask, said he was impressed to see the level of research coming from undergraduate students.
As someone who recently completed their degree studies, Zamiri said the SURE symposium is a valuable opportunity for young researchers to gain experience.
“When I was an undergraduate student, I didn’t have this chance to present my work in an environment like this,” he said. “It can definitely help undergraduate students with their research in the future.”
Ariel Tirado, a fifth-year chemistry student at USask, was the recipient of the CGPS Communications Award and the OVPR Promising Future Scholar Award given out at the end of the symposium. Tirado’s research focused on developing and refining a variant of infrared spectroscopy – a technique used to “fingerprint” chemical compounds – to make the process more sensitive and specific for identifying chemicals.
Tirado thanked his supervisor Dr. Ian Burgess (PhD) in the College of Arts and Science’s Department of Chemistry for his support and noted that while he didn’t enter the symposium to win awards, it was nonetheless exciting to know people found his work compelling.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “It’s about having something to show the world … the fact that I had people looking and saying, ‘that’s interesting’, it’s way more enough. I like having my work recognized in that manner.”