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Spring Undergraduate Research Forum showcases Elon scholarship

Work by Elon University students and professors took center stage Wednesday in the opening hours of SURF 2011 with a new morning format for the annual event that recognizes faculty and undergraduate research. Twenty-two professors took part in third annual "Celebration of Faculty Scholarship" in McKinnon Hall, where they shared work in a poster presentation side-by-side with students who had been accepted to display findings of their own endeavors.

Chemistry professor Victoria Moore shares her work with fellow chemistry professor Gene Grimley during the 2011 SURF program on April 27.

The annual Spring Undergraduate Research Forum on April 27 spotlighted work from students who made presentations about their scholarship in academic disciplines as diverse as computing science, biology, psychology, communications and economics.

Three poster sessions for students took place at the same time as presentations made in various buildings across campus.

“It’s great to see what’s going on here on campus and the opportunities students have for research,” said Elon senior Elizabeth Cooper, an exercise science major from Fayetteville, N.C., whose undergraduate research for SURF has helped prepare her for graduate school at East Carolina University. “Elon makes this an opportunity for every student if they want it, and it’s a complement to your in-class learning.”

Other students said their research experience has assisted them in their job hunt. Elon senior Andrew Garrison, an economics major from Aberdeen, N.C., found that working with assistant professor Mark Kurt gave him software skills that prospective employers have asked about during interviews.

Faculty and students presented their research during a joint poster forum in McKinnon Hall. The faculty posters were new for 2011.

“This has been a really good experience,” Garrison said. “You get a lot more out of working one-on-one with a mentor than you do just by going to class.”

Each April since 1993, Elon suspends classes for a day to highlight the undergraduate research efforts of its students. The day is part of CELEBRATE! 2011, a weeklong series of activities to recognize student achievement in academics and the arts.

Faculty members lauded the change to their part of the program. In 2009 and 2010, professors made short presentations on their work in isolated classrooms around campus. The introduction of the faculty poster session afforded Elon’s educators an opportunity to view all of the work being shared at SURF by their colleagues.

“We have faculty and students coming together to present their research, and they can move around in a very informal way,” said associate professor Honglin Xiao in the Department of History and Geography.

Daniel Shulman, a student in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, shared findings with classmates and professors on the profitability of small-market baseball teams.

Said associate professor Cindy Fair, chair of the Department of Human Service Studies: “In previous years you had to choose (which colleagues) you were going to see and then if you saw that person you couldn’t see anyone else, and I’m looking around, seeing a lot of familiar faces and people who are interested in what I’m doing, and I’m interested in what they’re doing.

“It’s a wonderful addition to SURF.”

Eric Townsend,
4/27/2011 2:07 PM