Elon students present at the Integrating Research in Science conference for STEM undergraduates

The conference, called Integrating Research in Science (IRIS), was held at Wake Forest University on Saturday, April 20, with nearly 70 attendees from more than 10 different nearby colleges and universities attending.

Elon students recently attended and presented at the regional STEM undergraduate conference Integrating Research in Science hosted by Wake Forest University on Saturday, April 20.

Integrating Research in Science (IRIS), an innovative student-led conference, aims to celebrate interdisciplinary interactions by bringing together the realms of STEM and STEM-related fields. This one-day conference for undergraduates is designed to allow students to promote their research, network among professors and peers and prepare for their academic and professional careers by attending expert panels.

By participating in IRIS, students engage in a collaborative environment that harbors values in creating a strong sense of community. Moreover, by bringing many departments and students with different interests together, students will explore new ideas within a diverse range of fields and be able to delve into the rich progress cross-disciplinary interactions have to offer.

Students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University give a poster presentation.

IRIS was initially developed in 2017 and was held at Wake Forest University until spring 2023 when Elon hosted the event for the first time . The conference returned to Wake Forest this spring.

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Hwayeon Ryu served as a co-mentor for the Student Organizing Committee including Danielle DaSilva ’24 with her faculty partner at Wake Forest University. At this year’s IRIS, there were nearly 70 attendees from more than 10 different nearby colleges/universities and almost 30 oral or poster presentations were given.

“Participating in IRIS provided me the opportunity to practice communicating my research to an interdisciplinary audience and learn about the research projects of my peers. I enjoyed being able to hear from the graduate school panel about what continuing education looks like in different disciplines,” said Bailey Reutinger ’25, who gave an oral presentation on her project mentored by Assistant Professor of Statistics Nic Bussberg.

Max Shilling ’24 gives a poster presentation on his research work.

“I enjoyed that the IRIS conference brought together research from different subjects to learn more about,” said Max Shilling ’24, who is majoring in biochemistry and gave a poster presentation from his work with Professor of Chemistry Joel Karty.

This year’s keynote talk was “Adventures in Mathmagic Land: An Overview of my Experiences and Lessons Learned in Conducting Interdisciplinary Research” given by Nicholas Luke, professor of mathematics at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. The keynote talk was followed by oral and poster presentations, and the conference concluded with the panel session for both academia and industry.

“My favorite part of attending IRIS was hearing the questions about my research from students studying other STEM fields. I also found the graduate school and career panelists to have helpful perspectives on the kind of interdisciplinary kind of work I would like to do in my own career one day,” said Jillian Thomas ’25, who is majoring in applied mathematics and is mentored by Professor of Mathematics Karen Yokley.

IRIS Wake Forest Student Organizing Committee with Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Hwayeon Ryu (far right)

In spring 2025, IRIS will be held at Elon with the goal of alternating hosting of the conference between Elon and Wake Forest. The goal is to establish an even broader partnership between the two institutions and develop a STEM community in nearby regions.

The IRIS 2024 conference at Wake Forest University is supported by NSF DMS-2151990.