Butler hosts the 29th annual Undergraduate Research Conference

Photo courtesy of Butler URC website. 


The Undergraduate Research Conference includes 828 registrants who will present their research on April 7.

The URC’s theme is “Civic Engagement: Agency and Advocacy for Empowering Communities.” The students can present research on any topic, but the theme sets a focus for presentations. Butler students along with students from 58 other universities across 12 different states will be represented on Friday.

Dacia Charlesworth, director of undergraduate research and prestigious scholarships, will run the event along with the Center for High Achievement and Scholarly Engagement Office.

“The URC, now in its 29th year, was originally devised as a place for students, very undergraduate scholars, to come and deliver their results of their project in a safe, warm atmosphere,” Charlesworth said.

Butler students could register for free to present at the URC in an academic setting with other undergraduates. Students from any major or year can participate.

“Now, we have everything from art history to sustainability,” Charlesworth said. “It’s just a nice, safe place for young scholars to come share what they’ve done, receive feedback, and answer questions about it. Most importantly, [the URC allows students] to be around like-minded individuals who share the passion of conducting undergraduate research.”

It is Charlesworth’s second year leading the URC event. She instituted a new competitive paper division where students submit research papers for review by faculty across the nation. Twenty-one papers were submitted and reviewed by professors who conducted interdisciplinary research.

Of the 21 papers, Butler students wrote 11. The top four competitive papers are written by Butler students: Kelsey McDougall, John Anderton, Taylor Pearson and Viki Tomanov. The students earn a cash prize for their top-reviewed papers and present their research at the URC.

Tomanov, sophomore secondary education and English major, wrote her paper on Tau Kappa Epsilon recruitment videos and hegemonic masculinity. She took Charlesworth’s HN 300 class, Gender as Performance. She spent half of the semester working on her 15-page research paper.

“My actual project is really just the tip of the iceberg for the amount of work I actually have to do for it,” Tomanov said. “We started with a seed of an idea, and it morphed into something else for a lot of people. It was really neat because a lot of the people in my class are presenting or a top-placing division winner.”

Tomanov spent more than two hours practicing for her 10 minute presentation with other classmates. She will present and learn her placement on Friday.

“I think it’s a very significant research project that can change the perspectives of a lot of people,” she said. “That’s why I really liked doing it because I felt like what I was doing was worth it and it had some type of greater significance than writing a research paper of regurgitated facts.”

Jason Lantzer, assistant director of the university honors program and honors instructor, recognized the URC’s growth.

“That’s a reflection of not only here at Butler of our commitment to promoting the culture of undergraduate research, but also reflected nationally with many more universities, colleges and programs stressing undergraduate research,” Lantzer said.
Many honors students participate in the URC because of their required honors thesis research project. Students must present their thesis somewhere on campus, whether at the URC or another event on campus.

“There are both departments and professors that definitely stress the importance of undergraduate research,” Lantzer said.

Another new element of the URC is an inclusive session, a meeting attended by all participants, conducted by Steve Hunt from Illinois State University. Registrants will receive remarks from Hunt and can ask questions after his presentation, “Making The Case for Civic Education in a Post-Truth Era.”

The URC includes oral and poster presentations after Hunt’s opening session. Butler students can attend any sessions and presentations for free on April 7. View the program and specific schedule on the URC’s website.