Undergraduate Research Conference returns to Butler for the 33rd year

Butler holds conference for students across the region. Photo by Paige Horsley.

ERIKA KOVACH | STAFF REPORTER | ekovach@butler.edu 

Butler’s Undergraduate Research Conference, URC, allowed students of all years across each of Butler’s six colleges to present research explored through coursework or independent study. In his address on the event program, President James Danko said that Butler also welcomed 300 undergraduate students from 13 other universities and institutions. 

“We are well on our way to re-establishing the Butler URC to one of the largest interdisciplinary undergraduate research conferences in the country,” he wrote in his presidential statement. 

This year, the URC included two 90-minute poster presentation sessions and two different oral presentation sessions. Oral presentations, which lasted 15-minutes each, ran concurrently across campus in various buildings including Dugan Hall and Levinson Family Hall. Presentations covered a variety of subjects including anthropology and classics, art and music, astrophysics and astronomy, biology, English and more. 

Sophomore English major Mya Tran gave a presentation titled “Tourist Culture Sucks and So Does Running Away From Your Dark Past,” in which she analyzed the short story “Wish You Were Here” by Nadia Bulkin. 

“For an assignment in class, [we were] instructed to pick a short story out of the anthology ‘People of Colo(u)r Destroy,’ and write an analysis paper on it,” Tran said. “I picked ‘Wish You Were Here’ because it was the first one in the anthology, and [I connected] with the story a lot. I felt like I was able to understand it really well and really easily.” 

Tran said that prior to her Text and Ideas course, she had not heard much about the URC. However, she felt it was a good opportunity for research presentation and growth. 

Via Sarjent, a sophomore music industry studies and classics double major, also had the opportunity to present research at the conference. 

Their topic, “Medusa as an Icon of Feminism,” developed through work on their honors thesis and discussion with their mentor, Lynne Kvapil. 

They said Kvapil has been the main reason for their participation in the conference, and continuing with the research process in general. 

One of the biggest challenges for Sarjent was translating their research paper into a presentation with time constraints. 

“It’s been a long process,” Sarjent said. “It has been taking something that’s 30 pages and always growing, and trying to condense it into 10 minutes. It’s not possible. So it was looking between the different things I focused on in my paper, and then choosing the one that stood out to me.” 

Sarjent said presenting a project about an interesting character, as well as one with symbolism that is still relevant today, has been very rewarding. 

“I want people to be able to look at why this character has become so important to people,” Sarjent said. “Medusa’s [popular] these days. It’s very much due to a male gaze, and how when she has given that symbol for female empowerment, [it’s] the male gaze that is used.” 

Many students were encouraged to attend presentations throughout the day by professors and staff. First-year psychology major Maddie Stine said that she went to presentations for course assignments, as well as to see her friends present research. 

“I think it’s cool that students have this opportunity,” Stine said. “It seems really accessible, and I love that they’re able to discuss niche interests and topics.” 

The URC returns annually for students to present on their work and interests throughout each year, or learn something new from peers. Students can contact Director of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, Dr. Anne Wilson, if interested in future opportunities. 


Related posts