The 2013 Symposium of Undergraduate Research and Public Service (SURPS) featured 115 student posters in the annual showcase of students’ individual projects held at the Arrillaga Alumni Center.
According to Vivienne Fong M.A. ’95 Ph.D. ’98, the research programs director of Undergraduate Advising and Research (UAR), SURPS asks students to think about how they will share their research and projects with the larger community to inspire peers to partake in the resources available for independent work.
Robert Urstein, director of UAR and dean of freshmen, said he encourages freshmen to attend SURPS to get a broader scope of the areas of study in which they can be involved.
He emphasized the value of SURPS for gaining skills in all fields.
“We want students to appreciate that getting involved in research can help build skills that are valuable past your education,” Urstein said. “These skills can be applied to different career paths and different areas of interest.”
According to Associate Dean of UAR Brian Thomas, SURPS is used as a link between the research students are doing and how the different majors at Stanford support those students and allow them to do research.
“As you are exploring different majors, you should attend SURPS,” Thomas said. “We want students to understand the importance of research and show them that it’s what faculty are doing and it’s what other students are doing.”
The diverse projects presented this year were based in the Natural Sciences, Creative Arts, Public Service, Social Sciences and Humanities and Engineering. Many of the projects were funded by the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education (VPUE) though some received more unconventional forms of funding.
Linta Reji ’14 studied the diversity and abundance of a certain type of gene in the estuary sediments of the San Francisco Bay this past summer.
“I can’t explain how much I learned [this summer],” Reji said. “If I were taking classes instead, I wouldn’t have learned as much. I loved doing the research…I was really sad when it ended, but I’m going to continue working with this project over the next few years.”
Laura Marsh ’15 spent her summer doing research at Chavín de Huantar, an archaeological site in Peru, looking at ceramic origins through thin-section analysis.
According to Marsh, she first went to Chavín two summers ago with an archaeology field school program and wanted to return this past summer in order to work on her own personal research. Marsh’s studies were funded through a Major Grant from UAR.
“There’s a lot that can and should be done with [this data],” Marsh said. “I’d like to go back this summer to take more data and look further into it because now I have a better understanding of how to look for it and how to go about the process of analysis.”
Marsh said she wants to turn her research into an honors thesis in archaeology.
Natalie Griffen ’14’s project stemmed from a personal curiosity and represented work she had started as a rising junior. She spent this past summer studying the process of creating more comfortable high-heeled shoes at the London College of Fashion.
“My research started with an interest in sports shoes,” Griffen said. “Why don’t we have nice shoes that make us feel good? I want to translate the attitude of creating really comfortable sports shoes into creating more formal shoes.”
Griffen received a Chappell Lougee Scholarship when she was a sophomore that allowed her to spend the summer in London studying how to make shoes. This past summer, a Major Grant from the Engineering Department helped her extend her research.
Jessica Savoie ’14 took a distinct research approach by interning with the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“What I ended up doing was working with a lot of immigration detention cases and apprehension cases,” she said. “Basically, my job as an intern was to be the first eyes on a case. I would get a file or a complaint stack [and] would help make decisions about what to do with the case.”
Unlike many other students, Savoie did not get her fellowship through Stanford. Instead, she sent out her resume to various government departments and was contacted by the DHS for an interview.
“It was hard for the University to understand that I got this on my own,” she said. “I had to call them to get proof of enrollment…and the University was reluctant to release that information because it wasn’t through Stanford.”
Savoie did receive an award from Stanford’s Public Policy Summer Internship Funding program that enabled her to present her work at SURPS.
Contact Josee Smith at jsmith11 ‘at’ stanford.edu.