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Symposium promotes undergraduate research


The 11th annual Symposium of Undergraduate Research and Public Service (SURPS) covered topics from “The Stanford Robot Zombie Apocalypse Comic Book Series” to “Dark Matter Halo Mass Characterization Using Galaxy Magnitude Variations.” The event took place at the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center on Thursday.

Coinciding with Homecoming Weekend, the symposium was also an opportunity for students to interact with alumni who participated in undergraduate research and attended SURPS.

“I’m interested to see how things are different from what we did while we were here and learn something new,” Carole Franklin Grace ‘77 said, as she browsed the multiple poster boards in McCaw Hall.

Following up on last year’s special 10th anniversary event featuring an alumni panel, SURPS returned to its usual goal this year of “helping students share the outcomes of their project ideas, and helping the broader Stanford community explore how engaging these project experiences can be,” Brian Thomas, associate dean of undergraduate research opportunities, wrote in an email to The Daily.

Caitlin Eggleston ‘13, who is currently working on a preliminary study on comorbid anxiety in depressed adolescents, found the event to be a helpful brainstorming session among peers.

“Sometimes you lose yourself in your own research and when you talk about it with others, people ask you questions and [give you] new ideas for your own thesis,” Eggleston said.

(KATIE BRIGHAM/The Stanford Daily)

For Omar Yaghi ‘14, who presented on using carbon nanotubules in photothermal therapy against tumors, an event like SURPS is standard protocol.

“Presenting is a part of science that every researcher does,” Yaghi said.

Even though Undergraduate Advising and Research (UAR) does not keep a record of attendance, every year several hundred undergraduates and alumni fill up the space, Thomas said.

Part of this regular attendance rate may have to do with effective marketing.

“We do a good deal of outreach through all of our UAR advisors, such as academic directors in the residences and the professional advisors in the AARC and in Sweet Hall,” Thomas said.

Turnout this year matched previous years.

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Catherine Zaw was formerly the Managing Editor of News for Vol. 245 and Vol. 246. To contact her, please email [email protected]