This weekend, University of New England in Biddeford is hosting the largest annual undergraduate research conference in the region, with 180 students from 38 different colleges and universities descending on the school for two days of forums and workshops.
According to an event announcement by host UNE, at the Northeast Undergraduate Research Development Symposium (NURDS — no, I’m not making that up), students are preparing to share their research in the natural and social sciences, in disciplines such as ecology, evolution, genetics/molecular biology, psychology, oceanography, marine biology, physics, medical biology, and chemistry.
The keynote speaker will be Dr. Michael Grace from the Florida Institute of Technology, who will discuss infrared vision in pit vipers and pythons.
Here’s a comment by Markus Frederich, an associate professor of marine sciences at UNE and the one principally responsible for pinning down the National Science Foundation grant funding the conference:
At UNE, our students are encouraged to pursue active research as part of their academic education. The NURDS conference models a real scientific conference with talks and poster sessions, moderators and even hands-on workshops. The students become real scientists, presenting their work, which often is truly innovative science, in front of their peers. The funding from the National Science Foundation allows us to make this a larger regional event, and some universities are sending their students for the fourth year to present at NURDS.
And here’s a statement from UNE senior Casey Toombs, a medical biology student, who has twice before presented at NURDS:
By presenting my research in front of other undergraduates at NURDS, I have gained very useful feedback to help me prepare for my Honors thesis. I am also better prepared to speak about my research in front of important doctors and professors for medical school interviews to achieve my goal of becoming a physician.