Undergraduate Research Symposium

By Mercy Lamola

Undergraduates at the University of Calgary have been given a unique opportunity to showcase their hard work and research at the sixth annual Undergraduate Research Symposium.

On Nov. 24, 130 students from many different faculties presented a wide range of research topics.

According to Students’ Union vice-president academic Ola Mohajer, this interdisciplinary event brings students together and gives them a chance to reach their academic goals.

“At a lot of universities, it’s not as common for undergraduates to be able to reach the calibre of research that the students here are able to,” said Mohajer. “So, it would only be natural that someone recognizes that, and it was the Students’ Union that decided to recognize the importance of these students’ work.”

Mohajer stresses how individualized research, like the projects these students are working on, can exemplify the learning process.”I would say undergraduate research is important for a huge number of reasons,” said Mohajer. “You’re doing your own work for your benefit, with your own questions and your own inquiry, so it’s much more creative.”

She said students learn a lot from that process because they are leading themselves.

There was such a large demand to be a part of this event, students had to be turned away this year. The event has grown in recent years in the number of participants as well as prize money. Over $21,000 in awards will be handed out this year.

On Nov. 25 three undergrads will be giving oral presentations on their work.

Fifth-year computer science student Bon Aseniero, one of the chosen three, will be talking about his attempts to interact with memories, using computer technologies like Microsoft Kinect.

“My research is under the area of human-computer interaction to go into the realm of memory,” said Aseniero. “What we have right now are videos, pictures, journals and things like that as placeholders for our memories, and we thought ‘what if we can actually put some kind of interaction towards revisiting them.’”

Aseniero is trying to find a way to use technological tools that use motion and video to tap into experiences of the past. He said being able to showcase his work at this event is very beneficial to himself, as well as the university.

“I think the symposium gives students like me a chance to actually be able to show what we are working on and what we’re doing to the rest of the community,” said Aseniero. “Also, it’s a really good opportunity for undergrad students who want to get a master’s or a PhD, and it can prepare us for what’s ahead.”

Fourth-year psychology student Jessica Pow will be giving an oral presentation on ‘unforgiveness’ and the advantages of not forgiving.

“Although there has been a lot of research on forgiveness and a large assumption has been placed that it’s always good to forgive, there has been very little research on ‘unforgiveness,’” said Pow, who looked at a large array of victims, transgressors and close family and friends of victims to determine the reasons why people choose to forgive or not.

She said that an event like the Undergraduate Research Symposium gives student researchers proper attention.

“It can help students gain important feedback that they can’t get anywhere else,” said Pow. “In the past, it was hard to interpret my own results, and this has forced me to really solidify what I think about this topic.”

The oral presentations and award ceremony will be held Nov. 25 in MacHall Ballroom at 6 p.m.

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