More than 300 undergrads to show off research, artistry chops

Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day 2013More than 300 NIU students are making last-minute preparations before showcasing their ingenuity and artistry during the fifth annual Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day (URAD).

The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, in the Duke Ellington Ballroom of the Holmes Student Center.

Open to the public, URAD will treat visitors to a plethora of original student research projects and exhibits. They include research into cancer, eye disease, nanotechnology, tornadoes, women in post-Nazi Germany, child abuse, bullying, robot design, musical performance anxiety, the impact of technology use on sleep and the usefulness of an automated outdoor grill.

Students from the College of Visual and Performing Arts are involved as well. One project from the college, for example, uses illustration and photography to show the beauty of NIU through the eyes of an art major.

“This will be the biggest and most impressive Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day that we’ve ever had,” says Stephanie Zobac, assistant director of the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning, which hosts the annual event.

“Overall, we have 196 posters, projects and exhibits that will be on display,” Zobac says. “Every college at NIU is represented.”

NIU faculty researchers and artists serve as mentors to the NIU students, many of whom dive into projects as early as their freshman year through programs such as Research Rookies.

Student projects also represent the culmination of student work in independent studies, capstone projects, Undergraduate Research Assistantships and programs such as the McKearn FellowsSummer Research Opportunities, University Honors Summer Scholars, Undergraduate Research Apprenticeships, Engineering Undergraduate Research Apprenticeships and Undergraduate Special Opportunities in Artistry and Research.

Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day 2013“This event continues to grow because we’ve seen the number of undergraduate research programs expand across campus,” Zobac says.

“There has also been an increased awareness of available programs and the value of undergraduate research. More and more departments across campus want to see their students present at URAD as a capstone-culminating experience,” she adds. “And students themselves understand they can use their research experiences to help give them a leg up in their studies, during job interviews, on resumes or when they’re applying for graduate schools.”

A Community Engagement Showcase also will take place from noon to 2:30 p.m. in the Glass Gallery Lounge of the Holmes Student Center. Students who have participated in community service work or service learning will highlight their efforts and projects, which demonstrate the meaningful service students provide to the NIU campus and community.

The URAD Awards Ceremony will be held from 2:30 to 3 p.m. the day of the event, with cash prizes to be awarded in two categories: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM); and Arts, Education, Humanities and Social Sciences. In addition, Professor Katharina Barbe will present an award for the outstanding Humanities project from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and one research adviser or mentor will be honored with the Faculty Mentor of the Year award.

John McKearn
John McKearn

The day’s events will conclude with a lecture by John McKearn, a prominent NIU alumnus and leader in the prescription drug industry. He will speak as part of the Last Lecture Series at 7 p.m. at the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center.

McKearn, who funded the McKearn Summer Research Fellows Program at NIU, is an accomplished drug developer in the prescription industry with experience “from the trenches to the top.” He has served as a board member of seven biotech companies and an adviser to several biotech investor groups, and he has founded several companies.

He currently is a general partner and managing director of RiverVest Venture Partners, one of the world’s most successful venture capital firms.

For more information on the day’s events, call (815) 753-8154 or email ugresearch@niu.edu.

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