Eli Capilouto

Guest Entry: 2013 National Conference on Undergraduate Research

Published: Apr 16, 2013

Earlier this semester, I welcomed the first "guest blogger" to share her experience at the 2013 Inauguration. The second in the series, Keith Hautala (UKPR) chronicles the 2013 National Conference on Undergraduate Research as the University of Kentucky prepares to host in 2014.

 

Please enjoy.

 

 

By Keith Hautala

 

Some 30 University of Kentucky undergraduates and four staff members boarded a bus early Wednesday morning and headed north for the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The student contingent would be joining their peers from hundreds of colleges and universities across the country to give oral and poster presentations at what has become the largest conference of its kind. The staff members would join a handful of UK representatives already in La Crosse, to observe and prepare for when the University of Kentucky and Lexington host NCUR in 2014.

 

After a 12-hour ride -- leaving behind the warmth of the Bluegrass for chilly Northern climes -- the UK delegation showed no sign of weariness on Thursday morning.

 

Quite the opposite.

 

The students in particular, some still in their first year, seemed to have been overtaken by a sense of earnest enthusiasm and excitement. After spending a couple of days with them, it's easy to see why.

 

These students are not the type to become bored easily. Rather, they approach the world around them with an intense interest and a chronic curiosity that is never fully satisfied. I was struck, during the opening plenary presentation, by just how silent a room full of 1,000 students can be. They sat, rapt and enthralled, as they listened to Arctic explorer and preservationist Will Steger tell his story of a four-and-a-half-month long dogsled expedition, traversing hundreds of miles of hostile, barren ice. Steger spoke, almost offhandedly, about finally reaching the point of no access, "the place where nobody had ever been before."

 

That's really what research is all about. Going where nobody has been. Breaking boundaries, exploring. Learning things that had never been known. Adding to the vast store of humanity's knowledge of the natural world, as well as the worlds of our own creation. It's easy to understand why these students were excited. 

 

Talking to several of the UK students during the poster session, it became clear that these students are truly animated, even driven, by a passion for their work. It's the type of outlook that can turn just about any subject into the most interesting thing in the world. 

 

I learned from Gareth Voss about his investigation into the regeneration of salamander tails, and how someday this knowledge could have revolutionary implications for medicine. I talked with Sarah Whelan about the parasitic fish called lamprey, and how understanding the rearrangement of its genome could lead to new insights on cancer. I listened to Talia Henkle talk about her research involving EIAV, a horse virus similar to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. I met Mary McKenna, whose surveillance of bat activity could have immense value to agriculture.

 

These young scientists have embarked on paths that already lead far past graduation from UK. For them, research isn't just another school project. It's something important, something that actually matters. They aren't preparing for their futures, they are beginning them.

ncur-mckenna.jpgncur-shah.jpg
September
 
1
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Labor Day - Academic Holiday
Mon
2
Employee Educational Assistance Award
Internship Info Session
Student/Faculty/Staff Mixer
Tue
3
Employee Educational Assistance Award
LNFS Presents: The Wolf of Wall Street
Last Day to Add a Class
Last Day to Drop a Course with 80% Refund
UK Volunteer Fair
Wed
4
LNFS Presents: Children of Men
LNFS Presents: How To Train Your Dragon 2
Black and Latino Male Initiative
Advance Your Swagger: A Night with Fonzworth Bentely
Thu
5
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Northern Iowa
Kentucky Volleyball vs. USC
LNFS Presents: Spirited Away
LNFS Presents: Mulan
Fri
6
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Kentucky Football vs. Ohio
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Creighton
Lets Swing Dance!
Sat
7
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Morehead State
Sun
8
Diversity Organization's Council
Kosher/Soul? (Jewish, African American & Appalachian culture Fuse)
Mon
9
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Tue
10
Massage on the Go
College: Do the Right Thing- A conversation with Dr. Smith
LNFS Presents: Fight Club
Wed
11
LNFS Presents: Mr & Mrs Smith
LNFS Presents: 22 Jump Street
Thu
12
LNFS Presents: Searching For Sugarman
LNFS Presents: Sin City
Fri
13
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Men's Soccer vs. ETSU
Sat
14
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Pepperdine
Sun
15
Kentucky Week Farmer's MarCat and Craft Fair
Majestic U.N.I.T.Y.
Mon
16
Justice Delayed not Justice Denied: A Talk with Dough Jones
PRHBTN Gallery Reception and Concert
Men's Soccer vs. Xavier
Tue
17
Internship Info Session
Last Day to Drop a Course Without Appearing on Transcript
Caregiver Support Group
LNFS Presents: The Immigrant
Wed
18
LNFS Presents: Watermark
LNFS Presents: X-Men: Days of Future Past
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Lipscomb
Thu
19
LNFS Presents: A Band Called Death
LNFS Presents: Prisoners
Men's Soccer vs. Furman
Fri
20
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Xavier
Sat
21
 
Sun
22
Kentucky Law Schools Forum
Mon
23
Employer Showcase
Men's Soccer vs. Lousville
Tue
24
Employer Showcase
Last Day to Drop a Course with 50% Refund
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn
LNFS Presents: Saving Mr. Banks
Wed
25
LNFS Presents: Culture Jam
LNFS Presents: Maleficent
Thu
26
LNFS Presents: Ponyo
LNFS Presents: The Little Mermaid
Women's Soccer vs. Mississippi State
Fri
27
Kentucky Football vs. Vanderbilt
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Sat
28
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Auburn
Sun
29
 
Mon
30
 
Tue
 
 
 
 
Sep 02
Internship Info Session 09/02/2014
Reset Page