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
August
 
1
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Mon
2
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Tue
3
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
Wed
4
UK Writing Center Open for Summer Session 2 (June 9-August 4)
End of the Summer II 2016 Eight-Week Session
Thu
5
 
Fri
6
 
Sat
7
 
Sun
8
 
Mon
9
 
Tue
10
 
Wed
11
 
Thu
12
 
Fri
13
Parent and Families Open House
Sat
14
 
Sun
15
 
Mon
16
UK Women's Forum Board Meeting
Tue
17
 
Wed
18
 
Thu
19
K Week Kick-off
Off-campus Freshmen Check-in
Parent and Families Reception
Fri
20
New Student Induction Ceremony
Big Blue U
Getting Around Campus and Beyond
Campus Ruckus
Sat
21
UK Lex-Mart
K Team Lunch
Late-night Target Run
Sun
22
TEAL Classrooms Open House
TEAL Classrooms Open House
TEAL Classrooms Open House
TEAL Classrooms Open House
Dinner with your K Team
Mon
23
We Are UK
TEAL Classrooms Open House
TEAL Classrooms Open House
TEAL Classrooms Open House
TEAL Classrooms Open House
Campus Tours for K Teams
Tue
24
First Day of School Photos
First day of classes of Fall 2016
Wed
25
Pedalpalooza
First Day of School Photos
Thu
26
OCSS Wildcat Block Watch
Fri
27
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Red River Gorge Adventure Trip for Out-of-State Students
Music Workshop for Teachers and Students: Michael Chandler
Flight 5191 Tenth Anniversary Memorial Service
Sat
28
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Sun
29
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Mon
30
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Last Day to Add a Class for Fall 2016
Last Day to Withdraw to Receive 80% Refund
Tue
31
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Wed
 
 
 
Aug 25
Pedalpalooza 08/25/2016

Thu, 08/25/2016

Fri, 08/26/2016

Sat, 08/27/2016 - Sun, 11/27/2016

Reset Page