[Currents headergraphic]

June 29, 1998

Poster symposium showcases undergraduate research in natural sciences

By Tim Stephens

Winners of the poster competition pose with Chancellor Greenwood, Dean Kliger, and biology professor Lynda Goff at the Natural Sciences Undergraduate Research Symposium. Front row: Erin Osborne, Rachel Karchin, M.R.C. Greenwood, Lynda Goff. Back row: Alexi Arango, Jake Mannix, Alice Baldridge, Chris Winchell, David Kliger

From toxic marine algae to solar energy cells to the icy moons of Jupiter, undergraduate research projects at UCSC cover a broad range of topics. These projects also show an impressive level of sophistication, as was seen in the posters on display at the first annual Natural Sciences Undergraduate Research Symposium, held May 29 in the Earth and Marine Sciences Building.

The symposium featured 48 poster presentations by 47 undergraduate researchers. Lynda Goff, a professor of biology and the faculty chair of the symposium committee, called it the most stimulating poster session she had been to in years.

"I'm not kidding--these posters are better than many I have seen at national and international scientific meetings," Goff said.

Speaking at a reception at University House after the poster session, Chancellor M.R.C. Greenwood also had high praise for the student researchers.

"There is much talk nationally about what's wrong with undergraduate education, but here at UC Santa Cruz we have an example of what's right," Greenwood said. "The opportunities for valuable undergraduate research experiences are among the things that make UCSC so special."

A faculty committee selected the top six posters from the symposium. At the reception, Greenwood and dean of natural sciences David Kliger awarded ribbons to the student authors of the top posters.

"We thought we would pick the top four, and we got five ribbons just in case. But there were so many good posters we had to pick six," Kliger said. "I don't think I could have chosen them myself--they all deserve an award," he added.

The winning posters were:

Goff said she looks forward to many more undergraduate research symposia in the future and hopes other divisions on campus will follow the lead of natural sciences, using this year's poster symposium as a model. In addition, Goff hopes to use the annual symposium to attract more funding for undergraduate research.

"I would like to form partnerships with businesses and industry to sponsor summer research internships for undergraduates at UCSC," Goff said.

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