Scholars from 900 colleges and universities across the country participated in the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at the University of North Carolina Asheville this past week. NCUR was founded by three UNC Asheville professors in 1987 and returned to its founding campus April 7-9. This year marked the 30th convening of NCUR and approximately 4,000 scholars showcased their research and celebrated their accomplishments.
“People have been really excited to share their research and travel to UNC Asheville. Getting to travel, dress up and present, I think the butterflies that come from having to present led to an excitement and a feeling of accomplishment,“ said Tamsen Todisco, a senior studying Mass Communication at UNC Asheville. “I think that’s a huge part of the excitement,” said Todisco.
COPLAC students agreed that the most enriching part of NCUR was the vast diversity of research topics. “There are so many students out here with such a variety of interests,” said Grace Latimore, a senior studying English at the University of Illinois Springfield. “I was on the plane sitting next to a girl who was presenting on something about neuroscience, and I was just like that is so cool,” she said.
NCUR celebrates the high quality work and scholarly activity of undergraduates who deserve recognition, but may not continue academic research after receiving a Bachelor’s degree. “What people are doing as undergrads is really interesting,” said Meghan Saeli, a senior studying Anthropology and French at the State University of New York at Geneseo. “I didn’t even know you could study some of this stuff.”
NCUR provides an “opportunity for interchange and cross-fertilization between the traditionally divided academic fields,” which fits into the liberal arts model that COPLAC schools exemplify. Latimore said that she appreciates having “access to so many different fields and majors, but [University of Illinois] Springfield being smaller means you have greater access to faculty mentors who can really help you one-on-one and really help you find where your interests are.”
COPLAC students acknowledged the benefits of the residential education that COPLAC schools provide. “A distinguishing factor that sets my school apart is its size. Professors are a lot more able to devote time to extracurriculars,” said Ursula Quinn, a senior studying English Literature at SUNY Geneseo. NCUR is “a lot bigger than my home institution,” which Quinn said was a good experience for her.
With any conference comes great opportunities to network. On April 7th, COPLAC campuses were given the chance to meet and exchange ideas with their COPLAC peers. “I think COPLAC is a really cool way to network with other public liberal arts institutions,” said Quinn.
The University of Memphis has been selected to host NCUR 2017.
*COPLAC campuses featured in group photo: Eastern Connecticut State University, Fort Lewis College, Georgia College, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, SUNY Geneseo, University of Minnesota Morris, University of Illinois Springfield, and University of Wisconsin Superior.