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UNC Research Day brings students, ideas together

UNC stands as one of the nation’s top research universities for faculty and students. But some of the student body might not know about the research happening all around them or how to get involved.

To educate students and the community, the Graduate and Professional Student Federation is hosting its annual University Research Day today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Union’s Great Hall. Viewers will have an opportunity to learn from more than 70 participants that are expected to present research projects they have been involved in.

The research includes presentations on the connection between billing rates and wastewater facilities condition, the interaction between sports journalists and whistleblowers, and an evaluation of the impact that the Hispanic population has on labor unions.

Antonio Serrato-Capuchina, a second year Ph.D. candidate in the evolution, ecology and organismal biology program, planned much of the event. He said there is a large variety of research being presented.

“Some people have a mindset about what research is; it doesn’t have to be the science, just anything that expands knowledge,” he said.

While most of the speakers will be undergraduates, other presenters include graduate and post-doctoral students, faculty and affiliated researchers from all academic departments and disciplines.

Serrato-Capuchina said questioning is an important part of research because it allows spectators to better understand the projects, and enables the presenters to consolidate their knowledge of the topic through explanation or learn new perspectives for further research.

“Viewers will contribute comments that might help in their projects to further study,” he said.

Judges will also attend and rate each talk, provide feedback and give out awards thanking researchers for their participation.

Katie Lavoie, a third-year graduate student who worked on the event staff last year, said she thinks the event gives researchers confidence when they share their work with an uniformed audience.

“Presenters take ownership of their work. You get a better understanding if you can explain it to someone who doesn’t necessarily know what you’re doing,” she said.

Lavoie said many of the projects began with students communicating with professors who have a lead on a possible experiment. Although the professor who has received funding for it might initiate the research, individual students branch off into their own areas of interest.

For those interested in being involved, University Research Day offers attendees the chance to get involved as volunteers and researchers with some projects, Serrato-Capuchina said.

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