Feb. 23 deadline for undergrad research posters in SURCA

By Beverly Makhani, Office of Undergraduate Education

SURCA-logoPULLMAN, Wash. – The deadline is Feb. 23 for undergraduate researchers to apply online to participate in the fourth annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) on Monday, March 30.

For more information and to submit abstracts, see http://SURCA.wsu.edu.

SURCA is part of the annual WSU Showcase week-long celebration of excellence, but it has moved to Monday, from Friday, this year, said Shelley Pressley, director of undergraduate research.

Another change is that all SURCA participants must make poster presentations; oral presentations are no longer an option.

Academic growth, workplace readiness

“SURCA gives participants tremendous opportunities for personal and academic growth,” said Mary Sánchez Lanier, WSU assistant vice provost. It also helps undergraduate researchers refine skills that Washington employers seek in their workplace leaders, including critical and creative thinking, communication, quantitative reasoning, scientific literacy, team experience and risk-taking.

Monetary prizes are awarded to researchers – levels novice to experienced – who are judged to be the top presenters in each of eight categories. Projects span science, humanities, social science, arts and engineering topics.

“Students must refine and organize knowledge gleaned from their months and years of work with a mentor,” said Sánchez Lanier. “They must prepare detailed posters and practice concise speeches to tell various audiences about their work and results. At the event itself, they learn about the wealth of subjects being investigated by their peers.

“Participants from years past tell us that their understanding of the scope of their work as well as their commitment to research was deepened by their SURCA experience,” she said.

450 participants, 180 awards

The first SURCA was held in 2011 when several independent poster events merged into one hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research, part of the WSU Office of Undergraduate Education.

The number of students presenting as well as prizes awarded has steadily grown, as has the number of judges – who include faculty members, graduate students, staff and experts from the community. SURCA has had more than 450 participants and generated 180 awards.

Slightly more than half of presenters are female. About one-third of presenters are first-generation and/or from low-income backgrounds.