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Students and faculty celebrate year of research at symposium

(Ruby Wallau/Daily)
LSA freshman Mit Patel presents his group's research on liver transplant frailty scores at the UROP symposium at the Michigan League Tuesday. Buy this photo

By Max Radwin, Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 23, 2014

The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program celebrated its 25th anniversary at the 2014 UROP Spring Research Symposium Wednesday with the largest showing of research projects in the program’s history.

The event, which was hosted at the Michigan League, featured the work of the 800 research sponsors and 1,400 students that were involved in UROP this year.

Students in UROP partner with first- or second-year faculty members, as well as University research scientists and staff to pursue a research project in fields ranging from the humanities and social sciences to Engineering and Biomedicine. Students work six to 12 hours a week with their faculty members while preparing to present their findings at the end-of-the-year symposium.

UROP Director Sandra Gregerman said she values both the research skills that students gain and the relations they're able to form from one-on-one interactions with faculty.

“One of the things that I love about this event is that in the fall students look at our project book and they may not understand a single solitary word in the project description.” Gregerman said. “And by the time they are presenting they are experts in their field.”

At the event, professors also distributed awards for best poster and best presentation.

LSA freshman Rachel Moreton worked with Associate Research Prof.
Suzie Zick in the department of family medicine to examine the association between fatigue and five common health problems. She found that there was a connection between fatigue and depression, alcohol abuse and somatoform disorders — medical conditions that cannot be easily explained by physical or psychological testing.

“It was a really positive experience,” Moreton said. “I started out the year pre-med and even though I realized that that’s not where my aspirations lay it was a good learning experience because I learned a lot about research and it gave me an appreciation of learning the process of it.”

LSA junior Ellen Cope peer-advised 35 UROP students this year, teaching a bi-weekly seminar about research and professional skills like building a resume.

“A lot of times students don’t start doing research until later on in their college careers because a lot of them do want to go on and be doctors or professors and these skills are really going to help them in the future,” Cope said. “It’s an easy way for them to get involved with research and build a one-on-one relationship with a faculty member that a lot of times will help them throughout their career.”

Faculty at the event also expressed enthusiasm about the program. Communications Prof. Sonya Dal Cin, who advised two groups in this year's UROP cohort, said UROP students are typically some of the most motivated undergraduates.

“It’s a really good opportunity to connect with students who are interested in finding out everything that intellectual life is about,” Cin said. “These students tend to be interested in things beyond class,

“How can you apply it to the real world? How does the information we learn in class get generated? Where does it come from?,” she added. “It’s exciting to talk to students who are excited about learning and who are excited about the questions we’re asking.”