Annual UROP symposium showcases student research

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 7:23pm

LSA sophomore Marina Garcia stands in front of her UROP project at the annual Spring Research Symposium at the Michigan Union on Tuesday.

LSA sophomore Marina Garcia stands in front of her UROP project at the annual Spring Research Symposium at the Michigan Union on Tuesday. Buy this photo
(Marina Ross/Daily)


The University Research Opportunity Program held its annual Spring Research Symposium at the Michigan Union Tuesday. During the symposium, student researchers presented their year-long projects to the public, covering such topics as political science, microbiology and sociology. Students, faculty, and family members were in attendance at the event, which displayed the works of students were paired with faculty members to guide them in their research.

Catalina Ormsby, associate director of UROP, said the program ensures every student participant the proper resources throughout the year to make a presentation.  

“We provide students with anything they need,” Ormsby said. “We make sure that every student has a judge that will visit them. They will hopefully get a blue ribbon, if they have done an extraordinary job on their presentation.”

Ormsby said UROP is an extraordinary experience for both students and faculty mentors, adding that students acquire useful research skills that are applicable in research endeavors and future careers.

“This is an exciting opportunity to see how the students have grown since last fall,” Ormsby said. “Most of (them) do not have any experience. By the end of the year, they are talking about the research opportunity like they are experts.”

LSA junior Nathanael Boorsma worked with Angela Ebreo, associate research scientist of the Center for Institutional Diversity. Boorsma’s project focuses on first-generation college students’ experiences in STEM fields and the lack of social this population recieves.

“Overall, we found that first-generation college students receive significantly less socializing support from their families than second-generation college students,” Boorsma said. “In general, (first-generation) students who are majoring in STEM experience more role overload and role conflict.”

Boorsma said more needs to be done to support first-generation college students in their academic pursuits.

“I hope that we can look into the psychosocial strengths of first-generation college students and how we can use those strengths to implement those programs and services to help them succeed,” Boorsma said.

LSA freshmen Nitya Gupta and Michele Laarman were mentored by Rackham student Lagina Gause, researching police, violence and protests. They newspaper clippings to analyze police and protester violence at collective action events– events at which a group of people aims to achieve a common goal.  

“We looked at whether or not the police were violent at collective action events, whether or not (the protesters) were violent, and whether or not the protesters were also violent when the police were violent,” Gupta said. “When the police were violent, protesters were violent 49 percent of the time.”

Laarman said the research topic is particularly important to her since police violence is currently a controversial and relevant societal issue.

“I am interested in sociology and social justice,” Larman said. “This project produces so much data about protest actions, what the population is concerned about, and how they are enacting their changes. It is broadly applicable and produces so much information.”

LSA sophomore Alyssa Gonzales presented her plan to study the participants of the Prison Creative Arts Project, a program housed at the University’s Residential College which seeks to strengthen the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated community through creative expression in the form of theatre, dance, music and other art forms.  Gonzales collected various demographic data on the PCAP participants, including race, artistic interests and gender. She found that several PCAP participants mentioned that art has been beneficial in their transition from life in prison to life after their release.

Gonzales said she hopes that her research will bring positive changes to the PCAP.

“With the results, I hope PCAP shifts their focus to include providing more film or writing and acting workshop. Therefore, once (the incarcerated) leave the prisons, they would be able to pursue those fields, perhaps as a profession or career,” Gonzalez said.

LSA junior Nisreen El-Saghir said she decided to attend the symposium because she is a former member of UROP and wanted to listen to her younger sister’s presentation.

“I think it’s cool to come back and see where they are all taking their research,” El-Saghir said.  “I came to support my sister and all of the other undergrads who are pursuing their research.”