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The SRC Experience

Michelle Withers presents her research on individualized medicine in the general session of SRC.[/caption]
The 25th annual Student Research Conference (SRC) was held March 19 giving hundreds of students the opportunity to present and learn about mentored research at BYU.

During the conference both undergraduate and graduate students from the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (CPMS) were given the chance to explain the research that they are conducting as part of their education. Students from other majors and from local high schools also attended the conference’s Showcase session, in addition to some of the more technical sessions.

One of the major benefits of SRC is that it gives students valuable experience in presenting in a professional atmosphere. Professor Gus Hart, of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, said he encourages his students to present at SRC. While many schools only offer a poster session for students, BYU allows them to speak on their research, which he said is a far better experience.

“I think other schools do things similarly, but I think BYU tends to do it a little bigger, and a little better,” Hart said.

Students are only given 12 minutes for their presentation. Andrew Misseldine, a student in the Department of Mathematics, said that the short time is challenging because so much goes into a research project. Presenting at SRC helped him hone his skills as a presenter.

“You have to balance how much background you give, but still present your results with enough [information] that it makes sense to your audience,“ Misseldine said. “[SRC] definitely helps me focus on the important things; oftentimes you only get a small window to pitch your research.”

SRC also helps educate the BYU community on the research being done at the university. Hart said it was fun to learn more about the research of colleagues in his department and to see what students are doing.

Students from colleges outside CPMS also found value in the conference. Kimmy Anthony, a senior in human development, attended one of the technical sessions in the conference. She said she enjoyed seeing the applications that math has to the world around her.

“I felt like I stepped into another world when I came [to SRC] because everyone is talking about all this intense research that they’re doing,” Anthony said. “I had no idea that was going on at BYU.”

Jennifer Kironde, a senior in public health, said it was important to her to learn how physics and science apply to the real world. She said she felt that people often get lost in numbers and math, and forget about the application and good that science can do.

“I think becoming a well-rounded person means getting out of your comfort zone, giving people a chance to teach you something you don’t know,” Kironde said. “I’m a senior now, but if I could do it again I think I would inquire into studying physics and astronomy.”

Many students who attended found that SRC helped them better solidify what they wanted to study at BYU. One freshman, Natacia Snow, is currently a math education major, but she had been thinking about switching to English. After attending the conference, she said she wants to stay with math education.

“I think it’s a good opportunity, especially for freshmen if they’re dabbling in some math and physics, to go to some technical [presentations],” Anthony said. “They could find out, ‘Oh I really like quantum physics,’ or ‘I really like relativity.’”

The Showcase session was organized to help people who feel less math-and-science-minded to better understand what CPMS is involved in. The students who presented talked about how they did their research, and what it meant to “normal people.”

A group of high school students also attended the session, and afterwards went to a physics demonstration. Madeline Clement, a high school sophomore from Highland, Utah, said she is leaning towards being an English major, but she believes it’s important to look at all of her options. She even found a few things in the presentations that sparked her interest.

“For high school students, I think everyone should come, because you can’t have decided [what you want to do] already,” said Clement. “It’d be lame if I went to college and just became an English major just because I didn’t know anything about math or science.”

Hannah Waddel, also a high school sophomore, said she is very interested in a career in science. She said she especially liked the physics demonstration, and it helped her consider a career in that field.

“[SRC] is a great opportunity to learn about future careers and how people can apply [science] to problems,” Waddel said. “Sometimes it seems like it’s all really abstract, like I’ll never use it — SRC shows that it is useful.”
Missed the general session? Watch the Fast Forward video here.

By Erik Westesen Posted on