A year after GUSA President Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) first introduced the idea in her campaign platform, the inaugural Undergraduate Research Symposium will take place in ICC Galleria this Saturday, featuring presentations on topics ranging from the hard sciences to the humanities.

“The idea of research in the culture of Georgetown is very associated with research in the hard sciences, while there are a ton of people doing research in the liberal arts,” Gustafson said. “The idea was to incorporate resources that already exist into this program. A research symposium of this scale takes seven months to plan. We decided to wait and do it on the very last day of our term.”

Over the past seven months, Gustafson and the symposium’s steering committee have been soliciting research proposals from students and working with the university to gain approval and funding. The Georgetown University Student Association contributes $2,000 for the symposium, while other expenses are covered by the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship, the Mortara Center for International Studies, the Georgetown Office of Fellowships, Awards and Research and the Office of the Provost.

According to Gustafson, Georgetown administrators became convinced of the need for a more centralized research structure through last year’s Student Life Report and university reaccreditationprocess.

While other research opporunities focus on specific issues within university departments, this symposium widens the range of possibility for undergraduate research.

“What makes the symposium special is that it encourages submissions from all majors and research backgrounds,”Symposium Steering Committee Chair Emily Oehlsen (SFS ’13) said.

From 9:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., panelists will present to an audience in ICC classrooms on topics ranging from political economy of foreign aid to health and society.

Nathaniel Cunningham (SFS ’13), a member of the economics panel, focused his research on currency manipulation in the United States and reasons for the current lack of government response to the issue.

“The reason I submitted my research was that the topic was something important that didn’t get a lot of attention,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham developed his research last semester in professor Victor Cha’s capstone course in Asian studies and in his work with associate professor Michael Green at the Center for Strategic and International Studies since fall 2011.

Following a lunch break and a speech by National Science Foundation Deputy Director Cora Marrett, students will give poster presentations  in ICC Galleria, where they will answer questions from circulating attendees, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Julia Kieserman (COL ’16) researched the middle ear and the use of a prosthetic.

“My research is about the stapes, which is a bone in the middle ear,” Kieserman said. “I’ve been working on it since I was a sophomore in high school.”

Kieserman, who worked with two doctors at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, studied the short-term efficacy of prosthesis in comparison to similar products. Although Kieserman is an economics major, she said that her research experience is still applicable to her academic interests.

“The idea of researching is relevant to pretty much any field,” Kieserman said. “I really enjoyed it.”

Keiserman said that it will be interesting to exchange ideas at the symposium.

“It’s really cool to see the types of research that other people are doing,” he said. “In high school, it was mostly science, so it’s great to see the other types.”

Like Cunningham, Jose Madrid (COL ’14) will use the symposium as an opportunity to showcase research he completed in conjunction with professors.

Madrid will present research about white slavery in the United States during the progressive era in the early 20th century. He worked with associate professor of history Katherine Benton-Cohen, and the research will be included in a chapter about immigration in her upcoming book.

Benton-Cohen encouraged Madrid to submit his research to the symposium.

“I’ve been doing research since fall freshman year, and this is an opportunity to show what goes on behind the scenes,” Madrid said. “For me, it’s evidence of the university’s commitment to research and being an institution that values research, especially for undergraduates.”

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