For the first time in a hybrid online/in-person format, the Office of Undergraduate Research hosted the Undergraduate Research Festival March 30. While most of the student presentations happened online – either asynchronous or live – some students in the conference were able to present their research in the Hunter Welcome Center that evening.
Dr. Joshua Brokaw is the faculty director for the ACU Office of Undergraduate Research, and this year was his first time directing the festival. There were many different aspects to take into account when considering the necessary COVID-19 restrictions for the conference.
“The biggest challenge for the festival was definitely the uncertainty,” Brokaw said.
However, the Research Festival Planning Committee was still able to make this year’s festival look similar to the years past. The categories of research were social science, including those relating to the virus, arts and humanities, science, technology, engineering and mathematics and coronavirus.
The festival was sponsored by the Honors College and the Pruett Gerontology Center. Dr. Andrew Huddleston, associate professor in the Teacher Education Department, was a member of the publicity committee and also helped moderate one of the online sessions. At the in-person presentations, Huddleston received the Mentor of the Year Award for Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.
“It was a wonderful surprise, and a very nice honor recognizing the research mentoring I have done with undergraduate students,” Huddleston said.
The Festival Planning Committee has already begun organizing for 2022. After the success of this year’s conference – with 3,176 unique presentation views during the week the festival was online, for an average of 34 views per presentation page – the in-person festival may look different than it has in the past.
“What we still need to decide is how we might use some of the new capabilities and events that we have developed during these two years of virtual and hybrid productions,” Brokaw said.