MEDIA: Shelley Pressley, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, WSU Office of Undergraduate Education, 509-335-0014, UGResearch@wsu.edu
Mary Sánchez Lanier, WSU Assistant Vice Provost, 509-335-7767, email@example.com
PULLMAN, Wash.—Online applications are now open for Washington State University undergraduate researchers who wish to participate in the fourth annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) on Monday, March 30, announced the Office of Undergraduate Research.
SURCA is the only university-wide public venue for freshmen through seniors in all majors on every campus to share their mentored research, scholarship, and creative activities. It is part of the annual WSU Showcase, a week-long celebration of excellence. At SURCA, monetary prizes are awarded to researchers—novice to experienced—who are judged to be the top presenters in each of eight categories. Projects span science, humanities, social science, arts, and engineering topics.
“SURCA gives participants tremendous opportunities for personal and academic growth,” said Mary Sánchez Lanier, assistant vice provost. “Students must refine and organize knowledge gleaned from their months and years of work with a mentor. They must prepare detailed posters and practice concise speeches to tell various audiences about their work and results. At the event itself, they learn about the wealth of subjects being investigated by their peers.
“Participants from years past tell us that their understanding of the scope of their work as well as their commitment to research was deepened by their SURCA experience.”
SURCA also helps undergraduate researchers refine skills that Washington employers seek in their workplace leaders. Those include critical and creative thinking, communication, quantitative reasoning, scientific literacy, team experience, and risk-taking.
Shelley Pressley, director of undergraduate research, noted two important changes from previous SURCA events. SURCA remains part of the WSU Showcase spring celebration of achievements, but the day of SURCA has moved to Monday this year.
The second difference is that all SURCA participants must make poster presentations; oral presentations are no longer an option.
The first SURCA was held in 2011 when several independent poster events merged into one, hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research, part of the WSU Office of Undergraduate Education. The number of students presenting as well as prizes awarded has steadily grown, as have the number of judges who include faculty members, graduate students, staff, and experts from the community. Since it began SURCA has had more than 450 participants and generated 180 awards. Slightly more than half of the presenters are female. About one-third of presenters are first-generation and/or from low income backgrounds.