When UMBC’s 23rd annual Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day (URCAD) was briefly paused to respond to a fire drill, Howard Nicholson ’21, chemical engineering, did not skip a beat. The Undergraduate Research Awardee unrolled his poster outside and continued to explain his work done with biosensors, which would allow real time drug monitoring to compensate for patient-to-patient variabilities.
“It’s great to see your work come to fruition,” says Nicholson, who also presented at URCAD in 2018. “You see how it all makes sense, and I’m able to solidify my own knowledge and educate others on pressing issues in the scientific community.”
Through the course of the day, which featured undergraduate work from thermodynamic modeling of pollutant uptake by freshwater mussels to a video game that promoted therapy rehabilitation for post-stroke patients, and even a light show with a fog machine, students shared their best and brightest ideas with the campus community and beyond. Now in its 23rd year, URCAD has given thousands of young researchers the chance to highlight their individual interests as well as collaborative work between professors and students.
Campus practically comes to a standstill on this day, with ample opportunities to geek out about groundbreaking research from students just starting out in the field.
“I love to see students succeed,” says Dr. April Householder, Director of Undergraduate Research and Prestigious Scholarships, and URCAD coordinator. “There’s nothing better than to watch a student have an idea that they’ve taken maybe a couple of months ago, maybe a couple of years ago, and develop that over time… and then to come to a day like this and see the culmination of that work and to celebrate within our community and see, really, from beginning to end what that process was like for them.”
Back in the Ballroom, Hye Jin Park ’20, psychology, explains the connections she found in her research with Charissa S. L. Cheah on the role marital quality and parenting plays in Korean-American children’s social problem-solving skills. Park, who is Korean, says that Cheah, a professor of psychology, provided her with two graduate student mentors to work with who were also Korean, and that their collective language abilities allowed them to connect with their subjects on a deeper level.
“Dr. Cheah’s door was always open, “ says Park, an undergraduate research awardee. “She was open to how I wanted to conduct the research and present the findings. We met often for her to explain any revisions, and in fact, we’re planning on working together on a different project in the future.” Park plans on continuing to focus her research on Korean populations, “We’re underrepresented in research.”
Eric Grollman ’07, sociology and psychology, now an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Richmond, spoke in the keynote address about the inherent political aspects of science. As a scholar-activist during their time on campus, Grollman encouraged the students present to embrace the activism necessary to have their voice heard.
Here’s a small collection of highlights from the day. To learn more, visit ur.umbc.edu.
Unless otherwise noted, all photos, including the header image, are courtesy of Marlayna Demond ’11.