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CURC Showcase moves online for undergraduate research symposium

Large gatherings may be banned right now, but students can still celebrate their work in one of the largest undergraduate events of the year virtually. 

For the first time ever, the annual Celebrate Undergraduate Research and Creativity Showcase will be hosted online from April 21-30. 

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CURC is a Colorado State University research symposium where any undergraduate student can present their project. Hundreds of students participate each year, with topics ranging from visual arts to neuroscience.

“We know that this is an event students look forward to,” said Mary Swanson, interim director of Student Engagement with The Institute for Learning and Teaching, which hosts the event. “We know that they like the opportunity to show their research and show their peers and professors.”

But this year, students will be sharing their work through an online gallery hosted with iPosterSessions.

View the CURC Showcase online here. Published posters will be visible earlier, but the official event runs April 21-30.”

Instead of presenting to live crowds winding through the Lory Student Center ballrooms, students will post short recordings of themselves describing their work to audiences who can click in as they please. (Anyone with the link can view the gallery.)

No longer limited by physical papers, “posters” can include videos, GIFs and audio, and viewers can still send comments to the authors.

“I’m really hoping students will see good use of the technological tool set that they’ve been given,” said Elizabeth Hale, program coordinator.

CURC has about 280 projects registered this year, 240 of which are registered in the research poster category, 20 in service learning and 20 in writing, according to Swanson. 

Since some posters are group projects, that’s roughly 350 students participating, Swanson said. That’s about 75% of what they’ve seen in previous years, not a drastically lower enrollment. Only one project had to withdraw after the shift to online presentation, Swanson said.

“I think it says a lot about our students that they’re willing to still put in this extra effort to make this happen,” Hale said.

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While CURC usually has an oral presentation and art category, those categories have been nixed due to the lack of a good presentation format. However, students who registered in those categories could adjust their work for the research poster format.

The event also includes awards for top research, best in show and for students in individual colleges. Judges for the posters can include anyone in the CSU community who is not an undergraduate student.

With the campus physically closed for the rest of the semester due to COVID-19, there will be no award ceremony. Organizers are also still figuring out the best prizes to give, Swanson said. Usually, the awards are certificates to the CSU Bookstore, which is operating virtually right now.  

Anyone at CSU who is not an undergraduate student can register to be a CURC judge until April 18.”

As events were being canceled all around them, organizers worked swiftly to shift CURC to an online setting within just a few weeks. Swanson said they saw the need to have a plan B the week before spring break, but “plan B quickly became plan A” as classes went remote, and campus buildings were locked down soon after.

CURC organizers are thrilled the event is still happening, Hale said. They encourage the CSU community to check out the gallery, leave feedback and cheer on their fellow students.

“I hope that it’s an opportunity for the campus community to come together and celebrate student accomplishments during a time we can’t physically be together,” Swanson said. “I’m really hoping that it can be a real bright spot during a time we are all missing each other and can’t celebrate in ways that we typically do.”

Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.

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