Back in Person: PURC Symposium Draws a Crowd

Undergraduate researchers Minh Giang (left) and Ashton Tillett
Undergraduate researchers Minh Giang (left) and Ashton Tillett

The 16th Annual UNC Pembroke Undergraduate Research and Creativity (PURC) symposium attracted a lively crowd to the Livermore Library, where students showcased their research and creative works. It was the first time since the start of the COVID pandemic that the PURC symposium was held in person. Dr. Brandon Sanderson (Interim Director of PURC) and Dr. Richard Gay (Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences) welcomed the audience to the symposium, which was held on April 20th. Dr. Matthew Schneider (Sociology and Criminal Justice) used his keynote address to reflect on the importance of undergraduate research in shaping his career.

More than 40 posters (including 20 from Biology) and nine art exhibits were displayed. In step with a wide diversity of disciplines in the College of Arts and Sciences, topics ranged from box turtle foraging ecology, medicinal and antimicrobial properties of herbal extracts, ecology of insect pollinators, systematics of flowering plants, agricultural amendments, effects of shockwaves on brain cells, Sertoli cells in beef cattle, microplastic pollution, the role of the lysosomal system in cognitive impairment, genomic analysis of pollen, to the use of spectroelectrochemistry in chemical analysis, Japanese traditional musical instruments, influence of weather on art and culture, the history of Tuscarora in North Carolina, and to botanical illustrations. Three undergraduate researchers gave oral presentations. Terry Chavez (Chemistry and Physics) explained how she measured non-resonant Faraday rotation, Jared Tuton (Biology) discussed the role of an integrin inhibitor in brain explants, and Ashton Tillett (Biology) reviewed the effects of an herbal extract on a model organism. Presentations and exhibits were well attended by people from across campus.

Wrapping up the symposium, Dr. Paul Flowers of the Chemistry and Physics Department introduced his former colleague and good friend, Dr. Timothy Ritter, who has established the Dr. Timothy M. Ritter and Marie A. Amero Endowed Research Scholarship. Dr. Ritter reflected fondly on his 21 years of service at the University, including his role in establishing and mentoring undergraduate research programs while forging long-lasting relationships with students. Haleigh Grace was this year’s recipient of the endowed research scholarship, and Jazmine Borden was recipient of the Charles Humphrey Undergraduate Conference Travel Award. This was the first year that the PURC Council recognized two Undergraduate Research Mentor Awardees: Dr. Maria Santisteban (Biology) and Dr. Jamie Mize (History and American Indian Studies).

You can access the complete symposium program (PDF) by clicking here.

Congratulations to students, faculty, and staff on an excellent PURC symposium! Well wishes go to Dr. Rebecca Bullard-Dillard (former Director of PURC) in her early retirement from the University.