More than 90 presentations were displayed during the 17th Annual Pembroke Undergraduate Research and Creativity (PURC) Symposium. Behind this record number of presentations were nearly 80 students from 15 academic departments, and nearly 50 faculty mentors who guided students in their scholarly research and creative works. For the second consecutive year, the Livermore Library hosted the PURC symposium, which was held this year on April 12th. The beautiful weather outdoors echoed the celebratory spirit indoors.
Dr. Richard Gay (Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences), and PURC Director Prof. Brandon Sanderson welcomed the audience, and Dr. Bob Poage (RISE Co-Director and Professor of Biology) introduced his friend and former colleague in the Department of Geology and Geography, Dr. Lee Phillips, as the symposium’s keynote speaker. Phillips is co-founder of the UNCP Undergraduate Research and Creativity Office and former director of PURC. He now serves as Director of the Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creativity Office at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His keynote address emphasized the critical role that undergraduate research had in shaping his own academic success and career path.
Student presentations were overwhelmingly displayed as posters, but several works of art were exhibited, and two students gave oral presentations. Logan Bossert’s talk was entitled, “Surviving Battleship Row: An Autoethnographic Heritage Study,” and Kinsley Adams’ talk was entitled, ““How to Safely Remove Honeydew Insects using Histoclear prior to DNA Amplification.” Seven undergraduate jazz musicians (Zhaire Carter, Wyatt Radford, DeWhitt Locklear, Phillip Brown, Jackson Mills, Logan Jackson, and Silas Seigler) treated the audience to original instrumental music that was inspired by well-known composers.
The PURC Center funded 20 students this academic year, which enabled them to present their research or creative works at international, national, and regional conferences. The symposium recognized two of these students as recipients of the Dr. Charles Humphrey Undergraduate Conference Travel Award – Biology majors, Hunter Ivey and Limari Vasquez. Chemistry major Reese Hicks was recognized as recipient of the Dr. Timothy M. Ritter and Marie A. Amero Endowed Research Scholarship. Drs. Kaitlin Campbell (Associate Professor and Assistant Chair in the Biology Department) and Michele Fazio (Professor in the English, Theatre, and World Languages Department) were announced as co-winners of the PURC Undergraduate Research Mentor Award.
According to the symposium program, “The mission of PURC is to promote, develop, and celebrate undergraduate student research, with the overall goal of enhancing undergraduate education and preparing students for careers in all disciplines.” The PURC Center offers assistance and funding that facilitate preparation in skills essential for professional programs and graduate studies. A network of dedicated faculty and staff is critical to the success of the PURC Center. The PURC Council includes eight faculty from multiple disciplines in the arts and sciences: Prof. Brandon Sanderson, Dr. Alice K. Locklear, Dr. Maria Santisteban, Dr. Xinyan Shi, Dr. Renee Lamphere, Dr. Matthew Hassett, Dr. Zachary Laminack, and Prof. Sailaja Vallabha. Administrative support includes Alesia Cummings, Gordon Byrd, and Elizabeth Jones.
Special thanks go to Prof. Brandon Sanderson for his heroic efforts in coordinating and organizing a truly excellent and memorable PURC symposium!