EWU McNair Scholar Mori Williams and Lucia Roussa presented last week at the virtual National Council on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) Conference. NCUR promotes undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity in all fields of study through their conference for students. It celebrates undergraduate student achievement and hopes to help improve the state of undergraduate education. Each conference hosts 3,500 to 4,000 students from across the globe, presenting their research through posters, oral presentations, visual arts, and performances. This year the conference took place completely online.
Mori and Lucia both worked with mentor Dr. Camille McNeely on research at the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. Mori presented on cyanobacteria in the refuge by creating a video and then was available for questions during the conference. Lucia presented her project investigating the relationship between freshwater algal abundance and diversity through analyzing the eutrophication of these wetlands. Lucia's presentation was live during the conference. Here are some of Lucia's thoughts about presenting:
Presenting was much different than I had initially thought it was going to be. I really did not know what to expect, or how many people would be watching my presentation. Since the conference was online in a Zoom format it felt similar to a presentation you would give in class. There was only three students and one professor who watched me present live, so that made things a bit easier. I learned that presenting at a conference was not as scary as I had imagined! Maybe if it was in person I would feel differently, but all together it was a great experience."
I think my greatest take away from presenting at a conference is the importance of practicing your material out loud and being well prepared. I gave this presentation to my housemates more times than they probably wanted, but becoming completely comfortable with your slides and memorizing your information is key to a smooth and professional presentation."
I recommend that all students just go for it! I feel like there is such a stigma around the difficulty of these kinds of presentations/conferences. Personally, I have a huge fear of public speaking, especially in front of faculty and peers who are extremely knowledgeable! I was given great advice from one of my professors who said that you (the presenter) know the most about your topic, so be confident in what you are talking about! That really stuck with me and gave me so much confidence when it came my time to speak."
EWU McNair Encourages Scholar Presentations at Conferences
EWU McNair encourages all of its scholars to present at conferences such as NCUR to build confidence, experience, and to strengthen Curriculum Vitae's (CV) for applying to graduate school. This school year scholars presented at the Baylor McNair Research Conferenc,the Murdock College Science Research Conference, and last week at the Gabriel E. Gallardo Research, Student Leadership & Advocacy Symposium hosted by the University of Washington. Typically most EWU McNair Scholars also present at the EWU Symposium. Last year we may have set a record with 18 scholars presenting last spring! This year, to ensure our scholars have this opportunity, EWU McNair is partnering with CSTEM at EWU to host a symposium on June 2nd. The symposium will begin with a Social Justice in Research Panel with EWU McNair Alumni at 9 am. Check back on the McNair Website to find out how to register in advance to attend this secured Zoom event.
More about the 2021 NCUR Presenters
Lucia is finishing a dual Environmental Science and Biology major at Eastern Washington University. Lucia's research interests include phycology, marine microbiology, and conservation science in coastal marine ecosystems. Recently Lucia was selected as summer research intern by Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean, and Ecosystem Sciences (CICOES) at UW. She will research whether jellyfish populations can be used as markers of health in the Puget Sound with mentor Dr. Julie Keister.
Mori is majoring in Environmental Science with an emphasis in Chemistry and a minor in Japanese. He has worked in an Organic Chemistry lab at Eastern Washington University, which involves saponification, NMR readings, and reflux methods. He is interested in finding types of toxins in bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, and the ocean to find solutions for reducing those toxins. This spring he was accepted by the Toxicology PhD program at Oregon State University.
The EWU McNair staff are proud of Mori and Lucia and we're excited to see what they'll do next!