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Undergraduate Research Symposium starts today

The Undergraduate Research Symposium will take place today and on Friday in the Atrium and auditorium of the Bailey Science Center. The Symposium takes place every spring and is a chance for students to present their papers and posters to the school, setting the bar higher for undergraduate education and research.
Students who are selected have to go through a lengthy process of proposals, committee meetings, and acceptance and rejection notices. However, students don’t have to go through it alone.
Dr. Nathan Elliott, English professor and representative chair for the English Department for the Symposium, is one of the faculty advisers who worked with his students, encouraging them and helping them expand on their papers to increase their educational potential.
“I have had the students in one of my 4000-level classes last spring, and it was pretty good,” says Dr. Elliott. “I’m just working in a normal professor/mentor role, but it takes a lot of mentorship and feedback to go into a good paper, so I encourage them and usually they get going in the right direction. I have a lot of confidence in not only my students, but the students from the university as a whole. I was really impressed with the symposium last year—I learned a lot of interesting stuff.”
Dr. Elliott will not be able to attend the symposium because he is attending the national undergraduate research conference in Missoula, Montana, with student Rebecca Thorn, who was chosen to present her paper on “Vanity Fair” at the national conference.
“I argue that the narrator is extremely biased against his characters due to his personal relationship with one of his characters, and having received the story, he tells [it] through a source who disliked one of the main characters, whom he is most harsh on,” says Thorn.
The national conference is a huge resume booster for students like Thorn, who plans to go to graduate school.
On a more local level, Andrea Story, senior English and anthropology major, is one of the students who will present on April 16 during session 4 in the afternoon. Story is presenting her research on “The Poisonwood Bible” and the different views in a world motivated by culture and meaning.
“My grandmother gave me a Barbara Kingsolver book when I was around 15 and I loved her ever since. When my friends told me I had to go ahead and choose a book for my senior project, I chose ‘The Poisonwood Bible’ immediately,” says Story. “I worked on it for weeks; I had to use a lot of literary critic sources and a few articles. Dr. Davy gave me a lot of help with making this paper go from simply examining the narrative to exploring the narrative.”
Presenting a paper in front of hundreds of people, including professors, fellow students, and possible employers, can be intimidating. However, Story feels confident enough about it.
“What I have to say is valuable,” Story says. “I’m 99% sure I’m going in the right direction with this paper. But if you need that extra help, pick a [representative] chair who knows you and will also push you to do your best.”
The symposium is for students who have done their best; not only will their presentations be good additions to their resumes for future jobs and graduate school, but they will also be prepared for presenting themselves to the world. For students interested, stop by the Bailey Science Center today and on Friday to peek in on the sessions.

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