Students in the Spotlight During Undergraduate Research Day

Presentations, posters and the pride of University of Houston students will be on view during Undergraduate Research Day (URD) on April 11. During this anticipated event, more than 360 students will display their academic discoveries on the second floor of the M.D. Anderson Library.

Throughout the afternoon, participating students will share insights on their work while showcasing carefully crafted research posters. Likewise, their faculty mentors will be on hand to offer support and share in the festivities.

This year’s event marks the 19th year that UH has hosted Undergraduate Research Day, and its number of participants continues to increase. The 2024 event has a 44% rise in student presenters. Among the Cougars scheduled to attend is biology major and first-time URD presenter Cole Woody.

He is looking forward to meeting fellow student researchers and offering insights on his work addressing the development of potential cancer vaccines. It’s Woody’s first Undergraduate Research Day, and the experience is pushing him out of his comfort zone. Developing a poster and discussing his work publicly are new territories for Woody, but he’s looking forward to undertaking new challenges.

Undergraduate Research Day also will support Woody’s future endeavors as a scholar, including an upcoming internship with the National Institutes of Health.

“Creating my first poster was definitely a daunting task, but registering for Undergraduate Research Day pushed me to conquer any fears of presenting in public and expand my skills,” he said.

student in white lab coat wearing glasses in laboratory

Cole Woody

Cole Woody

Another URD presenter is Sydney Tunches, a communications disorder major. Like Woody, she is grateful to discuss her work in a public setting. The experience, she said, will support her personal and professional growth as a researcher.

During URD, she will share her research on the language processing skills of children who grow up speaking in two dialects. Beyond simply sharing this work, Tunches hopes it will prove inspirational to other students seeking research opportunities.

“This experience is important for not only the students presenting their research, but others who might be interested in similar projects,” she said. “I hope at least one student becomes inspired to look into research at UH and understand all the benefits it brings to not only them, but to the University and the community.”

Other student researchers at URD include:

Valeria Gonzalez: A history major, Gonzalez is engaged with UH initiatives such as Research for Aspiring Coogs in the Humanities and Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage. Her research tapped into the Familia Morales Collection (a prominent source of Latino history in the Houston area) and addresses how death has been documented among Hispanic populations.

Carter Klebuc: Klebuc, a computer engineering major, is a recipient of a Provost Undergraduate Research Scholarship. His research focuses on the potential medical applications of devices such as millimeter-scale magnetic rotating swimmers.

Melanie Adhikary: An English major, Adhikary, was recently selected for a Fulbright Scholarship and is part of UH’s Mellon Research Scholars Program. During Undergraduate Research Day, she will analyze how short stories imagine distinct American family systems that spotlight racially and economically diverse central characters and showcase the lives of contemporary women.

Person with red shirt observing a red and white research poster
Students weatering red viewing research posters.
Male studdent with long hair and glasses working in a laboratory
Undergraduate Research Day is especially important because it's a necessary stepping stone in the realm of academia that reinforces the skills needed to present at any point in your career.
Brandt Bechtel, URD 2023 presenter and civil engineering major

“Undergraduate Research Day is one of the most exciting events during the academic year,” said Rikki Bettinger, director of UH’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards (OURMA). “With nearly 370 presenters and over 700 visitors, it’s impossible not to notice the incredible energy the event generates in the MD Anderson Library. In addition to showcasing their accomplishments and having high-level conversations about subjects in every discipline, Undergraduate Research Day is reminder of how much our students contribute to the University of Houston’s profile as a Carnegie-designated Tier One research university.”

OURMA is among the offices and departments working together to present this annual event that supports academic growth, professional development and student success. Other Undergraduate Research Day sponsors include the Office of the Provost, University Libraries, the Division of Research and the Honors College. Student support is made possible by the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, the Provost’s Undergraduate Research Scholarship and the Mellon Research Scholars Program.

Before Undergraduate Research Day kicks off, the campus community and visitors can get a preview of some of the scheduled presenters via UH’s Scholars Walk. This digital installation located behind MD Anderson Library features several of the young scholars—including Bechtel, Tunches and Woody—who will participate in this week’s event.

“Nothing compares to seeing our library filled with enthusiastic student researchers, who are ready to discuss their projects,” said Diane Z. Chase, UH senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “Undergraduate Research Day is the culmination of weeks and months of work, but it also marks a new beginning for many students who will continue to engage in relevant, meaningful research as graduate students and professionals.”

digital screens with text and images of students

UH Scholars Walk

UH Scholars Walk