Harrisburg –More than 120 students representing all 14 Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education universities will present their research this weekend at the first PASSHE Conference for Undergraduate Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
The conference will be held today and tomorrow at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania, where students will present their research findings in areas including astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer and information science, engineering and engineering technology, environmental science and physics. Nearly 100 papers and posters will be presented during the two-day conference.
“The conference will provide students the opportunity to present the results of their research projects that they have been working on in collaboration with faculty,” said PASSHE Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs James Moran. “Participating in undergraduate research helps sharpen critical thinking and problem-solving skills and understanding of the discipline. Sharing that excitement about that process of discovery is what makes a conference such as this so valuable.”
The conference, an outgrowth of a pair of workshops that were supported by a $25,000 award from the Council on Undergraduate Education, a national organization based in Washington, D.C., is an example of the special opportunities PASSHE students have to demonstrate the practical aspects of their learning.
PASSHE also sponsors an annual competition that gives entrepreneurial students the opportunity to develop and pitch their original business plans, with the winners of the competition receiving from $2,500 to $10,000 to be used as seed money to assist in the startup of their proposed business venture. More than 200 student teams participated in last year’s competition.
Students participating in the Conference on Undergraduate Research were chosen through a "double blind” review of their research projects. Faculty volunteers from the 14 State System universities reviewed student research papers and selected the participants without knowing their gender, academic major or the students’ home school.
Thomas Wenzel, professor of chemistry at Bates Colleges, will provide the conference’s keynote address. Wenzel has been the recipient of more than $2.8 million in research and educational grants and is a nationally recognized expert on student-faculty research.
Conference participants also will have the opportunity to attend several sessions on grant writing and other research-related topics. The conference will conclude with an awards ceremony on Saturday.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth, with about 112,000 students. The 14 PASSHE universities offer degree and certificate programs in more than 120 areas of study. About 500,000 PASSHE alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.
The state-owned universities are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester Universities of Pennsylvania. PASSHE also operates branch campuses in Clearfield, Freeport, Oil City and Punxsutawney and several regional centers, including the Dixon University Center in Harrisburg and the Philadelphia Multi University Center in Philadelphia.