by Rich Shopes

Research ConferenceUSF Sarasota-Manatee campus students welcomed the return of the annual Undergraduate Research Conference after a two-year pause in the popular on-campus event due to COVID-19.

“It’s nice to see the students and connect with the students about their work,” Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook said as she perused the array of research posters in the campus’ Selby Auditorium. “The students have all done excellent work. I’m very impressed.”

The annual conference enables students to delve into a topic of their choosing for a semester or two under the tutelage of a faculty member, either individually or as part of a team of researchers. Lessons from the experience may be applied throughout their careers and can help as the students apply to graduate school.

“These students have been working all semester and they’re very excited to talk about what they’ve learned,” said conference organizer Associate Professor Jessica Grosholz, adding that, in addition to the subject matter, the students learned about discipline, focus, presentation skills and collaboration.

Last year’s forum was held virtually and involved all USF campuses. Previous conferences were held separately on each campus. This year, 21 students participated.

The forum featured 10 posters and one oral presentation (and Q&A session) by biology major Maegan Durinzi titled “Rationalized, Materialized, Institutionalized: Canada’s Discrimination of Immigrants with Disability.”

Biology major Ryan Sampson, whose poster was titled, “Observation of Commensal Frequency of Gopher Tortoise (Gopherus Polyphemus) Burrows at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Campus,” was named the Audience Choice Winner. Angela Perez Cruz’s “How Poor Self-Perception Feeds in Harmful Self-Handicapping Behaviors” poster received Honorable Mention.

Sampson will receive a certificate, and both he and Perez Cruz will be invited to the Student Research Awards Luncheon in Tampa on April 25.