Spring Quarter Snapshot: Undergrads Showcase Their Research Virtually

Student sits in front of computer.
Izaiah Ornelas, photographed here by his housemate, works on his presentation for the Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Activities Conference. (Fermin Banuelos-Gonzalez/UC Davis)

Each year, hundreds of students gather in The Pavilion at the ARC to display poster boards and explain various kinds of research projects. This year they’ll still gather to celebrate research, mentorship and collaboration — virtually.

The 31st annual Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Activities Conference moves full speed ahead as an online event this Thursday and Friday (May 7-8). More than 600 student presenters are participating this year, with video presentations that showcase their communication and research skills. Total virtual attendance is expected to be at more than 1,000, including faculty sponsors and staff.


The student projects focus on fields like biology, chemistry, animal science and civil engineering. For Izaiah Ornelas, a senior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology, his video presentation focuses on healthy compounds that are primarily found in broccoli, kale and cauliflower.

“These compounds have been shown to have beneficial effects on human health, being that they can prevent and suppress the development different types of cancers,” Ornelas said.

The conference also provides opportunities for faculty and graduate students to create lasting mentorships with undergraduates. Through the guidance, the student researchers are able to fine-tune both their research and presentation skills.

Think of it all as a key form of practice as these students prepare to enter graduate school or the workforce.

“A big part of being a scientist is presenting your data to the public,” Ornelas said. “This [conference] helps you develop those skills and gives you a feeler of where you need to be.”

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