ECU hosts undergraduate researchers from across the state at 2020 SNCURCS

More than 400 undergraduate researchers from across North Carolina shared their work with their peers Nov. 7 at the 2020 State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium (SNCURCS).

East Carolina University and Elizabeth City State University hosted the event, which took place virtually for the first time in its 16-year history due to the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 400 undergraduate researchers from across the state left their printed posters at home for this year’s State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium. The event was hosted virtually in 2020 by East Carolina University and Elizabeth City State University. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Although students presented online, they were able to share their presentations through video and posters while taking questions in real time from attendees.

“Undergraduate students all over North Carolina look forward to SNCURCS to present the great faculty-mentored work they completed throughout the year,” said Lynnsay Marsan, ECU vice chancellor fellow for undergraduate research. “We wanted to do our part and hold this virtual conference as a way to encourage them to keep up the important work they do.”

The symposium was open to undergraduates from all higher academic institutions in North Carolina, including public and private four-year colleges, community colleges and high school students who have completed a project through an accredited university.

Categories for this year’s presentations included biological and life sciences, education, art, design and performing arts, and communication and journalism, among others.

The symposium accepted 430 abstract submissions this year, with 408 students presenting.

ECU junior engineering major Elliot Paul said sharing his research was one of the most exciting and fulfilling parts of the research process.

“After working long and hard to develop and conduct an interesting study, disseminating those findings feels like the cherry on top,” Paul said. “I don’t take for granted my opportunity to conduct research as an undergraduate student. Others are investing in me to make this a possibility; getting to present my work is just one way to show that this investment was worth it.”

Paul added that participating in undergraduate research activities forces him to be a problem solver.

“Classes are clearly an important piece of education, but I think there are benefits to research that are more difficult to glean from the classroom,” he said. “Whether I one day become a professor and help train the next generation of students or I pursue engineering roles in industry, I know that the skills I have developed as an undergraduate researcher will serve me well.”

First held in 2005, SNCURCS provides undergraduate scholars in all academic fields a forum to share the results of their research through posters, presentations, performances and works of art.

SNCURCS leadership also awards the annual George T. Barthalmus Research Grant — named for one of the event’s founders — to sophomore researchers to assist in their research development. ECU molecular biology major Anna Williams was one of five recipients of this year’s grant.

Learn more about the 2020 SNCURCS event online.