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UA students to share projects at Honors Research Expo

%09Erin+Clair%2C+a+former+student+in+the+Honors+College%2C+shows+her+research+results+on+early+humans+in+Tibet+with+former+Regent+Fred+Boice+at+the+Honors+Expo+in+2012.+This+year%26%238217%3Bs+expo+will+take+place+Wednesday+in+the+Student+Union+Memorial+Center.%28Photo+courtesy+of+David+Allen%2C+Honors+College+director+of+development%29

Erin Clair, a former student in the Honors College, shows her research results on early humans in Tibet with former Regent Fred Boice at the Honors Expo in 2012. This year’s expo will take place Wednesday in the Student Union Memorial Center.(Photo courtesy of David Allen, Honors College director of development)

UA students will showcase their yearlong research projects at the 26th annual Honors Research Expo on Wednesday.

After writing a project proposal last spring, select students were awarded grants, sponsored by the senior vice president for research and the UA Honors College, to fund their projects.

Students from all majors were encouraged to create and conduct a research project of their own interest. The program gives students the opportunity to see if they enjoy research before starting graduate school or their careers, according to Patricia
MacCorquodale, dean of the Honors College.

“Sometimes the projects will be successful and sometimes they won’t, but what’s most important is that the student gain that experience and that they’re really interested in doing the work,” MacCorquodale said.

Students have complete autonomy with their projects, MacCorquodale added. Though they have a faculty member advising them along the way, students are encouraged to think of solutions to problems they encounter on their own.

At the expo, students will speak with other students, including ones from high school, who have little knowledge of their topic and to graduate students and faculty who are experts on the matter. The ability to convey the ideas about their research to different audiences is another important skill students hone during the process, MacCorquodale said.

“The variety of the students’ projects is also really impressive,” MacCorquodale said, “from students who are doing art history and music to students who are doing lab research, fieldwork and everything in between.”

Nathan Yee, a sophomore studying computer science and math, analyzed hundreds of JavaScript files to see if they were malicious and if so, how they affect the everyday user. Yee said he was inspired by a similar project he worked on last spring with professor Saumya Debray.

“I wanted to delve deeper into it and analyze the practical side of it. It was a very tedious process but well worth it,” Yee said.

Despite that, Yee said the experience reaffirmed his desire to go on to graduate school for a doctorate in computer science.

“Research is a lot of fun but it’s difficult,” Yee said. “I was surprised by how many challenges and roadblocks I ran into. There were quite a few ups and downs, but I really enjoyed the whole process of research.”

Olivia Valencia, an art history sophomore, created a project that examined how artists transition from one medium of art to another throughout their careers.

Valencia said she hopes people recognize the history behind a painting and how a piece of art can inspire future generations of artists.

“I hope people recognize that when they see works like the Mona Lisa or the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo, they recognize that there’s an incredible history behind it, not just in the artwork itself, but in the person who made it,” Valencia said.

MacCorquodale encourages any students with ideas to apply for the grant and write a proposal.

“The whole purpose of research is to discover new things and there’s lots of things that can be discovered in whatever field students are studying,” MacCorquodale said. “One thing about the world in which we live is that the questions that we have lead to answers, and once we have those answers, we have a whole new set of questions. No matter what they’ve already learned, there’s more to know.”

The expo will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the North Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center.

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