Trying to capture the range of WSU’s research and creative activity in one room is a lofty aspiration, but the Academic Showcase takes aim at that goal each spring. The event is part of a week-long celebration of hard work, talent and creativity by Cougars from across the academic spectrum.
WSU Showcase is scheduled for March 25-29 and there are numerous ways for faculty, staff and students to participate.
“We want to see the diversity of all that we do at WSU,” says Lori Wiest, professor of music and associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, who has served on the Showcase organizing committee for nearly a decade. “We’re seeing more and more collaboration, which is very exciting, and it’s important for us to see what our colleagues are doing across campus. That’s the cool thing that Showcase does for our university.”
While highlighting the array of research and creative activities WSU encompasses, the event also provides tremendous benefits for the presenters. For some graduate students, the Academic Showcase is their first opportunity to share their work, while others get practice at putting their work into laypeople’s terms.
“It certainly helps to increase their confidence levels in presenting, and helps them develop the soft skills that employers are after,” says Mary Sánchez Lanier, chair of the Showcase Committee and assistant vice provost for Undergraduate Education. “Explaining their research to people in other fields is a really valuable skill.”
Undergraduate students are invited to take part in the Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA). Sánchez Lanier notes that confidence levels increase and graduation rates and grad school acceptance rates are higher for students who have participated in and presented their research.
Senior Zachary Taylor jumped into SURCA as a freshman and hasn’t missed it since. Taylor immersed himself in research through WSU’s Students Targeted toward Advanced Research Studies (STARS) program, and earned a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for 2018-19. He credits SURCA with helping him develop as a researcher and presenter.
“I’ve gained a lot of experience at SURCA, really learning how to give an elevator pitch about the research I’m doing,” Taylor says. “People are there to listen and it’s great to get immediate feedback on your work.”
Abstract submissions for the Academic Showcase for faculty, staff, graduate and professional students are due January 16. Abstracts for SURCA are due February 22. The full schedule of events is available online.