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Washington State University Office of the Provost

Undergrads take center stage at SURCA

WSU students present their research posters at the Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities last year in the CUB Senior Ballroom.
WSU students present their research posters at the Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities last year in the CUB Senior Ballroom.

Lydia Gerber anticipates WSU’s Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) each spring like baseball fans look forward to Opening Day.

A clinical associate professor in the Honors College, Gerber’s students have presented at SURCA since its inception in 2012 and it never gets old.

“Students bring a fresh mind to research and come up with fantastic ideas that often inspire me,” Gerber says. “It’s exciting. The students learn the joys and sometimes the pains of scholarship. SURCA is really my favorite University event.”

On March 30, the CUB Senior Ballroom will be filled with posters, presenting research and creative activities from the full spectrum of WSU’s academic enterprise. Students from each of WSU’s other campuses, including the Global Campus, can present projects via video chat. By the end of the day, hundreds of students will gain invaluable experience that can inspire new educational journeys and even shape careers.

Undergraduate research is a proven high-impact practice for students. Faculty provide mentorship and guidance, from the proposal to the presentation. And the WSU community witnesses the academic mission of the University in action as knowledge is created and disseminated.

“SURCA represents a way to refocus attention on the basics of what the University is about,” Gerber says. “Students from all majors come together and their classroom and lab experiences are manifested. It’s a great chance to see students grow and rise to the challenge.”

Professor Jim Pru’s students are engaged in lab work and have many hands-on experiences that help classroom lessons sink in. But by taking part in SURCA, he’s seen students gain a better understanding of the full scope of a research project.

“SURCA is a wonderful culmination of the work they’re doing,” says Pru, who specializes in reproductive physiology. “They get to do experiments, explain their research, stand up and talk about it, and defend it. It’s a great experience for them.”

Faculty can encourage their students to participate in the poster session – proposal abstracts are due February 20. Faculty can also participate as judges, which requires just a few hours of time and is a great way to experience the breadth of WSU’s academic community.

“It connects everyone with research roles across (our system),” Gerber says. “It’s a unifying event.”

Washington State University