Undergraduate Research Conference Adds Creative Showcase

From the March 2017 Desktop News Inspired by the national effort to bring arts back into the research world, The University of Alabama’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference is kicking off its 14th year with an undergraduate Creative Showcase Wednesday, March 29 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Ferguson Center Theatre and Gallery on the UA campus.

“The University of Alabama excels in research and creative activity,” said Dr. Kim Bissell, UA’s director for undergraduate research and associate dean in the College of Communication and Information Sciences. “But the URCA conference, as it was structured, did not give creative activity and fine arts students the venue to showcase their work.  So, the Office for Undergraduate Research decided that having a kick-off event in the form of the Creative Showcase would be a great way to put the spotlight on excellence in creative activities.”

The showcase, emceed by acting program director and professor Seth Panitch, will feature 12 performances, highlighting approximately 25 students in theatre, music, opera, dance, fashion, design, creative media, creative writing, advertising, and public relations.

Seating for the on-stage portion of the showcase, which is free and open to the public, opens at 4:30 p.m. However, the audience is also invited to attend a reception at 4:15 p.m., which will continue after the show, at the Ferguson Center Gallery, where an exhibition of student artworks will be on display before and after the show.

The artworks on display were created through the Da Vinci’s Studio initiative—a program conceived in 2016 by Honor’s College student Jessica Shieh—to increase collaboration between student artists and researchers. Each artists begins with a 24-by-24 inch canvas and is given 10 hours to create an artistic rendering of research conducted by another UA student.

Last year, for the initiative, Shieh worked with biology student Shaiti Madireddy to create a mixed media piece depicting the effects of iron oxide nanoparticles on the pollen grain viability of the plant Arabidopsis thatliana.

Each of the exhibited canvases will be auctioned off at the end of the night. Proceeds will go to the Honor’s College for the continued support and expansion of the DaVinci’s Studio initiative as well as other undergraduate student research.

“In our first Showcase event, we wanted to select a diverse group of students, representing several colleges, to showcase their creative activity,” said Dr. Anneliese Bolland, the assistant director of the office for undergraduate research. “We hope that this Showcase will grow in the future and that we will be able to use a proposal submission process similar to our research conference.”

The Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Conference is a premier annual event at The University of Alabama that provides undergraduates an opportunity to highlight their research or creative activity.

In addition to bringing attention to the excellent work of undergraduate students, the conference allows students to gain experience presenting, compete for cash prizes and form relationships with their faculty mentors and fellow conference presenters.