SURF celebrates student projects

Mt. A Undergrads impress with diverse range of research projects

Genetically modified fish. Sarah Noonan/Argosy

This past Friday, Sept. 22, Mount Allison undergraduate students presented their summer research projects at the annual Summer Undergraduate Research Fair (SURF).

The fair consisted of both poster and three-minute thesis presentations, with the overarching theme of the day consisting of explanations of both the concepts and relevance of projects. Student research topics ranged from Lyme disease and black-legged ticks to philosophical concepts to DDT to University sexual assault policies.

“It is very much a student-led, student-organized event in keeping with the spirit of how it was initially started,” said David Bruce, Director of the Office of Research Services at Mt. A.

Kyle Hill, a physics major who graduated in 2006, started SURF after his first year at Mt. A in 2003.

Hill recognized that the students were performing various research projects throughout the summer and that a forumwas needed to share and celebrate these works. “[It] started as a science specific event and within a couple years it sort of took on a life of its own and broadened to the whole campus across all disciplines,” said Bruce.

The fair has grown over the past 15 years, and provides students with a platform to present to their peers and to members of the general campus and community.

DDT. Sarah Noonan/Argosy

Kiera Stel, one of the fair’s student organizers, believes the fair is an important event by which student research, which may have been previously not well broadcasted, can be shared with the University and general community. “There is so much happening in the summer for students at Mt. A . . . I had no idea [about] all the things that were going on with the Lyme disease project,” Stel said, describing her excitement and amazement for the broad range of research topics presented.

“[The University] has a very strong emphasis on the student opportunities and the student experience doing research,” Bruce said. “There are relatively few other universities in Canada who provide a full range of opportunities for undergraduates to do [the types of] research that we do here at Mt. A.” To support the fair, his office offers budget support and administrative and logistical aid to the organizing committee, and promotion of the event to the university community.

Bioplastic. Sarah Noonan/Argosy

Fourth-year environmental science student Caeleigh Marshall presented her research on habitat preferences of Littoral Cladocera (a type of microcrustaceans) in the three-minute thesis format.

“Seeing people kind of get over their nerves and talk about their research . . . that was neat and I learned a lot about what people are doing,” Marshall said. “I think the three-minute thesis really was great because it was a basic way of understanding the research.”

Marshall’s only complaint was the notoriously echoey acoustics in Tweedie Hall. Despite this, she felt that “Everyone did a really great job. It was just nice to see and I stayed a lot longer than I thought,” Marshall said. “[I] wanted to see the presentations once they got going.”

The fair consisted of 18 posters and 30 three-minute thesis presentations, primarily presented by fourth-year honours students.

Emma Bush