UCO Dominates Oklahoma Research Day
The Northwestern Oklahoma State Jazz Band performs for Oklahoma Research Day 2017 attendees during the ORD Banquet. (Provided/ORD Facebook)
Oklahoma Research Day 2018 is expected to bring more than 550 presentations and 1,000 student and faculty presenters to Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s campus on March 9, with more than 50 percent of the presentations originating from the University of Central Oklahoma.
As a research symposium dedicated to promoting research across all Oklahoma campuses and all academic disciplines, the ORD Council accepts all abstract submissions so long as they adhere to the submission guidelines and are submitted by a currently enrolled student or current faculty member of an Oklahoma institute of higher education.
— Northwestern OK St U (@NWOSU) March 3, 2017
The conference is continuing to accept student and faculty abstract submissions through Jan. 31 and registration for the event is free, an opportunity that UCO’s Office of High-Impact Practices is encouraging students to take advantage of.
“Abstracts do not go through a peer-review process. The purpose of the event is to create an opportunity for interaction among students and faculty at Oklahoma’s colleges and universities,” said Michael Springer, director of UCO’s Office of High-Impact Practices
The first ORD was founded by former dean of UCO’s College of Graduate Studies and Research, Narasinga Rao, and was hosted on UCO’s campus in 1999 with only 233 poster presentations from Oklahoma students and faculty.
Now in its nineteenth year, the event regularly attracts upwards of 1,000 participants and more than 500 presentations from across the state. Noteworthy attendees in the past have included Noble Laureates, program advisors from the National Science Foundation and guest presenters knowledgeable about the NSF’s Graduate Fellowship Program.
While ORD was hosted by UCO until 2007, the event now rotates every two years among different universities as a means of promoting academic participation across the state. Aside from UCO, previous hosts for the conference have been Northeastern State University and Cameron University, with NWOSU hosting for both 2017 and 2018.
“Any student interested in attending graduate school should be excited to participate in ORD since research is such a large part of graduate education. It gives students experience and preparation,” said Shawn Holliday, the 2017-2018 ORD Coordinator and NWOSU’s associate dean of Graduate Studies.
UCO continues to provide the research symposium with the greatest number of presentations and attendees. Participants from UCO average 600-700 of the event’s 1,000 attendees, with a majority of these presenting from the university’s College of Math and Science and College of Education and Professional Studies.
While submissions to ORD are more prevalent from scientific and social science fields, the poster format of the conference does create a barrier in some instances, as it does not necessarily lend itself to presentations from other disciplines, such as those within the liberal arts.
“Experimental activities, whether they take place in the lab, involve surveys or otherwise develop quantitative data, produce results that are best delivered in a poster format,”said Catherine Webster, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “Literary, philosophical and historical research, among others, do not produce the same kind of results and are best delivered as a presentation or academic talk.”
This does decrease opportunities for participation from some of UCO’s colleges that are distinguished within undergraduate research of their own fields, such as the university’s College of Fine Arts and Design, but presentations from these colleges have been increasing over the years, according to Springer.
One of the primary goals of the Office of High-Impact Practices is to create undergraduate research opportunities across all disciplines. The office has spear-headed many of these, including supporting the expansion of the university’s student publications and bringing events such as the National Conference for Undergraduate Research to UCO’s campus.
“UCO faculty and staff invest considerable time and resources into creating undergraduate research experiences for students because such experiences help students learn, develop a sense of their professional self and prepare them for their future careers. I am proud to be a part of that,” Springer said.
The university’s dedication to undergraduate research and transformative learning through both UCO’s Student Transformative Learning Record and its history with ORD is believed to be a major component in its being chosen as the host of NCUR 2018, according to UCO Provost John Barthell.
“It is well documented that students working with faculty members on research projects increase their likelihood of staying in college and may even give them an advantage in the job market or in applying to graduate schools,” Barthell said.
Alongside providing the most submissions to ORD, UCO has submitted over 400 abstracts to the upcoming NCUR conference and Oklahoma has submitted more than any other state with over 650 submissions.
“These large events create an atmosphere that supports and celebrates student work,” said Webster. “They provide a welcoming and comfortable environment that reduces the anxiety some students may experience just thinking about this type of endeavor.”