UCO Prepares for NCUR 2018

UCO Prepares for NCUR 2018

UCO is preparing to host an annual undergraduate research conference.

The National Conference for Undergraduate Research is expected to bring 5,000 participants to the University of Central Oklahoma in 2018 with the theme of “Connection to Place.”

This is the first time NCUR has been hosted by UCO. Two co-chairs and 21 planning committees are established and preparing for the conference set for April 4-7 of next year.

“I would define the planning process right now as butterflies. It’s an exciting time,” Dr. Gregory Wilson, co-chair and assistant vice president of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, said.

“We’re now a year out, so things are getting real,” Dr. Michael Springer, co-chair and director of the Office of High Impact Practices, said.

NCUR is an annual conference that attracts students and faculty from across the country and brings visitors from an average of 10 other countries, Springer said. Research, creative and scholarly activities are emphasized.

The university was invited by NCUR to submit a letter of interest to host the conference. From the submitted letters, two institutions are selected to propose bid applications, Wilson said.

UCO’s application was about 150 pages and included letters of recommendation from Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, UCO President Don Betz, Provost John Barthell, deans of UCO colleges, members of the state legislature and other individuals.

“A successful conference bid like this is really a community effort,” Springer said. “UCO will host the conference, but it really requires the support of the community.”

Host institutions are selected three years in advance and work with the hosts that came before them. This year’s host is the University of Memphis. Representatives from UCO have met with the NCUR planning committee and University of Memphis staff to learn what they are doing and to share progress reports, Springer said.

Wilson and Springer included a new aspect in the proposal to host NCUR at UCO.

“One of the exciting aspects that we proposed when we sat down and started to think ‘What are our strengths as an institution? What are our strengths as a state?’ And [we] then compared that with what groups of students are underrepresented in past NCUR events,” Wilson said.

Underrepresented students are those whose majors are not as involved in research, creative and scholarly activities, but who can still apply these practices to their work and present at NCUR. To help these students feel more included and to provide another educational resource, pre-conference workshops will be held on April 4, 2018.

Five interdisciplinary tracks will look at the business energy sector, early childhood education through an international lens, American Indian studies, forensic sciences and interdisciplinary arts.

Students can submit abstracts beginning in October and ending December 2 of this year. Abstracts may be in the form of posters, oral presentations, performance pieces or artistic displays. Those who are accepted will be notified in January.

“The abstracts are reviewed. It is merit based and the best of the best get to present,” Wilson said.

Reviewers have been recruited from across Oklahoma and outside of the state to ensure that abstracts are reviewed by individuals who are knowledgeable on that topic.

NCUR also provides recruiting opportunities for employers and graduate schools. About 250 graduate schools will be at a graduate fair during the conference, Springer said.

The Faculty Senate passed a resolution this month encouraging faculty to incorporate NCUR sessions into plans for classes that will be held during the conference. This is recommended, but not required. Instructors wishing to hold classes during the conference can still do so, but are encouraged to work with the planning committee to make classroom arrangements if necessary.

“It’s faculty’s privilege to adapt in any way they want in lieu of classes for those two days,” Dr. Chintamani Jog, a faculty senate member, said.

The resolution was proposed by Jog, who is also an economics professor. He said he plans to direct his students to NCUR rather than have class.

Eighty-nine UCO students are presenting at this year’s NCUR conference, April 6-8, at the University of Memphis.

“It will bring the best and brightest to our community to see what UCO, what Edmond, what the Oklahoma City metro, what our state has to offer,” Springer said.

The NCUR 2018 website can be found at uco.edu/ncur2018.

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