Annual research forum moves online

By Cody Boteler on April 19, 2020

Undergraduate research will be on display at a virtual version of Towson's annual Research & Creative Inquiry Forum

Research forum collage
Towson University's annual research forum will move online for the first time.

Towson University students may not be on campus, but they are still partnering with faculty on original research.    

To make sure their work does not go unnoticed, TU’s Office of Undergraduate Research has organized a virtual version of the annual Student Research & Creative Inquiry Forum. More than 100 students will participate, says Alexei Kolesnikov, director of undergraduate research in the Office of the Provost.  

 “I think one thing that Towson has that makes it unique is a history of engaging undergraduate students in research,” says Kolesnikov, also a professor in the Department of Mathematics. “We have small class sizes for undergraduates, which helps connect faculty and students who want to engage in research beyond a class assignment.”

TU’s emphasis on undergraduate research means all students have the opportunity to conduct original work while earning their degrees.   

About 80 students have opted to prerecord their presentations, and about 20 will present in real-time on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.

The forum can be accessed through a Blackboard community, a first for TU.

Instead of wandering through the University Union or the West Village Commons to look at posters and watch presentations, members of the university community can view the forum from the comfort of their couches.

Visitors to the Forum can interact with students during live presentations, held Monday through Wednesday, or watch pre-recorded presentations and leave their questions and comments

Many academic conferences around the nation have been cancelled or postponed, and those would have been natural environments for students to present research, Kolesnikov says.    

“It’s important that students have a forum in which to present their findings,” he says.    

TU’s Student Research & Creative Inquiry Forum will still feature undergraduate and graduate-level research.    

Students from each of TU’s six colleges are participating, and topics include learning strategies for school children, diets to help prevent cancer, the impact of the global drug market on Baltimore and intergalactic dust.    

“This is truly a campus-wide event,” says Kolesnikov. 

The forum coincides with National Undergraduate Research Week, a yearly celebration organized by the Council on Undergraduate Research, of which Towson University is an institutional member.    

This kind of research work can help students not only when they apply to graduate programs, Kolesnikov says, but also when they’re looking for employment.  

 Participating in undergraduate research teaches TU students how to answer open-ended questions, stick with a project and think critically.  

TU undergraduates have been recognized regionally and nationally for their research in the past. This year is no different. Two have won the prestigious Goldwater Scholarship and a research grant from the National Science Foundation.  

Kolesnikov says participating in undergraduate research can prepare a student to enter graduate school or give them an advantage while searching for a careers.

“The moment a student brings up the undergraduate research project that they did, the entire conversation, whether it’s a career fair or an onsite interview, goes completely into that,” he says.