Students put research on display at annual symposium

Adagia Latta, a UO biology major, became interested in studying filbertworm moths after learning that Oregon’s Willamette Valley produces 99 percent of the U.S.’s hazelnuts.

Filbertworms are a key pest and growing threat to that crop, so Latta and her lab mentor Steve Haring decided to begin studying the infestation at Dorris Ranch, a publicly owned living history farm in Springfield. Their goal? Figure out where the filbertworms were most prevalent, the size of the infestation, and what pesticide alternatives might be used to control it. 

On Thursday, May 25, Latta will be one of around 450 UO students and recent graduates presenting their projects at the Undergraduate Research Symposium. The annual event showcases students’ hard work and research across all academic fields; 67 majors across all the UO’s schools and colleges will be represented.

Students can choose to present their research and findings through poster presentations, oral presentations or creative works performances. The event will be held in the Erb Memorial Union ballroom and other locations in the building; check online for the full schedule.

The all-day event is free and open to both the campus community and the public.

Latta said she’s excited to present her work to a large audience.

“I thought the research symposium would be a good opportunity for me to practice my science literacy skills,” she said, “and to share research in a way that might be a bit more approachable for an audience that doesn't have as deep of a science background.”

In the 12 years since its inception, the symposium has hosted a total of 3,840 UO student presenters and 1,043 research mentors.

Kevin Hatfield, assistant vice provost for undergraduate research and distinguished scholarships, said he sees the symposium as an open house of sorts, an opportunity for students to not only present to faculty members and their peers but also the wider Eugene and Lane County communities.

“It’s one of those wonderful moments for the community to connect and interact with the university,” he said. “It’s mutually beneficial. The community gets to learn and talk with budding researchers, and for students it’s a great opportunity to grow and present to a new audience.”

Among the attendees will be more than 120 Oregon high school students, through the UO’s Student Academy to Inspire Learning program, as well as students from Lane Community College, Umpqua Community College and Central Oregon Community College.

The event will feature a keynote luncheon address from UO alum Manju Bangalore, a physicist, former NASA intern and founder of two nonprofits.

“The symposium showcases research from a diversity of academic fields,” said Anshuman “AR” Razdan, UO vice president for research and innovation. “Not only is it a great opportunity for budding researchers to learn how to communicate and explain their work to a general audience, it’s a chance for the broader UO community to support our students in their endeavors.”

The symposium also continues to embrace and expand its inclusion of creative works projects, including theatrical performances, poetry and short fiction readings, and a light show. 

Quaye Dydasco, a junior majoring in theater arts, is one of four female students performing “Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots” by the Indigenous dramatist Monique Mojica. The show will take place in Aasen-Hull Hall at 7 p.m.

The play explores, both seriously and satirically, the truths of Native women’s lived experiences and focuses on loss of identity, stereotypes and exploitation, Dydasco said. Clark Honors College theater professor Theresa May and elder-in-residence Marta Lu Clifford are assisting with the production.

The symposium format has the added benefit of allowing the performers to offer a “talk back” session after the show where they can discuss the play and its themes with the audience, Dydasco said.

“Elevating Indigenous voices is very important to all four of us,” she said. “We’re proposing this as a research project and something we hope our audience is passionate and will want to learn more about.”

By Saul Hubbard, University Communications
—Top photo: Student researchers explain their projects to visitors at a poster session at a previous Undergraduate Research Symposium.