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Undergraduate Research Highlighted at Conference

Undergraduate Research Conference Connects Students with Faculty Mentors

UCR conference includes students from other Inland Empire colleges and universities

(April 28, 2005)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — — Students who want experience in graduate research presentations or who are hoping to develop mentorship with faculty will have an opportunity to do that by participating in the New Directions Undergraduate Research Conference (NDURC), which features keynote speakers from the National Science Foundation and UCR’s Department of Cell Biology.

Conference registration begins at 7:30 a.m., Saturday, May 7, at the University Lecture Hall of the University of California, Riverside. The conference is free and open to the public. For more information, call The Learning Center (951) 827-3721 or email Denise Ji-Ahnté at

Parking is free for conference attendees. Directions are available from parking attendants at the information kiosks at the University Avenue and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard campus entrances.

Keynote speakers are Thomas Vandergon, a professor of biology at Pepperdine University who is on leave to work as a program director in biology with the National Science Foundation; and Andrew Grosovsky, a professor of cell biology and a toxicologist at UCR. Grosovsky is also vice provost for undergraduate programs at UC Riverside.

Conference organizers seek to promote achievement in research and scholarship, to provide opportunities to create mentorships between faculty and students, and to nurture a networking support system.

Meeting other students with similar research interests is the major draw for Cynthia Carter, a third-year mechanical engineering major who is the UCR chapter president of the Society of Women Engineers. She’ll present her findings from a National Science Foundation summer research fellowship at the University of Alabama in which she measured pollution levels inside transit buses in Birmingham.

“I’m hoping to meet people interested in my field of study and to make contacts with faculty and with other students with similar interests,” she said.

Students from several colleges and universities in the Inland Empire have participated in the conference, now in its 14th year at UCR. The schools include the California State University, San Bernardino; Claremont-McKenna College; Loma Linda University; Scripps College in La Jolla; the University of LaVerne; and the University of Redlands. Participants must obtain a nomination from one of their professors. Students will give oral presentations, present poster boards, engage in roundtable discussions, give demonstrations and performances and take part of panel presentations.

“This conference provides a forum for students to present their research and network in an academic setting,” said conference organizer Denise Ji-Ahnté, who heads the GradTrack program at the UC Riverside’s Learning Center.

This year, for the first time, the conference will include guest speakers in workshop formats, demonstration/performances and panel presentations for students who wish to present group research projects.

For fourth-year psychology and studio art major Edgar Frias, the experience will be invaluable. He will present his work in two areas of study at the conference — a paper on the French New Wave in cinema and how French existentialist philosophy influenced the post-World War II film movement’s giants Francois Truffault and Jean-Luc Godard.

He will also present a paper titled Queer? An Exploration of the Fluidity of Reality Through the Views of Psychology and Art. The presentation, which is based on his honor’s program project that looks at how people perceive and grapple with their own socialized ideals of human sexuality with respect to the fluid nature of the queer experience. The presentation and will feature an art installation piece.

“This will help me learn how to present my work,” said Frias, who plans on pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree. “This experience will help me to speak concisely and hone my presentation skills, and, who knows, it may help me get into grad school.”

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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