Catholic University Research Day 2021

Photo Courtesy of the University Research Day Committee

By Chris Carey

University Research Day 2019 saw hundreds of individuals proudly sharing projects and answering curious onlookers in the great rooms and presentation halls across campus. After University Research Day 2020’s great success in a virtual format due to COVID-19, and with the deadline for 2021 abstract submission quickly approaching, it is time for students and faculty to consider submitting undergraduate research to take part in this unique campus event. 

University Research Day (URD) is a newer tradition dating back to 2016 that provides a platform for the vast number of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty, undertaking independent and department-driven research projects at Catholic University; it offers the researchers an opportunity to share results, build community, and foster interest in campus research. 

This year’s keynote speaker Dr. Venigalla Rao, a member of the Biology Department here at Catholic since 1989, will speak about the “Design of a COVID-19 Vaccine by CRISPR Engineering of Bacteriophage T4,” a project that Dr. Rao has worked on diligently since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

Researchers display their work through a variety of mediums: oral presentations, poster board presentations, and interactive sessions. For 2021, the goal of the research committee is to allow some safely conducted in-person events while having a large majority of the presentations occur in formats similar to those utilized last year.

More than 135 distinct groups and individuals presented last year, marking incredible turnout during such uncertain times. Topics ranging from prosthetic innovations and coach-player relationships to concussion detection and even to piano performances by the Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art were explored. 

URD offers the unique opportunity for any graduate or undergraduate student to delve more deeply into a given area that may not have been addressed in the classroom, or to expand on the interesting research projects he or she contributes to. 

“There are those ‘eureka’ moments where one is writing in the middle of the night and suddenly discovers the thesis … that ties the entire project together,” said one of the 2019 undergraduate oral presentation winners, junior classics major Gabriel Romito. “CUA students who choose to participate get the opportunity to either explore topics discussed in class deeper; or to choose a topic independent of their class and bring the passion of those classes into their own independent studies.”

Romito’s topic was an independent research project titled “Unearthing Armenian Mythology,” which, along with the other undergraduate winner, “What’s Killing the Yeast? Learning about How Antidepressants Work Using Yeast Genetics,” delivered by Paul Elizalde, demonstrates the breadth of topics present at any given URD.

Whether interested in the humanities, hard sciences, or a project entirely out of left field, URD can be a great way to broaden academic horizons and to gain experience presenting in a professional setting. 
Guidelines for presentations can be found at this link and the abstract submission form and information can be found here. All abstracts will be due by 5p.m. EST on February 19, 2021. URD 2021 will take place on April 15, 2021. To keep up to date with the schedule and information, follow University Research Day on Instagram and Twitter @catholic_urd!

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