On Oct. 31, Rice University will once again host the Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium (GCURS). Open to undergraduate researchers worldwide, the symposium welcomes over 300 students annually from a wide range of science and engineering fields.
Accepted students are invited to give a 10-12 minute talk on their research, and receive mentoring from faculty and graduate students. Joseph Krause, a recent graduate of Virginia Tech, participated in 2017 and called the event “life-changing.”
“I had an awesome experience,” Krause said, “and the mentoring I received from faculty was incredible. The faculty took time after each talk to give constructive feedback. As a researcher in general, it’s important to be able to do great work but conveying it well is the most important thing, and they really helped us with that.”
Savannah Cofer, undergraduate in mechanical engineering who also participated in 2017, agreed. “GCURS forces you to formulate your data and your work,” she said, “to explain it to someone who may not be directly in your field. You learn to talk about what you’ve done, what parts of it are unique and may be of interest to others.”
Started in 2009, GCURS seeks to provide an outlet for undergraduate students to exchange ideas, learn about different areas of research, and gain confidence and experience in presenting their own work to a group of their peers. Since the initial event the symposium has grown exponentially each year, and last year welcomed over 350 students.
“GCURS was a lot of fun,” Cofer said. “I really enjoyed hearing about other students’ research, and it’s a good experience to talk about your own work.”
Krause said he appreciated the chance to explore Houston, which is the most diverse city in the United States and the fourth-largest. Houston is also home to the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world.
“Some of the other presenters and I took the train to downtown and had dinner,” he said. “We went on a campus tour, and stayed right next to the med center. It was great to be able to see the city.”
Krause, who will begin graduate study in materials science at Rice in the fall, said the best part of the day for him was meeting and interacting with faculty on a personal level.
“I think I met almost every faculty member in the department that day and they really gave me an idea of the breadth of materials science, as well as the subject matter I want to study in grad school.”
Applications will open in late spring. Depending on the section of interest, limited travel awards are available. Advisers are welcome and are encouraged to attend.