Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

What is GCURS?

We’re not your usual poster session. In fact, no posters are allowed! The Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium is hosted annually on the Rice University campus and provides students an opportunity to present their research to an audience of their peers. Students at GCURS give a 12-15 minute presentation and receive on-the-spot coaching from faculty mentors. GCURS is a forum for students in engineering and science fields to present their original research.

Applicants who have research experience or completed a significant course project are encouraged to apply to one (or more!) our 11 GCURS sections.

First hosted in 2008, we are proud to be one of the longest-running and most prestigious undergraduate research conferences in the United States, and each year we look forward to welcoming hundreds of students from around the world! Read more from past participants here.

In 2021, we are planning a hybrid event with in-person and virtual components.

When is GCURS?

In 2021, GCURS will be held Saturday Oct. 16 - Sunday Oct. 17. If you are coming from outside the Houston area, we generally recommend you arrive Friday evening to get a good night's rest before presenting on Saturday. Your section of participation may have additional activities for you to participate in on Friday.

In 2021, we are planning a hybrid event with in-person and virtual components.

Deadlines

The deadline to apply to GCURS is Sept. 13 at 10:59 PM CDT; accepted students should notify their section of their intent to present no later than Sept. 27, 2021. As deadlines are finalized, this page will be updated.

GCURS Sections

Sections hosting presenters this year can be found here.

How to apply

Applications for GCURS can be submitted at gcursapply.rice.edu. Students are able to apply to more than one section.

When evaluating the section(s) of GCURS you’ll apply to, you should not only look at the work you’ve done in the past, but the work you plan to do in the future. Are you planning on applying to graduate school? We’d encourage you to submit an application to a GCURS program that closely matches your intended graduate program. You’ll receive feedback from faculty who know the field inside and out. At GCURS, you’ll also connect with students who are currently living the grad school experience and can share what life at Rice - and life in grad school - is like.

Multiple Applications

Generally, students are able to apply to more than one GCURS section. A separate application is not required. You will have the option to select your first and second choice divisions on the GCURS application.

Experience

While research experience is encouraged, it is not required to apply. Students who have done a substantial course project who can show project development and outcomes are also encouraged to apply.

Levels of Study

All levels of study are welcome to apply - from first-year undergraduates through master's students, or recent graduate. Please note that specific sections may have further requirements.

Application Format

The application will open in late summer. To apply, you should have ready:

  • Your CV
  • Your abstract in the proper format (link will download)
  • Your research adviser's email address (and undergraduate adviser, if different)
  • A photo of yourself (optional; some sections include these in the abstract guide)

We encourage you to work with your adviser(s) through the application process!

Abstract Format

When uploading your abstract, please use the format requested below. Abstracts will be published exactly as received; please be sure to use the abstract template (link will download). It is critical that your abstract is received correctly and on time so that it can be included in the virtual symposium guide.

Preparing Abstracts:

The allotted space for an abstract is one page (approximately 600 words). Please use the abstract template found here.

  • Download the abstract template (you may need to do a “save as” to use the template format).
  • Complete the abstract as instructed.
  • Save as a Word document and PDF file.
  • Upload your abstract in the PDF format in the Registration site.

A PDF example of an abstract is attached here. If your abstract cannot be published, there is a place for you to indicate as such in the GCURS application.

CV Format

Tips for preparing an undergraduate CV can be found here.

Abstract Publication

If your abstract cannot be published, there is a place for you to indicate as such in the GCURS application. We ask that you still upload a version for the application process; this will not be published and will only be available to the faculty who will evaluate the applications.

Presentation Format

Each section will have specific time lengths for the presenters. Generally, most presentations will be approximately 10-15 minutes in length, however some sections may require a longer talk in a different format; e.g. Mathematics presenters should plan for a ~20 minute talk. After your presentation there may be questions for 2-5 minutes. Your section administrator will provide you with specific details about the presentation once you receive your acceptance. More information can be found here.

GCURS is unique in that our faculty serve as mentors, not judges. You’ll receive encouragement and feedback on your presentation!

Group presentations

Generally, presenting in pairs or groups is not acceptable. Please contact your section of interest for their guidance.

Symposium Times

Most sections will run 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., with a break for lunch. Some sections will be shorter, some will be longer. Your section administrator will keep you informed on the schedule for the day and the expectations for attendance.

COVID-19

In 2021, we are planning a hybrid event with in-person and virtual components. Your preference of attending in-person or virtually will be recorded on the application and taken into account when finalizing plans.

There will be additional guidelines to adhere to if you are accepted to present in-person. Details will be shared in late September.

Notification of Acceptance

Accepted students will be notified via email in late September. Accepted students should notify their section of their intent to present no later than Sept. 27, 2021.

Observing GCURS

Students who wish to attend to observe GCURS should send their request to their section of interest. Please know that requests are not automatically granted as space is limited.

Guests and Advisors

Requests to invite visitors and advisers should be directed to your section's contact. Sections that do accept guests typically require notification in advance. Visitors are requested to follow symposium etiquette, and we ask that they remain for the entire session. If a visitor does need to leave during a session, please have them wait until the presenter has finished delivering their presentation or the session is in between presentations before entering/leaving a session virtual room.

Travel Awards

Awards for lodging and travel costs are sometimes granted to qualified students coming from outside of the Houston area. Requests for travel awards can be made directly through the application. If a travel award is granted, details will be included in your acceptance letter.

Competition and Awards

Every presenter will be given feedback from Rice faculty, visiting faculty, and/or graduate students in their respective divisions and will cover the presenter’s research, visual aids, and presentation skills. Awards are given for excellence in research and clarity of delivery. Each division determines the awards independently. Honorees will receive awards by mail after GCURS concludes.

With this in mind, please know that GCURS was not designed to be competitive. The experience provides mentoring, networking and the ability to polish presentation skills!

Additional Questions

An FAQ regarding presentations, technical requirements and more can be found here. For further assistance, please contact your GCURS section administrator, or email gcurs@rice.edu.

Information for Presenters

Presentation Format

Each section will have specific time lengths for the presenters. Generally, most presentations will be approximately 10-15 minutes in length, however some sections may require a longer talk in a different format; e.g. Mathematics presenters should plan for a ~20 minute talk. After your presentation there may be questions for 2-5 minutes. Your section administrator will provide you with specific details about the presentation once you receive your acceptance. More information can be found here.

GCURS is unique in that our faculty serve as mentors, not judges. You’ll receive encouragement and feedback on your presentation!

GCURS Outline and Times

Recently, GCURS has been held as a two-day event. We recommend students arrive Friday afternoon or evening, in order to attend any section-specific events that may be planned and to get a good night's rest for Saturday.

The presentations will typically run 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, with a break for lunch. Some sections will be shorter, some will be longer. Your section administrator will keep you informed on the schedule for the day and the expectations for attendance. Most sections typically host a faculty keynote. The day typically concludes with a networking reception on the Rice campus, and some sections have additional activities following. Meals are provided on Saturday to those presenting on the Rice campus.

On Sunday, we plan for a series of talks directly related to graduate school and the grad school application process in the U.S. Breakfast will be provided. Shuttles will be provided for students who have been awarded lodging.

Presentation Resources

Be sure to let your research adviser and/or undergraduate adviser know you've been accepted. They can guide you on the format of your presentation. Then, practice makes perfect!

Rehearse your presentation. Ask family and friends to attend your practice sessions and give you feedback. Think about the questions you might have for your project and prepare answers for the GCURS Q&A section after your presentation. Most importantly, try not to be nervous! GCURS is a learning experience and a chance for you to practice and polish your presentation skills. Tips for presenting can be found here.

Guests

Guests may be permitted to attend at the discretion of your section. Please check with your section(s) for their permission, as well as any additional rules or guidelines.

Lodging & Roommates

If you were granted a GCURS travel award that includes lodging, you will stay at a hotel in the Texas Medical Center (typically the Marriott Texas Medical Center). NEW For 2021: lodging provided will be single rooms. Should you wish to request another participant as a roommate, please work with your section administrator.

Rice shuttles will be provided on Saturday morning to take participants and visiting advisors to the main campus. Your section coordinator will provide detailed information before the symposium. Participants who are presenting at the BioScience Research Collaborative (BRC) will walk to their destination. Parking will be available at the hotel, and is self-paid.

You are able to indicate that you would like to be considered for a travel award and lodging directly on the GCURS application.

Parking

Participants and advisors not staying at the hotel can park at the various visitors' lots on campus and at the BRC. Click the link to view the campus map - visitor parking is highlighted in yellow. Parking rates on campus vary. If you need help with parking, reach out to your section administrator for more information.

Meals

All meals will be provided during the GCURS symposium on Saturday. A continental breakfast is typically served during registration on Saturday. Participants will be notified of the time and location for breakfast and lunch by the section administrators. At the conclusion of the day, an interdisciplinary networking reception is typically held in the Grand Hall, Rice Memorial Center. In 2021, this reception may move to the Rice Graduate Student Commons. Heavy hors d'oeuvres will be served.

You will be given the opportunity to note dietary restrictions on the GCURS application.

More information on dining options near campus can be found here.

Presentation Locations

There are a number of locations utilized for presentations the day of GCURS. Your section administrator will provide you with that information before you arrive to campus.

The evening reception will be held in the Rice Graduate Student Commons.

Transportation

Getting to campus

The Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium will be held on the Rice University campus (6100 Main Street), Houston, Texas.

Rice University is located near William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) as well as Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). Driving directions to Rice, as well as tips on getting around Houston, can be found here.

Carpool

If you are interested in a carpool with other attendees, you will have the option to indicate your interest directly on the GCURS application. Please note that by signing up to receive carpool updates, you consent to share your information with other GCURS attendees. Your information will not be shared outside of the GCURS carpool group.

Shuttles

Shuttles from the hotel will be provided to GCURS for those who have received a travel award with lodging.

Listing GCURS on a resume

Here is a suggested idea on how to list GCURS participation on your C.V., both as a presenter and award winner:

Computational and Experimental Approaches to Network Discovery

Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium, BioSciences Division, Rice University, October 2021

with award:

Outstanding Presentation Award, Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium, Rice University, October 2021

Awards

Every presenter will be given feedback from Rice faculty, visiting faculty, and/or graduate students in their respective divisions and will cover the presenter’s research, visual aids, and presentation skills. Awards are given for excellence in research and clarity of delivery. Each division determines the awards independently. Honorees will receive awards by mail after GCURS concludes.

Additional Questions

For further assistance, please contact your GCURS section administrator, or email gcurs@rice.edu.