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Undergraduate Research Writing Conference is back in person this year

More than 300 papers were submitted for this year's Undergraduate Research Writing Conference, and 80 were selected to be presented.  – Photo by Scott Graham / Unsplash

Today, the Livingston Student Center will host the 10th annual Undergraduate Research Writing Conference (URWC), inviting students to showcase research projects that they have completed for their undergraduate courses.

Debra Keates, an assistant teaching professor in the English Department and co-chair of the URWC, said that this is the program’s first time back in-person after being online for two years.

Arete Bouhlas, an assistant teaching professor in the English Department and an instructor for the department’s Undergraduate Writing Program, said that URWC 2022 is similar to an annual capstone for the writing program.

She said that during the conference, students are ready to share the research they have accumulated with the Rutgers community and to establish a foundation for discussion on relevant topics.

Bouhlas said the conference allows students who have earned an "A" in one of the writing program’s research courses to submit a paper for the conference.

She said that after students submitted their papers for consideration, they were then vetted based on criteria such as depth of research, use of scholarly sources, analysis and exploration of argument and academic interest.

Keates said the papers were reviewed by a committee of student interns and faculty members, who read them multiple times to decide what papers will be presented at the conference.

She said that this year, the conference tied their record for number of submissions, receiving more than 300 papers. Out of these submissions, 80 were chosen to be presented.

The conference plans to have selected students give 10-minute presentations on their papers to panels, Keates said. Afterward, the room will open to questions from the audience.

“It is a really fantastic opportunity for students who have been doing this research mostly by themselves … to come and get a chance to talk about all this work that they have done,” she said. “A lot of these research projects are very practical. They are oriented toward solving problems that the students have identified and researched in the world around them.”

Bouhlas said the conference will consist of three-panel sessions of presentations, with each session consisting of five rooms with around three to five panelists in each.

Keates said that the issues the students are dealing with in their research this year are oriented toward the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and the issues that have arisen out of that. Other popular themes include sustainability and workplaces.

Lynda Dexheimer, the executive director of the English Department’s writing program, said that the event has grown exponentially over the past decade, allowing more students to act as presenters and engaging more with faculty, peers and administrators from the University, according to a press release. 

“Rutgers students do amazing projects. They give evidence of fantastic, practical thinking that's really worthy of respect,” Keates said. “So it is a really wonderful, happy and exciting moment for students to see what their peers can do.”

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