For anyone needing an extra push to make it through the final few weeks of spring semester, UMBC’s annual Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day offers a healthy dose of extra energy and a contagious sense of curiosity. This year, the must-see, campus-wide event celebrates its 20th anniversary on April 27th with a diverse array of performances, film screenings, exhibits, posters, and talks.
“Creating a vibrant community of scholars is a major goal at UMBC, and URCAD is a realization of that goal,” says Diane Lee, vice provost and dean of undergraduate education.
“Undergraduates in every field share the knowledge they have gained,” Lee explains. “Beyond the talks and performances we all look forward to, through conducting and sharing their research and creative work, our students develop habits of mind that will serve them well in the future.”
Andreas Seas ’17, chemical engineering, agrees wholeheartedly. “Being involved in this research has really shaped what I want to do after I graduate from UMBC,” he says. “It has provided clarity as well as given me something that I can channel my passion into.”
Seas’s research focuses on risk factors for strain to femoral arteries, as part of a larger project in collaboration with the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). Seas’s experience at the medical center combined research and clinical work. He says, “Working with UNMC has definitely helped me focus in on what I am passionate about—improving patient care by developing more effective treatment techniques.”
This Goldwater Scholar still has one more year as an undergraduate researcher before pursuing an M.D./Ph.D. degree. For now, he encourages all of his classmates to attend URCAD if they can: “Not only is it really cool to see what everybody is doing, you never know what will spark your interest or what you can contribute to someone’s work.”
Nneka Opara ’16, psychology, began attending URCAD as a freshman. “It’s been a very inspirational event to attend every year and see the [work] students just like me are doing. It left me with the sense that I could achieve just as much as they were if I put my mind to it.”
For many UMBC students, who want to tackle tough questions that reach across different fields, URCAD is a chance to see up close what interdisciplinary research looks like and to learn about opportunities to do research that has real, positive outcomes.
Brittney Kramer ’16, English, shares that URCAD “is a way for all of the disciplines to come together and see what everyone is doing. It’s a way of showing how much research impacts every aspect of our lives.”
“A lot of times when you go into an English major, you think research is something [for science students],” Kramer says, “but this is a chance to really see how [all kinds of] research has an impact.” This includes Kramer’s own contributions to building a digital exhibit on women working in American textile mills during the nineteenth century, in collaboration with the American Antiquarian Society.
Filmmaker Paul Oh ’17, visual arts, describes URCAD as a helpful opportunity for creative students who want to begin connecting with audiences, but can’t yet access big festivals or performance opportunities. “It’s great that URCAD displays undergraduate work and allows people like myself…to exhibit their work for other students and peers,” he says.
Visit the URCAD website to access the brief event schedule and full schedule with abstracts, to learn about the featured speaker, or to see sneak peeks of select research projects. Guests can support participating students by asking them about their research during the event, and by sharing photos and messages on social media with #URCAD, #UMBC50, and #UMBCproud.
“Support is so important,” says URCAD presenter Austin Maduka ’17, biochemistry. “The support I received as an undergraduate pursuing my own research career has transformed my life,” he shares. For Maduka and his fellow student researchers, URCAD is a day to honor that transformation.