Upcoming annual InnovateUNO award showcases the best of UNO’s talent
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Every February since 2013, the University of New Orleans’ Undergraduate Research Council has organized InnovateUNO, a showcase of student projects involving creativity, research and/or scholarly work. Undergraduates in all academic disciplines are invited to submit work and the entire UNO community and public is invited to the showcase.
Presentations can vary from posters, oral, film, visual art and performances. Winners in each category are selected by judges comprised of faculty, staff and fellow students and are subsequently invited to present their work at the UL System Academic Summit.
Michelle Lepori, a 2016 Interdisciplinary Studies graduate with a focus on Language and Culture said, “I showed one piece of artwork, a square 2’x2’ painting done with encaustic, hot wax. I won first place which was a shock because there were so many stunning visual art entries.”
She continued, “I spent a month on that painting, hours every day and it was nice to be able to share my work with so many people and to talk about the process. In turn, I got to hear a lot of people’s own experiences with art and their life stories. That was a really cool and unexpected element to the experience.”
Coordinator of Undergraduate Research Elizabeth Sigler said, “This is such an important event for the university. It allows both students and faculty to share their work with the campus community. So often, we are caught up in our own work that we rarely get a chance to see what is happening in other departments on campus.”
Professor Kyeong Sam Min continually encourages his students to participate each year.
Sam Min said, “Research skills are often considered to be one of the key evaluation criteria in the graduate program admission process or job application process. Students’ research presentation at the InnovateUNO Research Showcase definitely helps them not only sharpen their communication skills, but also significantly improves their marketability for future career opportunities.”
He mentioned the obstacles some students have faced when it comes to InnovateUNO.
“Three years ago, I had a group of students in my Marketing Research class examining why consumers are attracted to Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte that is available only for the fall…they hesitated to participate in the InnovateUNO Research Showcase even though they had very interesting findings…It was their first time to conduct their own research so they had no idea how good their work was. In addition, they were afraid of going against students in other research intensive disciplines, including psychology, biology, chemistry, physics and other science areas.”
Despite the challenge, two of those students won the best poster prize among 25 poster presenters.
Sigler said, “The ability to present your work is no easy task. It is daunting to stand in front of your peers and discuss your work, but those students that have been involved with InnovateUNO come away with such a great experience, that further prepares them for life after graduation.”
She continued, “InnovateUNO is a critical piece for recruitment and retention, as well. Studies have shown that students who engage in undergraduate research efforts and participate in programs like InnovateUNO have a much higher retention and graduation rate.”
Lepori said, “I plan on applying to a competitive M.F.A. program, having InnovateUNO participation and a first place award on my application gives me a sense of confidence and accomplishment.”
“The program has benefited me in terms of well-being and comradery. I loved seeing all the different projects that students are working so hard on. There are a lot of passionate and inspired minds at UNO,” she continued.
This year’s InnovateUNO will be held Friday, Feb. 17 on the second floor of the University Center. Oral/film presentations will be held from 9 a.m. to around 12 p.m. After that, lunch will be provided to presenters, mentors and volunteers in the UC ballroom. Then poster and art presentations will be from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., followed by a reception and awards.
Any students planning to attend should be sure to go to the check-in table and vote for their favorite presentation, as a Privateer Choice Award and trophy will be awarded to the winner.