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Online conference allows student research to SOAR

OUR UNF Research Week

Difficult situations inspire creative solutions. When the spread of coronavirus suddenly made face-to-face presentations at the 2020 SOARS — the Showcase of Osprey Achievements in Research and Scholarship — conference impossible, Dr. Karen Cousins, the director of UNF’s Office of Undergraduate Research, and a team from the Center for Instruction and Research Technology developed an impressive website solution: a virtual conference that can be accessed safely by online visitors everywhere.

The official SOARS website opened to the public on Wednesday, April 8. All undergraduate and graduate student research posters are now available online complete with embedded audio files and options to submit questions and/or comments. The move to an online outlet not only kept students and SOARS attendees safe and in keeping with proper social distancing procedures, but it gave presenters a “best-case scenario” to present their research posters to an even larger audience than before.

Over a four-day period after the SOARS 2020 upload deadline, 136 student abstracts were reviewed by the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR). Projects of Merit and Staff Picks were awarded to project abstracts based upon clarity, organization, innovation, and more.

For awards given to individuals for their outstanding work, the title of Undergraduate Researcher of the Year was bestowed to Caroline Howard, a sociology major and interdisciplinary minor with a demography focus, and the award for Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year was given to Dr. Bryan Knuckley, Department of Chemistry associate professor and chair. Congratulations to this year’s winners!

To view the full list of presentations and award winners, visit the 2020 SOARS Virtual Conference website.