SURF Day celebrates students’ successes

Multimedia Reporting by Ginna Royalty

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Clare Shaffer presents her undergraduate research during the poster session in the Great Hall. Photo by Royalty

Some students spend days off of school sleeping in, watching Netflix or catching up on work. But over 250 students spent Tuesday presenting their research for the Spring Undergraduate Research Forum. SURF Day is an annual forum to showcase student and faculty’s hard work and research and has been a tradition for 24 years.

“There’s great value in being part of an intellectual community,” said Paul Miller, assistant provost for communications and operations and is also closing out his tenure as director of undergraduate research at Elon. “It gives us an opportunity to display the expanse of things that are happening on campus. I think it cements the value of the mentor experience.”

Students from all majors presented researched throughout the day with poster presentations in the Great Hall and oral presentations in Moseley and the Center for the Arts. Some students gave 20-minute oral presentations with time at the end for questions from students, faculty or staff.

“SURF day is beneficial for both presenters and students,” said Clare Shaffer, junior. “Presenters are able to receive affirmation from their peers and faculty that those long days in the lab were worth it, and students at Elon are able to learn things from their peers and perhaps become inspired themselves to pursue research in their own area of interest.”

Each year, about 150 faculty members review abstracts submitted for SURF day. The student presenters choose three reviewers who read each abstract and then they provide feedback for the SURF chair, advisory committee and the director of undergraduate research to aid their decisions in which abstracts will be accepted for presentation.

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Bridget Smith presents her research after two and half years of work. Photo submitted by Smith

“The opportunity to do undergraduate research through the Fellows program was actually the main reason I came to Elon,” said Bridget Smith, senior. “I believe that research is super important for Elon students because it allows you to learn so much more than you can in any given class. It’s also the perfect opportunity to really apply what you’ve learned and allows you to build strong relationships with faculty members, which is incredible.”

“I believe that research is super important for Elon students because it allows you to learn so much more than you can in any given class. It’s also the perfect opportunity to really apply what you’ve learned and allows you to build strong relationships with faculty members, which is incredible.”

Shaffer started to do research because she wanted to start being able to answer some of the “big” questions that she would find herself thinking about during her classes. “Research at Elon gave me the autonomy to be creative in my design and craft an experiment that aimed to try to start to examine those big questions.”