Meeting of Minds presents unique research opportunities

Amy Swanson, Staff Reporter

Time is running out to register or submit proposals for the Meeting of Minds Undergraduate Research Conference.

Held on May 12, this forum will give students the opportunity to showcase their undergraduate research and creative endeavors through oral or poster presentations.

The day begins at 8:30 a.m., when attendees have an hour to register and enjoy a continental breakfast before exploring different presentation sessions in South Foundation Hall. The sessions will cover everything from art history and French to nursing and physics.

During a break for lunch, the group will hear a student success story, where an alumnus or alumna speaker will share his or her professional journey since presenting at MOM. Sessions will continue into the afternoon.

This will be the conference’s 25th annual session and a collaboration between OU, the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the University of Michigan-Flint.

Robby Stewart, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and member of the conference’s planning committee, believes the greatest benefit of presenting can be found in the preparation.

“Many of the students who will be presenting have been engaged in independent research projects or extending class projects where the ultimate goal is to have a product that can be presented to others,” Stewart said. “Rather than simply turning in a project and having it evaluated by their instructor, these participants will have the opportunity to share the product of their labors with a wider audience.”

He said presenters gain practice in prepared and on-the-spot speaking skills regarding a subject that is meaningful to them.

Similarly, Anne Hitt, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the conference planning committee, said participating can help with interviews for jobs and graduate, medical or professional schools.

“In the past, my students have discovered they learn a great deal about their own work by listening to the comments made by others,” Stewart said.

Those who present are invited to publish their projects in this year’s volume of the Meeting of Minds Journal of Undergraduate Research.

The articles in this newly electronic journal highlight the work of students and their committed faculty mentors. It is specifically designed so students gain experience with the manuscript submission and review process.

Even if they aren’t presenting, undergraduates of all disciplines and majors are encouraged to attend, especially those looking to get involved in research.

“Many students are intimidated by the idea of research or feel that it is an undertaking for graduate students,” said committee member Beth Dawson, financial analyst for the College of Arts and Sciences. “We present a forum for students to share their creative endeavors with peers and faculty alike and hope to inspire younger students to partake in research of their own.”

With so many disciplines presented, Stewart also said it’s an opportunity to learn about something new.

“You can spend three minutes at a poster or 30 minutes, depending on how interested you are in the topic and how engaging the conversation might be,” he said. “If you are a knowledge nerd like me, MOM is a great day.”

Organizers recently opened up the conference to students and faculty from Oakland Community College, Henry Ford Community College, Mott Community College and Macomb Community College. The goal is to motivate these students to conduct their own undergraduate research upon admission to a university.

To submit a proposal (due March 10) and register, visit