Students in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences showcased their research projects in the Johnson Center during the third annual Undergraduate Research Symposium on Tuesday.

The majority of participants presented posters, but a handful of students gave oral presentations. All CHSS students who were involved in a research project that was supervised by a faculty member were eligible to participate in the symposium.

“The research symposium is definitely a highlight of the academic year for the college as we get to engage with students about their research and share in their enthusiasm,” said Jamie Cooper, associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs for CHSS and the College of Science.

An awards ceremony following the presentations recognized students in five categories: poster presentation, oral presentation, overall research and scholarship, project involving language and project involving information technology.

For most participants, the research process involved picking a topic, which was often suggested by a faculty member; collecting data, whether it was their own or came from previous studies; analyzing and drawing conclusions from the data; and suggesting how the findings could be used in the future. Project durations ranged from a month to over a year.

“I think being involved in a research project is something that not a lot of other undergraduates have the opportunity to experience, and I have loved every moment of the research process,” said senior psychology major Sarah Waldron, who was awarded Best Overall Research and Scholarship for her study on non-suicidal self-injurious behavior. “Research is such an important part of psychology as well as other fields for the advancement of knowledge and information.”

Bethny Scheuerman, a non-traditional individualized studies major, said she was not familiar with the CHSS symposium until one of her professors forwarded her an email about it last semester. Doubtful at first, Scheuerman decided to give it a try.

“[The symposium] is so heavily represented by psychology majors, I just thought nothing much would really come of it,” Scheuerman said.

For her study, Scheuerman investigated gender bias in court cases involving domestic abuse. The topic occurred to her while she was taking a women’s studies course and it was also one to which she could personally relate.

After numerous sleepless nights scouring LexisNexis and Google for relevant cases, analyzing the rulings and creating an effective poster, Scheuerman was ready to share her findings with others.

As someone who had previously never conducted a research project, Scheuerman said winning Best Poster Presentation took her by surprise.

“They were calling my name and I was standing there like an idiot,” Scheuerman said. “I was not expecting it at all.”

Even for students who were not recognized at the awards ceremony, the CHSS symposium was a gainful experience.

“I got to spend time talking to people about my study who seemed to be interested in research, and just getting positive feedback for something I had worked on for so long felt great,” said senior psychology major Philip Gibson, whose findings suggest use of nicotine can have a significant impact on behavioral preferences.