Undergraduate Research Conference – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Undergraduate Research Conference?
The Undergraduate Research Conference is an annual conference where UC Davis students present their individual research projects under the supervision of faculty sponsors or law/medical professionals. Students in all academic fields, including STEM majors, social science majors, and art majors who conducted independent research are welcome to show their work. The goal of the conference is to encourage undergraduate students to pursue higher degrees after undergraduate and to conduct research in their discipline.

When and where is the Undergraduate Research Conference?
The Undergraduate Research Conference usually happens towards the end of April every school year. This year, the 29th Undergraduate Research Conference of 2018, will be on Friday April 27th from 3-7 PM (ARC Pavilion) and Saturday April 28th from 1-4:30 PM (Wellman Hall). The poster session and art exhibition are at the ARC Pavilion, and the oral presentations are at Wellman Hall.

How can I show my work at the Undergraduate Research Conference?
If you are interested in participating as a presenter, make sure to talk to your faculty research supervisor early and submit your abstract in February. There are three types of presentation.
1. Poster Presentation: a 60 minute poster session will be assigned to each presenter. The posters will be shown at the ARC Pavilion, while presenters stand next to them to give short talks and answer questions. UC Davis Undergraduate Research Center provides free poster printing before the conference.
2. Oral Session: each presenter will have a 15 minute oral session to introduce the research, including their research interest, hypothesis, methods, and results. PowerPoint slides are often used.
3. Art exhibition: The art exhibits are in the same area as the poster presentations. The exhibition allows students to showcase their research results in the form of studio art, design and multimedia.

Do I have to present in the conference by myself? Can I do it with my research partner?
Most students did their own independent projects and thus presented by themselves. If you happen to have a research partner collaborating on the same project, you will be able to present with them. Both students will have to sign up for the conference and submit the same abstract. Usually the group is not larger than 2 or 3, since the main focus of the conference is independent research.

Why should I go to the Undergraduate Research Conference? I am not doing research now.
First of all, the Undergraduate Research Conference is free for everyone! Second, it is a great chance to see what other students are doing and ask questions. If you have never done research before but interested, it is a good chance to ask how the students doing independent research find faculty supervisors, decide on research topics, etc. Also, since this is the largest research conference for undergraduates in UC Davis, you will be able to see more than 500 groups presenting on campus all in two days.

How can I get involved in research?
UC Davis is a research university, and according to a 2016 report, more than 40% of undergraduate students have participated in some kind of research. Speaking from my own experience, I will say that it is never too early, yet never too late (of course, not on the last day of your last quarter) to get involve in research as an undergraduate student in UC Davis. For first year students, many professors are willing to train younger students because they can stay in the research lab for longer. For upperclassmen, you already have background knowledge in the field and maybe know some laboratory techniques, so make use of that knowledge. You will be able to ask more in depth questions and get the grasp more quickly in research labs.
I advise that students interested in research can start by looking at profiles of UC Davis professors, and email the professors who do research topics that you are interested in. Express your interest towards the field, and ask if they have undergraduate researcher openings in their labs.
You can also looking for laboratory jobs and opportunities on Aggie Job Link, the Undergraduate Research Center (URC), and the Internship and Career Center (ICC). Sign up for the listserve of URC and ICC to receive weekly emails about new position openings. Read more about getting involved in research in “What Undergraduate Research Can Do For You“.

Wide photo of poster sessions on the floor of the ARC Pavilion showing many presenters, posters and participants with art exhibits in the backA picture of the Undergraduate Research Conference. (https://urc.ucdavis.edu/conference/)

Linya Hu
BASC Peer Advisor
3rd year, Genetics & Genomics Major

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Why UC Davis?

When I was admitted into UC Davis in 2015 as a Genetics and Genomics major, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew no much more than it was one of the top schools in California with the nation’s best animal science program. Besides, I went to high school in Taiwan, so I never had a chance to tour the campus before the actual orientation. My first impression of UC Davis was that it was a huge school with a flat landscape and bikes everywhere. It reminded me of a huge city park in Taipei (the bikes, squirrels, trees, and grass areas).quad.jpg
Now in my junior year, I will say that I really enjoy my experience in UC Davis. I love the place, the people, and my major. There are many opportunities in UC Davis to explore your passion and to develop yourself professionally and spiritually. Although there were definitely hard times in college, I was able to make through with the support of friends and community.
Here are some things that I love about UC Davis:

Nature 

– There are many animals on campus. One night, I saw an owl standing on my path when I was walking back to the dorms. My favorite animals are the cows next to Tercero and the lamas at the Vet Med Teaching Hospital.

– When I am tired from school and studying, the Arboretum is a great place to walk around and relax.
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– Enjoy stargazing in summer nights when the air is dry. (It is very safe to stay on campus at night. If you have late classes, Safe Ride can bring you home – on campus or off campus).

Academics and Career

– Besides classrooms equipped with visual and audio learning devices, UC Davis has one of the best plant facilities and animal facilities. Students can also spend a quarter or a summer to take marine biology courses at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory.

– UC Davis has a Health Professions Advising Center (HPA) for all pre-health students. I cannot count how many times I went there for creating timeline, for discovering internships, and for writing a personal statement. The advisors are all very welcoming and knowledgeable. Besides HPA, the Internship and Career Center is also a place that I visited a lot to get my resume reviewed. I also signed up for their email listserve to get weekly updates on new job and internship opportunities.

– UC Davis Medical Center has 8+ affiliated student run clinics. Undergraduate students can volunteer in the clinics, shadow doctors, and gain hands on health care experience. This is a very unique opportunity that not many other universities have. Currently, I am involved in Paul Home Asian Clinic, which provides health care mainly to underserved Asian community in Sacramento. By translating and accompanying the patients, I learned more about the health care barriers they faced, and how doctors could help them achieve better heath. Health Related Internships are also offered in the UC Davis Medical Center and Sutter Davis Hospital. The sign up for those internships is very simple, and there are always spots available every quarter.

– UC Davis is a research university. We have an Undergraduate Research Center, and an annual undergraduate research conference every April where students present their research projects. Many students in UC Davis participate in some kind of research, and I’m sure there will be something interesting for you!

Diversity and Involvement

– Joining a student organization definitely made my time in UC Davis much more fun. There are more than 800 student clubs on campus, and you can even found your own club.
– Check out Picnic Day and Whole Earth Festival in spring! I can’t even explain how much I love those events. You will have to experience the energy and enthusiasm yourself. As a student in UC Davis, you have the chance to take a step further and apply to be volunteers or even directors of these campus-wide events. At the Picnic Day of 2017, I volunteered at the chick petting room, and it was the one of the best days I had in UC Davis.

picnic chic.jpg   picnic day
– Discover something fun and unique for you! I joined the Global Ambassador Mentorship Program as a peer mentor in my second year. As a peer mentor, I worked with a group of 5 international students, guiding them in their first few quarters in Davis. In the three quarters I got to meet with so many amazing people from different backgrounds, and we still kept each other in contact until now. Here’s a picture of us at the Thanksgiving Dinner gathering in 2016.

GA thanksgiving

After all, congratulations on being accepted to UC Davis! Become an Aggie, and you will love it!

Linya Hu
BASC Peer Advisor
3rd year, Genetics & Genomics Major

My Core Class Experience in the College of Biological Sciences (First and Second Year)

For all majors in the College of Biological Science, there are some common preparatory major core classes that all students in CBS are required to take in the first two years of college. Regardless of your major, you will have to take calculus, chemistry, biology, physics, and statistics. These classes are important because they provide fundamental knowledge in the field of biological sciences. Before you start in-depth major classes, mastery in core classes gives you the essential tool kit.

I am currently a third year Genetics and Genomics major. In this blog post, I will talk about some core classes I took and my experiences in them.

MAT21AB: Calculus

Usually students in College of Biological Sciences take MAT17ABC to fulfill the math requirement. MAT17 is a year-long calculus class designed for biology students, featuring calculus applications in biology topics. MAT21AB, the first two classes of the MAT21 series, is an alternative option. Honestly, I chose to take MAT21A and MAT21B in my first year because I wanted to finish calculus in two quarters instead of three (which might not work for everyone). The two classes focused more on principles and theories, including solving proof questions and calculus equations. I took a light workload along with MAT21A and MAT21B, since I did not have much background in calculus.

mat

The Calculus Room is a great place to get academic help besides the Student Academic Success Center and the Residence Hall tutoring hours.

BIS2ABC: Introduction to Biology

I really enjoyed the BIS2 series because the series includes everything from micro to macro. BIS2A is about cell organelles, photosynthesis, chemical bonds, and properties of bio-molecules. BIS2B is an introduction to ecology, evolution, and biodiversity. BIS2C focuses on phylogenies, the five kingdoms, and life cycles of fungus/plants/animals. Note that BIS2A and BIS2B can be taken in either sequence, but BIS2C has to be taken after BIS2B. In addition, it is recommended for students without a strong chemistry background to start with BIS2B.

Capture(My BIS2C study notes for the final)

CHE2ABC: General Chemistry

CHE2 lectures are always in big lecture halls with hundreds of people. It is one of the most commonly taken classes for first year students, since many majors have chemistry as a requirement. CHE2 series provided me a solid background in chemistry, which helped a lot in my upper division biochemistry classes. I also learned to use the titration apparatus, the pH meter, and other cool equipment in the labs. An alternative option for general chemistry is the CHE3 series (“Integrated General and Organic Chemistry intended for majors in the life sciences”), which incorporates water-based reactions and some organic chemistry. CHE3 is a relative new course, and only certain biology related majors accept it for major requirement. If you plan to switch majors, take CHE2 series for more flexibility!

Image result for titration memesGet ready for General Chemistry with your lab coat, goggles, and carbon notebook:)

CHE118ABC: Organic Chemistry for Health and Life Sciences

Students in the college can choose to take either CHE118 (a three quarter series) or CHE8 (a two quarter series). I took CHE118, since a year of organic chemistry is required for many medical schools. I personally think that organic chemistry (especially CHE118B) is one of the most difficult classes I have taken in UC Davis. The class is all about understanding how electrons transfer between molecules and memorizing different reaction mechanisms. It is like putting together pieces of a puzzle to get a full picture of chemistry – this class will definitely change your view of the subject on a molecular level. After all, organic chemistry is very different from general chemistry, since no calculation skills are required for the class. You might enjoy the class even if you are not a fan of gen chem!

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Image result for aldol condensation

PHY7ABC: General Physics 

In PHY7 series, students spend 5 hours in Discussion Labs (DLs) and 1 hour in lecture every week. Most of the learning will happen in the discussion labs with your small group of classmates and TA. In the DLs, we did short experiments and discussed about the results with our small group. In PHY7A, I was tired with having two 2.5 hour labs every week, but as I moved towards 7B, and then 7C, I felt that the DLs gave me a better understanding on the lecture topics. I learned the best by solving questions, so the DLs matched with my learning style after I got used to it. Topics in PHY7 include: chemical bond energies and thermodynamics (7A), Newton’s Laws and circuits (7B), mirror/optical lenses and electromagnetic forces (7C).

STA100: Applied Statistics for Biological Sciences

STA100 is a very informative class, in which students are taught to analyze biology data with the statistics program R studio. In the first two weeks of class, the professor went over basic statistics including calculating the mean, medium, and standard deviation. Later, we learned more advanced concepts such as p values and the ANOVA table. There were two group projects in the quarter. We had to process a given data set (in my class it was about diabetes population) with methods learned in class and wrote two four-page reports. A few quarters after STA100, I joined a fish ecomorphology research, and our project was heavily based on data analysis. Thus, I really appreciated learning about R Studio in the class.

sta100

Linya Hu
BASC Peer Advisor
Third Year, Genetics and Genomics Major

Globalized Campus: Peer Advice to International Students

Do you know, out of the 37,398 students enrolled in UC Davis in Fall 2016, 11.73% are international students? (As sciency as I am, I did the math – this is 4387 students!)

College is a great time to explore and experience. UC Davis not only provides great academic programs, but also creates a rich globalized environment where students can meet people from different cultures and nationality backgrounds.

The students in the official statistics above are F-1 or J-1 visa holding students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents. They either study at UC Davis for a full four-year degree, for short term exchange, or for language programs. However, some students who had their entire education before college in another country, or moved around several countries, will also self identify as international students even if they are U.S. citizens.

For all the official and self-identified international students, know that you do have support from the College of Biological Sciences and that you are not experiencing the transitions alone. Here are some advice from a third year international student peer to anyone who has moved to UCD from far away:

  1. Reflect: What to gain from the UC Davis experience?

    As an international student, the first thing you will want to consider is, what do you want to gain from this study abroad experience? The earlier you identify your goal, the more time you can work on it and the more experience you can gain. Everyone has their own unique goal at UC Davis. If you want to immerse in American culture, join clubs and go to events. If you wish to improve on public speaking, take classes and do related internships. If you want to do research, start looking for opportunities in research labs. There are so many things you can do to design your own study abroad experience. Enjoy the best time of life!

  2. Be Open-minded

    Culture is an essential piece embedded in personal values and social structures. You may be aware of some cultural differences beforehand, but unexpected culture shock moments can happen. Be flexible when you experience unfamiliar situations, and be open to try new things (a food, an activity, or a GE class). Look at cultural differences as part of your UC Davis learning and don’t limit yourself!

  3. Academics/student status

    As you already know, UC Davis is in the quarter system, which is different from many other schools. Time can go by really fast on a quarter system, and by the time you know, it is already the first midterm! Remember to attend classes and utilize office hours/tutoring sessions to clarify any questions. As an international student, it is also very important to maintain full time status by taking at least 12 units every quarter. Other than that, remember to reach minimum progress every year, which is an average of 13 units per quarter. Read more about good academic standing on the UC Davis Office of the University Registrar page and visit the Services for International Students and Scholars if you have concerns related to your visa status.

  4. Finding Support

    UC Davis is a big campus, space-wise and population-wise, but you can definitely build your own sense of community. Professors and advisors are more than happy to help international students with questions related to academics and non-academics. The International center, Cross Culture Center, and the Student Health and Counseling Services are also great resources to seek help. Most importantly, be open to making new friends, and remember to stay in contact with family and your old pals. Don’t hesitate to reach out to other people for support!

Linya Hu
BASC Peer Advisor
Third Year, Genetics and Genomics Major