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21st National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCURŪ)
I have a lot of good things to say about the 21st National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR®), held at Dominican University of California, April 12-14, 2007. The physics presence at the meeting was stronger than I expected. The level of research for the posters and presentations varied, like at any other society meeting. There were less involved students and the stronger ones. The students I talked to were mostly seniors. There were a few juniors presenting as well.
I met a few physics faculty who had accompanied their students. I felt that the environment of the meeting was more relaxed because it was focused on students and so many of us were there. I didn't have much free time while I was at Dominican, running around between poster sessions and talks. Students were encouraged to attend sessions outside their field as well. It was difficult to choose between the many topics... philosophy, music, French, English, and mathematical sciences. I found this to be one of the highlights of the week. Sometimes one can get overwhelmed at a large physics meeting. But this meeting offered a "break". I loved looking in my book and selecting talks to attend based on their topics. Physics students can also look at the level of research done by other students outside of science and gain exposure to different research methods.
The two plenary speakers that I heard were very encouraging. Both Millie Hughes-Fulford and Dale Bredesen stressed the importance of research in undergraduate school and beyond. They offered some good insight.
I spoke to Janet Stocks and Bob Yearout about establishing an award, getting physics students to publish in JURP, and having a bigger SPS presence at the future meetings, and they seemed very enthusiastic about working with SPS on these issues.
I think that the "scouting" was a success. I was very impressed with the meeting, the number of students there, and the work of the board. I am a strong advocate of sending more people to the meeting next year.