North Texas Daily

Big bucks up for grabs on Scholar’s Day

Big bucks up for grabs on Scholar’s Day

April 16
10:37 2014

Joshua Knopp // Senior Staff Writer 

More than 200 undergraduate students will present papers and posters from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Gateway Center for UNT’s 10th annual Scholar’s Day.

Eighteen presenters will receive a combined $5,850 in prizes and the ability to apply for an additional $500 each in travel funds to attend a regional, national or international meeting to present their research. This is the largest amount of students the event has ever hosted, Honors College associate dean Susan Eve said. The previous high was 155.

Prizes are divided by papers and posters, and then further split into three divisions – one for natural sciences such as math and engineering, one for social sciences such as business and education, and a third for humanities.

A panel will select a first- through third-place winners in each division. Poster winners will receive $150, $250 and $350 prizes and paper winners will receive $300, $400 and $500 awards.

Honors college professor Rafael Major teaches a course about how to present posters and organizes the group who will determine prizes. He said the papers get more money because their presentations are considered more involved. Both categories will be judged by experts from all three fields.

Major said the papers would be judged on obvious grammar errors as well as their content. The posters will be judged by their ability to convey information quickly and accurately, as well as their content.

“The purpose of the poster, you can kind of shop around and see what you’re interested in,” he said. “It’s been in popular demand in natural sciences for years, but in recent years people in arts and humanities have been using them more. The posters have become an art form in themselves.”

Major said even if students don’t apply for awards, Scholar’s Day presentations still show up well on a resume, particularly with graduate schools wanting students who already have research experience.

For faculty like linguistics professor Ivy Doak, who has seven students presenting this year, it’s a way for students to gain that important experience.

“The students’ work is essential not only for the course, but as very practical experience in preparation for professional work in the future,” she said. “The capstone class prepares the students for professional presentations, and Scholar’s Day provides them a unique venue to do so, one that is very similar to the research conferences of professional societies.”

For student presenters like psychology senior Alexandra Ruuska, it’s a way to show the world something they’ve spent a significant amount of time on. She took three diverse lifestyles – binge drinking, honors college membership and gender – and researched whether they are predictors of alcohol problems.

Her presentation will show binge drinking and being female put people more at risk, while participation in a honors college lessened it.

“It’s a topic that I’ve been thinking about for a 20th of my life,” she said. “I’m just excited to talk about it.”

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