Undergraduate Research Fair and Exhibition goes virtual

students at the 2019 research fair presenting their project

Participants at last year's Undergraduate Research Fair and Exhibition pose for a photo next to their project poster during the judgement portion of the event. This year, Penn State Scranton will hold is research fair virtually -- giving students an opportunity to still showcase their projects under current stay-at-home restrictions due to COVID-19.

Credit: Amy Gruzesky

Penn State Scranton is not letting COVID-19 and the state mandated stay-at-home order stop its annual Undergraduate Research Fair and ExhibitionInstead, the research fair will be conducted virtually, and be accessible online for a full week.

The new dates for the fair, now titled the Undergraduate Research Web Showcase, will be April 15 through 23.

Considering the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19, our priority is the safety of students, faculty, staff and all participants, said Jiyoung Jung, assistant professor of chemistry and the undergraduate research coordinator for this year’s event.

“I am glad that the committee decided to move forward with the Undergraduate Research Web Showcase rather than canceling the research fair. This decision is also to address the strong desire from students who still want to participate in the research fair," Jung added.

"By holding the event virtually, we not only ensure the safety of participants, but also provide an opportunity for students to present their work to broad audiences."

-- Jiyoung Jung, assistant professor of chemistry 

"I should emphasize that the IT [department] offered very strong support on this plan, and we cannot imagine a successful event without their help. So, we all are excited to have the 2020 Undergraduate Research Web Showcase at Penn State Scranton.”

And, in an interesting twist, this year’s event has attracted even more participants than last year. According to Jung, there were 42 posters and nine oral presentations entered into the 2019 event; this year, there are 74 posters and six oral presentations.

The usual format for the research fair has been temporarily changed for the web showcase and is now only accepting two types of projects:

  • Poster Projects
  • Oral Presentations

“This is another point that I would like to emphasize. The presentation will be available on the event website for one week to all audiences,” Jung said“During the event, all students’ projects will be posted online which everyone has access to. Therefore, I believe more audiences can appreciate those projects online and provide valuable feedback. Moreover, it is a very good opportunity for our campus to give a positive reputation to our community in the middle of a current disruptive environment.”

Students had to register and submit their abstracts for poster projects and oral presentations by March 2 and PowerPoint slides of their research posters by March 31. 

The oral presentations will be held via video conference using Zoom for students to present their projects. The exact time of the presentations will be determined and announced by April 15

“In fact, many students have limited access to resources, as everyone is working remotely at this moment. So, there will be a slightly smaller number of students’ projects compared to last year. But to our surprise, I realized that there are still many poster projects and oral presentations registered,” Jung said.

She added that, unfortunately, students were unable to submit projects in the Art and Creative category this year due to limited access to complete their art projects due to the remote learning environment.

Hopefully, more art projects will be prepared during next semester and many students will present more of their work in the next year event, she said.

Winners of the poster and oral presentations will be announced on April 23.

For more information on the Undergraduate Research Web Showcase, contact Dr. Jiyoung Jung at [email protected]