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Georgia Undergraduate Research Conference offers students opportunity to present research

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The University of North Georgia (UNG) will host the Georgia Undergraduate Research Conference in the Martha T. Nesbitt building Nov. 2 and 3 at UNG's Gainesville Campus. Students and faculty from the southeast region and beyond will present their research either orally on a panel, in a poster session or in a performance presentation.

Hannah Harris suffers from "horrible" stage fright. It's a fear the aspiring teacher wants to overcome.

So what did the University of North Georgia (UNG) junior majoring in middle grades education do? She signed up for a research project, forcing herself to present the idea three times during the Faculty Undergraduate Summer Engagement (FUSE) program.

"I had to be an expert on the topic and have professors and very educated people ask questions about my research," she said.

She spent 10 hours preparing for her first presentation with Dr. Gina Childers, assistant professor of middle grades and secondary education at UNG.

"Oh, it was horrible at first," Harris said, adding she has gained confidence during the following presentations. "It's been stressful but is such an amazing opportunity."

Now, she plans to do it again. She and Childers will present their research Nov. 2-3 at the Georgia Undergraduate Research Conference (GURC) in the Martha T. Nesbitt building on UNG's Gainesville Campus. UNG will host GURC for the next two years, with 2018 on the Gainesville Campus and 2019 on the Dahlonega Campus.

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UNG junior Hannah Harris and Dr. Gina Childers, assistant professor of middle grades and secondary education at UNG, work on a research project they plan to present at GURC.

"We are already starting to prepare for it," said Harris, a 19-year-old from Cumming, Georgia.

Harris and Childers will not be the only UNG students and faculty members presenting. Haley Shea Barfield, a senior double majoring in English and interdisciplinary studies with a focus on cognitive science, plans to present one of three research projects. In fact, Barfield has already presented at several regional, national and international conferences, but is looking forward to GURC.

"It's been on my to-do list," she said. "I hope to show what UNG has done to foster research and go beyond the classroom.

Dr. Anastasia Lin, assistant vice president for research and engagement, said UNG students and other college students and faculty members from the southeastern region and beyond may submit their research abstracts to UNG's Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities website by Sept. 21. Each will be reviewed for consideration for the conference and presenters will be selected and notified.

"GURC allows students and professors the opportunity to see the research others are conducting in our region," Lin said. "And presenting at a conference allows students to practice their soft skills such as team work, leadership and public speaking. These are skills that must be practiced in action."

Faculty and students will present their research either orally on a panel, in a poster session or in a performance presentation. During last year's GURC at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia, more than 100 oral and poster presentations were given, Lin said.

"We will also have a space for performing research projects," she said, explaining a student shared an original composition based on research at a previous conference. "I'd love to have a whole panel of performance pieces."

Barfield said that could happen if more creative writers present their projects, which she has seen first-hand at other conferences.

"It could be like a super open mic night with poetry readings and writings," she said.

GURC participants will hear the keynote speaker, Dr. Edward J. Coyle, on Saturday, Nov. 3. Coyle is the John B. Peatman distinguished professor at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, where he is the Arbutus Chair for the Integration of Research and Education. He is also the co-founder of Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) program, a program that supports and guides the involvement of undergraduate students in research across a wide range of disciplines and universities.

But it won't all be research panel discussions and poster presentations. On Friday, Nov. 2, UNG will host an opening reception, including games, social activities with door prizes, professional events and a chance to network with other students and faculty.

For more information or to submit your abstract by Sept. 21, visit the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities website.

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