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Undergraduate Research Day Virtually Flourishes

By Jillian Holden 

The 15th Annual Undergraduate Research Day was hosted virtually for the first time September 29, 2020, showcasing the knowledge and talent of students with over 260 posters from 280 presenters across a wide range of majors and colleges at the University of Houston via ForagerOne’s Symposium platform.

Welcome remarks were given on Symposium by Stuart Long, associate dean of undergraduate research and the Honors College, and presenters were Provost Paula Myrick Short, Amr Elnashai, vice president for research and technology transfer, and Brittni MacLeod, associate director for the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards. 

“As Provost, I am delighted to see the outstanding rigor of the research and scholarship of our students,” Paula Myrick Short said. “Even from the challenges that we have faced this year, our students have come through and are presenting outstanding work here at Undergraduate Research Day.”

Participants included students from the 2019 and 2020 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program, the 2019 and 2020 Mellon Research Scholars Program, Provost's Undergraduate Research Scholarship (PURS) recipients, and others who conducted research under the guidance of University of Houston faculty during the past year and a half. 

“Despite the challenges that we have seen this year, the students at the University of Houston have, as usual, shown tremendous resilience and character,” Brittni MacLeod said, noting that although there were no live presentations this year, many students posted videos and all had a comment session open for questions and positive remarks. “I am incredibly proud to support the undergraduate research endeavors at this institution,” she said. 

Three students were specifically highlighted by Provost Short for their dedication and hard work. Shana Hardin, a spring 2020 PURS recipient who was mentored by Ling Zhu, was praised for her presentation titled, “Factors that Determine Women’s Electoral Success in Running for Congress,” that strove to understand why men still hold the majority of Congressional seats despite women’s increased political involvement. 

Vincent Laroche, mentored by Benjamin Rayder and Steven Vetts of the Technical University of Brunswick, presented his research: “Analyzing Bulk Solid Properties for Elongated Particles of Biomass and Recyclable Material.” Vincent is a Houston Scholar, a Spring 2020 PURS recipient, and a 2020 SURF Fellow. He presented a second poster with Di Yang titled, “Development of a flow visualization model using the transport tube method for application in vertical axis wind turbine analysis.” 

Ralph Metcalfe mentored Benjamin Diaz Villa, who is a member of the Houston Scholars, a Fall 2019 PURS recipient, a 2020 SURF Fellow. His project, “Numerical Study, a Rotating Disc, a low Reynolds Number,” focused on the noise pollution emitted due to the increase of drones. 

More than 2,200 people have visited the virtual event and over 1,000 comments have been made on students’ posters so far. “I have seen many of the projects, and they are just outstanding,” Amr Elnashai said. “Thank you for the tremendous effort and creativity you have shown in creating your projects.” 

Individuals who wish to view or comment on posters may visit The event site will be accessible through the fall 2020 semester. Please save the date for the next Undergraduate Research Day, which will take place virtually via Symposium beginning on April 1, 2021. If you have any questions or need to contact a presenter, please email Brittni MacLeod at