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The second annual SoCon Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF) will take place Oct. 27-29, 2017, on the campus of Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. As many as 150 students, faculty and staff are expected to participate in the three-day event.
In addition to the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, research presented at SURF will include the arts and humanities. There will be no registration fee and no cost to participating students. Bill Kwochka, associate professor of organic chemistry at Western Carolina University, has chaired the subcommittee organizing SURF since the concept was first developed in 2015.
“This event is particularly designed for sophomores and juniors who may not have extensive experience in presenting research,” Southern Conference Commissioner John Iamarino said. “SURF will give these students a chance to become comfortable at presenting their projects and provide them greater opportunities to participate in regional and national symposiums.”
Last year, approximately 100 students participated in the inaugural SURF, which was the first such research forum conducted in the history of the conference. Presentations included posters highlighting various research in the STEM disciplines; a musician who transcribed a 1940s orchestra piece into a piano duet; and a student who read the first chapter of her fictional account of life in rural Mississippi for two young children of different races.
SURF is a byproduct of the Southern Conference Academic Exchange, an initiative started in 2014 by the 10 member institutions to work collaboratively on academic-related matters. Led by the chief academic officers, the Exchange has already operated SURF, a leadership development program for faculty and staff (LEAD), and is exploring shared international study programs. The Exchange has also resulted in the creation of annual faculty and staff awards, as well as the Pinnacle Award. The latter recognizes the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average on each of the 22 SoCon championship-winning teams.
“SURF is a great example of how Southern Conference members can work together outside the field of athletic competition,” Iamarino said. “It has been gratifying to see the support provided by our presidents, chancellors and provosts to making these efforts work.”
Stacey Hettes, associate provost for faculty development at Wofford, will once again be the primary on-site liaison for SURF. The Southern Conference office will assist with the logistics of the forum, arranging catering by Ingles Markets, providing gifts for participants and coordinating registration for all attendees.
Students interested in participating in SURF should contact their academic advisors on campus. Links to the application process also will be provided on the Southern Conference's Academic Exchange page on its website.