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IU Bloomington to host university-wide undergraduate research conference

Nov. 18, 2015

More than 100 students from seven IU campuses will make their way to IU Bloomington this week to showcase undergraduate research happening at the university. 

The 21st IU Undergraduate Research Conference takes place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at the Willkie Residence Center. The free event is open to students, faculty and staff. 

Daniel Charles Wavle presents his research

Daniel Charles Wavle, right, presents his research to professor Leah Shopkow during the poster session of the 2014 IU Undergraduate Research Conference. | Photo By JAMES BROSHER, IU COMMUNICATIONS

The daylong, interactive conference allows IU students from throughout the state to display poster presentations or deliver oral presentations about their faculty-mentored research projects. Students from IU Bloomington, IUPUI, Kokomo, IUPUC, Fort Wayne and IU Northwest will present 95 abstracts. Research topics vary from cyborgs and zombies, domestic robots, jazz, funk and hip-hop and microplastics.

“The IU Undergraduate Research Conference celebrates the excellent work of our students and impressive accomplishments that rise from collaboration on each campus,” said Dennis Groth, vice provost for undergraduate education. “I commend the student presenters and their faculty mentors on their dedication to research and creative activity, which play an integral role in the engaged undergraduate experience at Indiana University."

Bradi Heaberlin, a junior from IU Bloomington, is one of the students who will present her work on Wikipedia and the Knowledge Commons. Heaberlin is working with faculty mentor Simon DeDeo, an assistant professor in cognitive science in the School of Informatics and Computing who runs the Laboratory for Social Minds.

Their research focuses on social norms developed over time on Wikipedia -- a free, online encyclopedia written collaboratively by people who use it.

“We are trying to understand how these social norms develop, especially when you don’t have top-down authority,” Heaberlin said. “How are people governing themselves? Turns out, they are doing so, at least in part, by these social norms.”

Heaberlin, a member of the Hutton Honors College, began her work over the summer at the Sante Fe Institute where DeDeo also serves as a professor. When she came back to IU Bloomington this fall, she continued her work with DeDeo.

“Research is a way you can tie everything together -- your major, classes, clubs -- by pursuing a project that is uniquely yours or by working with someone with comparable interests,” said Heaberlin, who is double majoring in cognitive science and political science. “Through research, I’ve been able to tie in my cognitive and political science majors and it has really opened the door for me to talk to people about topics I’ve never been able to talk about before.” 

As for DeDeo, Heaberlin is the fourth undergraduate student he has worked with and the first who will present at the Undergraduate Research Conference.

“It is exciting to see a young scholar supported doing research I think is graduate level,” DeDeo said. “Supporting undergraduate research at this level is a very unusual thing to see at any university and one of the best things IU does.”

The Undergraduate Research Conference is co-sponsored by the University Graduate School, the Office of the Vice President for Research and by the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, which also provides modest scholarships to students in recognition of outstanding poster and oral presentations.

The conference aligns with several priorities in the university's Bicentennial Strategic Plan, including a commitment to student success and catalyzing research.

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