The University of New Orleans’ eighth annual InnovateUNO wrapped up Thursday with an awards ceremony recognizing the winners of the research and creative symposium. The first and fourth floor of the Earl K. Long Library was the center for the showcase in which students presented their independent research, scholarly or creative activities to the campus community.
Over the course of the three-day event, 415 presenters, co-presenters, and collaborators delivered 237 oral, poster, art, theater, music, and film presentations. Presenters included UNO students, faculty and staff from every discipline and area high school students engaged with UNO programs.
“This was our biggest InnovateUNO, with a 30% increase in presentations compared to last year,” said Matthew Tarr, vice president for research and economic development. “We saw participation from across disciplines and effectively involved our entire campus community as well as high school students, alumni and business partners.”
The presentations were evaluated by 63 judges including UNO faculty, staff, graduate students, alumni and business partners. More than 20 volunteers and room moderators staffed the event.
“The impact UNO has on its undergraduate students through engagement in research, scholarship and creative activities was more evident than ever,” Tarr said. “UNO’s impact on the regional, national and international communities was also clearly demonstrated.”
Kelli Nini, a senior psychology major and presenter, applauded the University for providing the opportunity to showcase her research involving children diagnosed with 22q deletion syndrome, a multi-systemic disorder that includes cognitive disabilities and psychological problems.
“I’m very grateful. This is a line on my CV,” said Nini, who wants to pursue a career as a clinical psychologist. “This is something that will set me apart from other students when I apply for grad school. It’s been fascinating.”
On the other side of the Learning Commons, fellow psychology major Deyon White showed off his research on the relationship between taste and color perception. It was White’s first time being a presenter, he said.
“I was kind of nervous when people started coming from one direction to the next,” White said with a laugh. “I had to take in mind that I did this research, that it was mine and I’m OK with it. And to be OK with saying ‘I don’t know,’ because I don’t know everything.”
More high school students participated in InnovateUNO this year than any previous year, thanks to programs run through UNO TRIO and the UNO PrivatEEL Robotics Summer Camp, sponsored by the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing, Tarr said.
This year, Louisiana Sea Grant also hosted a Coastal Connections Competition open to graduate students from UNO and Tulane University. Eleven students from a broad range of disciplines presented on coastal issues.
Alahna Moore, a UNO planning and urban studies graduate student, was one of two presenters awarded a $500 travel grant.
Moore is creating a publicly accessible GIS map and a calendar that lists government meetings that involve decisions on coastal issues. The public will be able to add events to the calendar and upload their own pictures and maps to help document changes along the state’s coastline, Moore said.
The best-ranked presentations were awarded a total of $3,800 by the Office of Research and the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust. Both undergraduate and graduate students were awarded prizes.
Undergraduate students who ranked in the top five presentations within their categories will be invited to present at the University of Louisiana System’s annual Academic Summit, held in the spring at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La. The first-place presenters will be invited to present at the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at Montana State University in Bozeman.