NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center


Search News Center Articles





NMSU Honors College hosts research and creative arts symposium

The New Mexico State University Honors College is hosting the 21st annual Undergraduate Research and Creative Arts Symposium Friday, April 29. Open to the public, URCAS is from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Corbett Center Student Union ballrooms on the third floor.


Blond man with headphones in foreground; fish auction in background
Ryan Kirby and 11 other Sundt Honors Seminar course students studied climate change in Hawaii over spring break. Kirby is pictured here at the Honolulu Fish Auction. His group?s URCAS presentation will focus on socioeconomics, specifically, how climate change affects the financial stability of a place like Hawaii. (Courtesy photo)
Close-up image of a spider
Sara Kelley?s and Kevin Perez?s URCAS presentation will explain the biodiversity of arachnids in the Nutt Grasslands of New Mexico and whether solar facilities have an effect on the ecology of arachnids. (Courtesy photo)
Colorful URCAS logo
Students in the Art 355 Special Topics in Design honors class designed the artwork for the Undergraduate Research and Creative Arts Symposium. Winners of the 2016 URCAS art design contest include Kathryn-Mae Eiland, Jessica Lopez, Daisy Martinez, Hector Sarellano and Miguel Valle. (Courtesy image)

Undergraduate honors students will display their research projects on large poster exhibits and will also read from their written reports. The poster displays will include summaries of the students? data, research methods, analysis and results.

Honors College Dean Miriam Chaiken said participation in URCAS is beneficial to students for several reasons. Not only does the symposium provide undergraduate students with valuable professional experience, but it recognizes their research and creative projects.

?It?s also a great resume builder, particularly for those who are sophomores and juniors who are possibly thinking ahead to a graduate school in another year or so,? Chaiken said.

Nearly 100 students will present their work at this year?s URCAS, including 12 students who studied various aspects of climate change in Hawaii during spring break. The 12 students are enrolled in the Sundt Honors Seminar course with NMSU Biology Regents Professor Michele Nishiguchi.

The Sundt Seminar students were divided into four groups, and each group focused on a different topic. Topics included natural resources, coral health, sustainable businesses and socioeconomics.

?Our group had two main goals for our presentation at URCAS,? said Sundt Seminar student Jacqueline Kieltyka. ?The first goal was to synthesize all the information we obtained in Hawaii, including the perspectives from the fishpond, the perspectives from the fisheries and the perspectives from NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) and tie that all together into a consensus of what people should be doing for sustainable fishing.

?The next goal was to apply those practices we found in Hawaii and make them apply elsewhere, so we could take what we learned in Hawaii and have an over-arching goal for global sustainable fishing practices.?

Sundt Seminar student Ryan Kirby and his group?s URCAS presentation will focus on socioeconomics, specifically, how climate change affects the financial stability of a place like Hawaii.

?One thing that we were interested in was looking at how environmental policy ? in terms of preserving the corals and continuing economic growth in a sustainable manner ? played out in a place were it was applicable to corals,? Kirby said. ?The people at the coral restoration area we visited were using an economic evaluation tool to help predict the monetary value of corals in specific regions.?

From coral to alfalfa, and from the blue-throated macaw to spiders, URCAS will have much to offer. Sara Kelley?s and Kevin Perez?s presentation will explain the biodiversity of arachnids in the Nutt Grasslands of New Mexico.

?It?s important to monitor the effects of solar facilities on the environment, because that?s the whole point of switching from fossil fuels to renewable energies,? Kelley said. ?We decided to look specifically at arachnids because they?re a stabilizing agent in their habitats in their ecosystem.?

Perez said they are in the preliminary stages of calculating the number of different arachnid families that are found in the northern Chihuahuan Desert area near Hatch, New Mexico. ?We want to determine whether the diversity of spiders changes as you go further out from the solar facility, or if the facility itself has no effect,? he said.

Chaiken encourages the general public, including participants? families, to attend the event.

?Sometimes parents don?t realize the amazing things their kids are doing when they?re here on campus,? Chaiken said. ?It?s nice for them to have that moment of pride and to see their son or daughter talking about their research or presenting a poster or doing some creative performance or reading their poetry.?

Not only are students involved in URCAS from a research perspective, but students in the Art 355 Special Topics in Design honors class designed the artwork for the event. The class focuses on conceptual development, professional practices, advanced typography, portfolio development and client-based projects. Winners of the 2016 URCAS art design contest include Kathryn-Mae Eiland, Jessica Lopez, Daisy Martinez, Hector Sarellano and Miguel Valle.

A highlight of this year?s symposium will be a presentation by Debra Knapp, director of dance at NMSU?s College of Education, who will speak about the research project Methods in Learning Kinesthetically. MILK is being conducted at Fairacres Elementary School and involves research regarding whether using movement while learning helps students retain information better and, in turn, improves grades and test scores. Also, NMSU?s Sol y Arena flamenco and classical Spanish dance company will perform at the event.

?By having the dance program involved, we want to highlight and feature student success on this campus that might not be represented in some other way,? Chaiken said.

URCAS is sponsored by the NMSU Honors College, the New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation, the Minority Access to Research Careers program, the Building Research Achievement in Neuroscience program, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute program, the College Assistance Migrant Program, the Office of the Vice President for Research and the colleges of business, education and engineering.

For more information on the symposium, visit http://honors.nmsu.edu/news/events/urcas, or contact Chaiken at mchaiken@nmsu.edu.