Simon Staley, a biological systems engineering major at UC Davis, is part of the undergraduate research conference this weekend on campus. His research is about the solarization of soil by placing a tarp over soil to kill weeds and plant pathogens. Gregory Urquiaga, UC Davis/Courtesy photo

Local News

UC Davis conference showcases undergraduate research

By From page A5 | April 23, 2014

From identifying the effects of Twitter hashtags on the German language to engineering a harp that uses lasers in place of strings, nearly 500 UC Davis, undergraduates will showcase their discoveries and artistic creations on campus Friday and Saturday.

The 25th annual Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Conference is a cornerstone of the undergraduate research experience at UCD, which is ranked ninth among public research universities nationwide.

The public is invited to attend the free event, which will include oral and poster presentations and an arts exhibit. Prospective students and their families interested in learning more about the university are especially welcome.

“It’s going to be like a beehive with people coming and going,” said sophomore Simon Staley of Turlock.

A biological systems engineering major, he will present research that offers an enhanced way to kill weeds and sterilize soil before planting. Analyzing soil samples from test plots, he found that adding organic matter amendments to soil before covering it with a transparent tarp in the sun can, through fermentation, deactivate weeds and speed up the soil sanitation process.

Born in South Africa, Staley said he hopes his undergraduate education and research experiences will prepare him to address food insecurity and farmer poverty in Africa.

Ralph J. Hexter, UCD’s provost and executive vice chancellor, said the conference highlights student talent and achievement from across the campus and is a great learning experience for undergraduates.

“It gives students a rare opportunity to present their research or creative work in a professional setting — the type of experience that can be key to securing admission to graduate school or successfully launching a career,” Hexter said.

About 5,000 undergraduates conduct research in any given year, typically working directly with faculty, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students. UCD offers opportunities for undergraduates to compete for grants and awards and publish their work.

More than 350 faculty members have sponsored or recommended students for participation in the conference, and about 50 campus leaders — including deans, department chairs and faculty — will moderate the oral and poster sessions.

Poster presentations, in which students discuss their work with circulating conference-goers, and the arts exhibit will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday in Freeborn Hall. Oral presentations will run from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday in Wellman Hall.

For more information, visit the Undergraduate Research Center website or email [email protected].

— UC Davis News

Julia Ann Easley

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