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MSU showcases student research in 2024 UURAF

April 13, 2024
Students present their research to a variety of judges, peers, parents, and friends at UURAF 2024 at the Breslin center on April 12, 2024.
Students present their research to a variety of judges, peers, parents, and friends at UURAF 2024 at the Breslin center on April 12, 2024.

The 26th annual University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum, or UURAF, took place at the Breslin Center on April 12 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., where over a thousand undergraduate students presented their work to their peers, MSU faculty, judges and community members both in person and online.

MSU’s office of Undergraduate Research connects undergrads with research mentors, supports them in their projects and oversees the planning of UURAF.

Director of Undergraduate Research Brian Keas said students and staff work all year long to make this event a reality

“It's a celebration of a lot of hard work,” Keaser said. “A student, if you ask them what they're doing, they may tell you for a couple of minutes a summary of their research. But what they're telling you could have taken hundreds and hundreds of hours, perhaps several years of work, and they're condensing that down into something that is new knowledge, that is something that can add value to their discipline, to our community, to our campus. This is a way to celebrate that and to share it with others.”

UURAF is open to all undergraduate students at MSU interested in conducting their own research and the event showcases a wide variety of fields, from science to the arts

Advertising junior Ilijah Dean shared his research on diversity, equity and inclusion in children’s television programs, in which he found answers to questions about how portrayals of diverse characters in STEM media impact the children watching. After conducting his research, writing out the findings and creating a “Sesame Street” inspired poster, Dean practiced his talking points for several days leading up to UURAF. 

“I was very nervous at the beginning,” Dean said. “I had one person come and I was like, reading off a sheet of paper. And after that I was kind of like, ‘okay, I need to stop and like really just like, go for it,’ and since then, I think it's been going really well.”


Dean recommends that students participate in undergraduate research because of how rewarding he has found it to be, and appreciates UURAF for giving him a space to utilize his creativity while sharing his research with the community.

“Right now, I think, the thing that is making me happiest … here is just talking to people,” Dean said. “I'm a very social person also, so just being able to go over my poster and then just answering questions about it is really fun.”


Crop and soil science junior Alethia Pratas presented her research on the physiological impacts of day or night heat stress in cowpea varieties of various heat tolerances. She plans to dive deeper into this area of research and give more presentations during the upcoming summer, and participated in UURAF in order to practice exhibiting her research to an audience.

“It helps with your presentation skills and talking, and people are very receptive,” Pratas said. “As an international student, being able to develop my English better … communication skills are the best.” 


Keas said participation in UURAF is a feat in dedication and scholarship, and should be near the top of students’ resumes. He said he is confident that this experience will continue to help students succeed

“Research and creative activity is something that helps students put together sort of multiple skills and experiences in their career that really prepares them to work independently, work collaboratively with other team members and help them to decide and understand potential future career plans,” Keas said.


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