The COVID-19 quarantine is not stopping The University of New Mexico students from pursuing and presenting their research. Dozens of students submitted poster and oral presentations to the online version of the 2020 Undergraduate Research Opportunity Conference at UNM.

The annual Undergraduate Research Opportunity Conference (UROC) is held in April every year to showcase research projects by undergraduate students. The campus-wide event was canceled this year, but participating students were provided the opportunity to submit their presentations online.

The Online UROC includes posters, 10-minute oral presentations, and UROC 180 (180-second presentation to general audience).

"I would like to congratulate the participating undergraduate students who conducted their research and communicated their work in a variety of ways, under the difficult conditions imposed on us by the pandemic,” said Patricia Henning, associate vice president for research, and professor of Physics and Astronomy. “Their creativity, enthusiasm, and perseverance is impressive. I am also grateful to the faculty mentors who guided the students, and supported them as they found their way in research.”

Henning says undergraduates who get involved in research have greater academic success, and students agree.

“Research has empowered me to feel capable of creating meaningful discussions around the issues that I care about the most, while still including the people that are most affected by these problems,” said presenter Monserat Rodriguez-Rico. “I hope that people take the time to check out all the important topics that students are engaging in through research.”

Rodriguez-Rico is a rising junior in Sociology. She has been engaging in research activity through the First Year Research Experience (FYRE) program and the El Puente Research Fellowship during her first and second years at UNM. Rodriguez-Rico will continue her research project on the socialization in foster care and the penal system with the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship for the next two years.

“I am proud of the students who continued their research journeys and shared their fine work with us this year through UROC. I would also like to congratulate the UROC organizers and volunteers who created the alternative UROC, so that our students could have this great experience, including feedback on their research presentations,” Henning concluded. “Thank you for showcasing the wonderful diversity of undergraduate research at UNM.”

The next UROC will be held on April 15, 2021, in the UNM Student Union Building. The UROC is supported by various units on campus and numerous volunteers to recognize the undergraduate student’s accomplishments through research.