FSU hosting ACC ‘Meeting of the Minds’ for undergrad researchers

More than 100 of the brightest undergraduate researchers from all of the Atlantic Coast Conference universities are gathering for the first time at Florida State University on Friday and Saturday at the third annual “ACC Meeting of the Minds.”

Undergraduate research from a broad range of academic disciplines, from the hard sciences to the humanities and fine arts, is being presented in oral and poster presentations, and through exhibits, models and performances April 18-19 at the Student Services Building.

“This conference is in its third year, and we’re pleased to be hosting it,” said D. Craig Filar, associate director of the FSU Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors. “It’s important for our students, these days, to engage in curricular activities outside of the classroom. Doing research is such a wonderful way to do that because it allows the student to engage with a faculty member one-on-one on a project of their own design.”

Take senior Alison Crandal, a fashion merchandising major in the College of Human Sciences, for example. She currently is studying women’s garments from 18th-century France. Not only is she learning why women dressed a certain way at that time, but she also is sewing, by hand, an authentic period garment.

“It’s a typical woman’s dress from that period,” Crandal said. “It is very ornate, has six box pleats from the back of the neck to the ground, and lots of lace, ribbons and trimming. It really exemplifies the Rococo period in France. I’m using the replica as a teaching tool because a lot of the construction techniques aren’t used today.

“I’m also exploring the economic role that this garment played in France,” she said. “It used so much fabric and ran so much of the textile industry that, when it went out of style, a lot of textile companies went out of style, too.”

The Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors, which is a division of Undergraduate Studies, helps undergraduate students such as Crandal to find research experiences and coaches them on how to approach faculty members and the research itself, Filar said. In addition, once undergraduate students have completed their research project, the office helps them find ways to present it.

“This conference is a great example of that,” he said.

But the event features more than student presentations and performances. Three sessions—”What to Expect as a Graduate Student” for seniors, “Why Attend Graduate School?” for freshmen, sophomores and juniors, and “Best Practices in Undergraduate Research” for faculty members—offer practical insights about graduate school and research by undergraduates. Those are set for Friday, 3:30-4:30 p.m., and the university community at large is welcome to attend.

This year, the conference is being chaired by Michelle Bourgeois, director of the FSU Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors, and Karen Laughlin, dean of Undergraduate Studies at FSU.

The conference’s FSU faculty planning committee is composed of Bourgeois and Filar; Helen Burke, director of the FSU Honors Program; Susanne Cappendijk of the College of Medicine; Barry Faulk of the College of Arts and Sciences; Evan Jones of the College of Music; Will Moore of the College of Social Sciences; Jamie Purcell, director of the Office of National Fellowships; Lisa Scott of the College of Communication; and John Sobanjo of the College of Engineering.

To learn more about the conference’s institutional contacts, research areas and presentation types, visit www.undergrad.fsu.edu/ACC.