KPU conference highlights importance of undergraduate research

Tue, Mar 12, 2024

Undergraduate research will be celebrated this week at a Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) conference organized by students.

Empowering Minds: Inspiring and Showcasing Undergraduate Research, will be held at KPU Surrey on March 15. The conference will explore the significance of research and how it can be supported, covering best practices, strategies, resources and student success stories.

“Our conference will really give students the opportunity to hear from researchers and ask questions, and maybe take it a step further and get inspired to write a research paper,” says Saachi Bansal, an accounting student in the Melville School of Business at KPU and event deputy emcee. “This is the perfect starting point for students to learn and consider if pursuing a research project is for them.”

Two panel discussions for students and faculty will discuss the benefits of undergraduate research and explore mentoring practices. A poster session will allow students to present and discuss their research findings. Conference participants will also take part in a demonstration session, where research resources will be shared.

Students, alumni and faculty from KPU, University of Fraser Valley, Simon Fraser University and Langara College are set to participate.

Student organizers
Saachi Bansal, Kai Barcellos Luna, Melisa Arbocco and Anand Gopal are among the KPU students organizing a conference focused on undergraduate research.

Kai Barcellos Luna, a second-year KPU student and conference emcee, says students often consider research the arena of graduate students or faculty. But for undergrads, research allows practical application of knowledge.

“Theory is one thing, but when you put it into practice, it’s something else,” says Barcellos Luna. “I’ve also noticed that few students have had the opportunity to participate in a panel or poster session. The conference is a low-stakes way of helping them get experience for maybe participating in bigger conferences down the road.”

Research adds value to education and allows students to make valuable connections, adds psychology student Melissa Arbocco, who is handling marketing duties for the event.

“As an undergraduate maybe you don’t understand that clearly, but it’s very useful for your whole life, not only from an academic point of view. Research equals value,” says Arbocco. “This conference will not only give students an idea of available resources, but also make important connections with instructors and peers.”

Entertainment Arts student Anand Gopal, who is in the second year of the Advanced Game Development program at KPU and serving as the conference's digital media specialist, says research allows students to continue to build knowledge in a fast-evolving industry and learn new skills.

“If you want to be unique in your career, if you want to go beyond what you’re just being taught, that’s where research comes in. Especially in my field, you don’t really have too many game developers who have organized conferences. In helping organize this conference, I’ve had the opportunity to work on so many different things that I just could not learn anywhere else.”

Dr. Zahia Marzouk, an Educational Studies instructor at KPU, is supporting students organizing the conference, born out of efforts to improve an online research portal. ArtsNet Research is a Faculty of Arts platform providing support to faculty, students and staff who are engaged in, or interested in, research, scholarship and creativity. 

“Engaging undergraduates in research provides them with learning experiences beyond traditional classrooms and prepares them for the challenges and opportunities after graduation,” says Marzouk.

The free hybrid conference takes place March 15 at the KPU Surrey Conference Centre, 12666 72 Ave. Participants are asked to register in advance.