Undergraduate Research Symposium

Mississippi State University’s Spring 2020 Undergraduate Research Symposium will be Wednesday, April 15, 2020 in the Colvard Student Union.

Research posters will be displayed from 1:00-4:00pm in the Union Ballroom. Poster judging will commence at 1:15pm and will run up to 4:00pm.

Arts and Humanities oral presentations/performances will begin at 1:30pm in the Fowlkes Auditorium on the 3rd floor of the Union.

Download the tentative schedule for the Spring 2020 Symposium.

Submissions are now being accepted!

Submission Deadline: 11:59pm, Wednesday, March 4, 2020


Please visit the Guidelines for Submission and Information for Participants for more information before submitting an abstract.

All undergraduate participants are eligible to win gift card prizes valuing $200 (1st place), $100 (2nd place), and $50 (3rd place) for each research category. The number of awards may differ in each category based on the number of participants. A large part of the project evaluation is being able to answer questions showing a deep understanding of the work that has been done. Additional gift card and cash prizes are available for other competitions held during the Symposium by various sponsoring departments. More information on the other competition categories is outlined below.

There is no fee for students to participate in the Undergraduate Research Symposium, and currently, there is not an acceptance process once a submission form is submitted. All students who complete the registration form with a named faculty mentor are allowed to present, although all student abstracts should be vetted by a faculty research mentor before being submitted. All submissions are automatically entered to compete in the main symposium competition.

Students participating in a group research project are encouraged to submit individual abstracts and present different posters or give separate oral presentations for the same research. Students may submit group projects, however, there should be a designated principal presenter on the day of the symposium. The designated presenter should complete the registration form with his or her name and information. Co-authors and collaborators will be listed in the abstract booklet if included in the form. Prizes are awarded to the principal presenter only.

Upon completion of the entry form, you will receive an email acknowledgement of your registration. If you do not receive a confirmation email, you are not registered.

Parking: All MSU students, staff, and faculty should park in their designated permit area.  Guests and visitors to MSU can either obtain a visitor permit online or visit the Parking & Transit Services office (Roberts Building-412 Lee Boulevard, Mississippi State, MS 39762) once on campus for a parking pass. The first permit online is free. A visitor permit will allow guests to park in any open space on campus except service, reserved, and handicap.

About the Symposium

The Undergraduate Research Symposium is held twice a year in the spring and summer semesters and is open to all undergraduate students engaged in research. The Symposium provides the opportunity for students to showcase faculty-guided, cutting edge research and creative activity by students from diverse departments, colleges, and research centers across campus through poster and oral presentation/performance sessions.

The Undergraduate Research Symposium is hosted by the Shackouls Honors College in collaboration the Center for Community-Engaged Learning (CCEL), the Office of the Provost & Executive Vice President, the Office of Research & Economic Development, the Department of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion, the Graduate School, and in collaboration with undergraduate research programs funded by the National Science Foundation. Prizes for academic areas are being partially supported by Phi Kappa Phi. The Shackouls Honors College has provided summer research support to some of the students presenting with additional funding from Mississippi State University's Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED) and the National Strategic Planning & Analysis Research Center (NSPARC).

In recognition of Mississippi State University's Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, the Undergraduate Research Symposium is pleased to continue to include the Community Engagement Research track in the spring symposium competition, sponsored by the Center for Community-Engaged Learning. There will also be separate competitions in Public Health Research, sponsored by the Department of Food Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion, and a Thesis Research Competition, sponsored by the Graduate School.

All student submissions are automatically entered to compete in the main Symposium competition, but students also have the opportunity to enter to compete in the following competitions:

Community Engagement Research Track

Undergraduate students of all majors: Would you like to be recognized for your community engagement work and have a chance to win a $200 cash prize for your efforts?

You are encouraged to enter the Community Engagement Research Track for the Spring 2020 Undergraduate Research Symposium. For the engagement competition, each abstract will be peer-reviewed and participants will be notified if their proposals have been accepted. Student entries will be presented and judged on April 15, 2020 during the symposium, with prizes awarded for the most outstanding submissions.

Click image to play "What is Community Engagement?" video

For the purpose of the undergraduate research symposium, community engagement is defined as an activity that has an impact on the ability of individuals, groups, or organizations—either public or private—to achieve their intellectual, economic, and/or social goals. Community engagement projects also include activities that contribute to the development of a defined community, governmental initiative, and/or society-at-large within or outside of Mississippi.

Examples of activities that would qualify include but are not limited to:

  • Class projects that provide benefits to specific individuals, groups, or organizations (e.g., market research projects for an entrepreneur starting a new business; rebuilding the homes of victims of natural disasters; participating in efforts focused on environmental conservation).
  • Individual or student organization projects that improve opportunities for advancement and/or quality of life for members of the community (e.g., counseling and training for underperforming elementary students; addressing needs of the disabled or elderly).
  • Local, regional, national, or international projects that promote intercultural understanding or community development (e.g., field trips to assist members of a community to implement a new economic development initiative).

To be considered for entry into the Community Engagement Research Track as part of the symposium competition, complete the Engagement section of the registration form.

If you have questions about the Community Engagement Track, please contact Michelle Garraway at 662-325-2370 or michelle.garraway@msstate.edu.

You can view past winning entries here.


Public Health Research Competition

In celebration of National Public Health Week 2020, the Public Health Research Competition component of the Undergraduate Research Symposium is designed to highlight the important work that undergraduate students at MSU are doing in public health.

Public health research can be any research related to promoting and protecting the health of people and communities (see the American Public Health Association for more information).

To be considered for entry into the Public Health Research Competition as part of the symposium, indicate your interest on the registration form and include a brief statement regarding the implications of your research for public health.

If you have any questions about the Public Health Research Competition, please contact Dr. Holli Seitz at hseitz@comm.msstate.edu.


Thesis Research Competition

The Thesis Research Competition (TRC) is a competition that challenges undergraduate students to present a compelling verbal presentation of their research topic and its significance in just three minutes. The goal of this program is to develop academic, presentation, and research communication skills and support the development of undergraduate students' capacity to describe their research in language appropriate to a public audience.

Students compete by presenting their research topic in three minutes or less. Competitions are judged by a panel comprised of a diverse group of professionals (academic and non-academic) with a wide range of expertise. The TRC will not interfere with judging of the regular Symposium program.

The top twenty students will be selected to present during the symposium and will be sent further details once the selection is made. Students not selected will also be notified.

To be considered for entry into the Thesis Research Competition as part of the symposium, mark that you wish to be considered for the competition on the registration form.

If you have any questions about the Thesis Research Competition, please contact Natalie Parrott at nparrott@grad.msstate.edu.

Grad School Logo

Theta Tau Tomorrow Builder Award

Theta Tau Professional Engineering Fraternity is a co-ed student organization that promotes service, professional development, and brotherhood. Our members are a diverse group from every major in the Bagley College of Engineering, and we strive to become the engineering leaders of the future. We are excited to support an individual in this year's research symposium to receive the Tomorrow Builder Award, which aims to recognize an engineering undergraduate student who uses their skills and research to help solve complex problems of critical importance to society.

Theta Tau members will view student projects during the Symposium that are eligible for the Tomorrow Builder Award and will listen to the research presentations and may ask the student presenter additional questions. The members will deliberate and select a student to receive the award based on their own award criteria.

Theta Tau Logo

Why Participate

Many undergraduates participate in faculty-guided research and creative activity throughout the year. MSU is fortunate to have many faculty that involve undergraduates in research and federally funded research programs. All undergraduates in every program of study, not just honors students, involved in research and creative works are invited and encouraged to participate in the symposium.

To help participants prepare, the Digital Media Center (DMC) at the Mitchell Memorial Library conducts a Conference Poster Design Workshops and offers wide-format printing at a minimal cost. Students can also inquire about poster printing through their home departments or programs.

Participants’ abstracts are published in the Symposium Abstract Booklet, and students can include their presentations on resumes and graduate school applications.

Spring 2019 Symposium Book Cover

Download the Abstract Booklet from the 2019 Spring Undergraduate Research Symposium!

Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.