On Oct. 16, Rice University will host the Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium (GCURS) for the 13th time. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's symposium is planned to be held in a hybrid mode, with some spots open to on-campus presenters while others will present virtually. Accepted students are invited to give a 10-12 minute talk on their research, and receive mentoring from faculty and graduate students.
“GCURS has established itself as a premier venue for undergraduates to share their discoveries and to gain expertise and comfort in formal research presentations,” said Seiichi Matsuda, Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. “We typically welcome over 300 undergrad speakers from roughly two-thirds of the states and perhaps 10 different countries. GCURS is an occasion for our departments to give back to the academic community and mentor people from beyond our hedges. It’s a great opportunity to connect with young scholars from around the country and around the world, and learn about the research done elsewhere.”
Joseph Krause, a recent graduate of Virginia Tech, participated in 2017 and called the event “life-changing.”
“I had an awesome experience,” Krause said, “and the mentoring I received from faculty was incredible. The faculty took time after each talk to give constructive feedback. As a researcher in general, it’s important to be able to do great work but conveying it well is the most important thing, and they really helped us with that.”
GEM Fellow Wesley Combs heard about GCURS from a friend and was excited to present. "GCURS was an exciting event that will foster networking, presenting, and communication skills,” he said. “It gave me an opportunity to hone my presentation preparation and deliverance skills. It also connected me with highly-talented individuals that I still keep in contact with.”
Started in 2009, GCURS seeks to provide an outlet for undergraduate students to exchange ideas, learn about different areas of research, and gain confidence and experience in presenting their own work to a group of their peers. Since the initial event the symposium has grown each year, and last year welcomed over 350 students.
Krause, who began graduate study in materials science at Rice in 2018, said the best part of the day for him was meeting and interacting with faculty on a personal level.
“I think I met almost every faculty member in the department that day and they really gave me an idea of the breadth of materials science, as well as the subject matter I want to study in grad school.”
“A lot of superb Rice graduate students first connected with Rice through GCURS,” Matsuda said. “The current GCURS sections are represented by Engineering and Natural Science, but I hope that departments from other backgrounds will join us going forward.”