Symposium of Student Scholars goes virtual

KENNESAW, Ga. | Apr 13, 2020

University pivots to online research presentations

Every year Kennesaw State University hosts the Symposium of Student Scholars, a daylong university-wide conference where undergraduate and graduate researchers present their projects. As other academic conferences across the U.S. are being cancelled or postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Undergraduate Research is using technology to ensure the symposium continues safely and that students do not lose valuable experiential learning opportunities.

“Knowing that this symposium might be the only chance that student researchers will have to show off their hard work this semester, cancelling wasn’t an option,” said Amy Buddie, KSU’s director of undergraduate research and organizer of this annual event. “The symposium is extremely valuable for students to not only present their own work, but also step outside of their disciplines and see everyone else’s work too.”

The event will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on April 16 via Microsoft Teams, a virtual “meeting” platform/app. There will be over 160 sessions – each 15 minutes in length. Presenters will be assigned unique access codes and timeslots for their virtual presentations that will take place in different “rooms.” The symposium is also publicly accessible, so visitors and attendees from high schools and other universities can use these access codes found on the Office of Undergraduate Research website to join the presentations of their choice.

“In a way, this is exciting and opens more opportunities for the symposium,” Buddie said. “Hosting online creates potential for more participation, even outside the university for prospective students, by being more accessible in terms of location, time and availability.”

Agazeet Haile, a first-year student from Lawrenceville studying anthropology, who also will be presenting her research for the first time at an upcoming professional conference via a virtual format, says that this will give her an opportunity to practice.

“I’m glad that the symposium wasn’t cancelled because I am very excited and passionate about presenting and sharing my research with a wider audience,” said Haile, who is researching U.S. curriculum standards for social studies/history. “It will be a great opportunity for me to experience what it’s like to present at an e-conference.”

For Preston Eldridge, a junior chemistry major from Canton, the symposium offers an opportunity for him to still present his research since the cancellation of the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) in late March.

“I think hosting the symposium online is a great idea,” said Eldridge, who is investigating how to combat a pathogen that affects cystic fibrosis patients. “It would be a waste for all of the work students have performed for the symposium to be cancelled, and it allows all the students who were going to present at different conferences that were cancelled to have an opportunity to present.”

Samantha Thompson, a graduate student from Dallas, Georgia, also considers an online conference to be a beneficial opportunity during this time of remote teaching and learning.

“I feel like the symposium going virtual is a good alternative,” said Thompson, who is pursuing a master’s degree in integrative biology. “It still allows for people to present their research to the public and it’s the next best option to being face to face.”

For more information about the Symposium of Student Scholars, visit for the full schedule and list of research presentations. 

Geena Lawrence

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit