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UW-Eau Claire’s celebration of student research set for April 25-29

| Denise Olson

Photo caption: The last fully in-person CERCA event took place in 2019, pictured above.

Undergraduate collaborative research at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will be celebrated in person once again at the annual Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity (CERCA), where students will present a wide array of projects to the campus and community.

The 30th annual CERCA event will take place from April 25-29 in Davies Center. The CERCA Event Calendar begins on Monday, April 25, and includes the following associated events:

  • Math Retreat: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday, April 25, in Hibbard Humanities Hall, third floor.
  • NOTA presentations: 1-2 p.m., Monday, April 25, in the Council Oak Room of Davies Center.
  • Intercultural Learning and Research: Explorations of Culture and Identity: 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Tuesday, April 26, in the Dakota Ballroom of Davies Center.
  • WiSys Quick Pitch: 4-6 p.m., Tuesday, April 26, in the Woodland Theater of Davies Center.
  • Provost’s Honors Symposium: 1-5:30 p.m., Friday, April 29, on the third floor of Davies Center with a reception sponsored by the Provost's Office at 5:30 p.m. in the Ojibwe Ballroom.

See the CERCA website for a detailed schedule for the week.

As the Center of Excellence for Faculty and Undergraduate Student Research Collaboration in the UW System, UW-Eau Claire continually stands out among peer institutions as a place for undergraduates to experience the highest levels of undergraduate research. Blugold researchers collaborate with expert faculty on the sorts of projects most typically reserved for graduate students. 

Dr. Catherine Chan, executive director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, is pleased to once again be able to host a fully in-person event after two years of only virtual offerings for this important celebration of student research.

“It is so exciting to be able to share and celebrate the accomplishments of research students and mentors during our in-person CERCA this year,” Chan says. “We will have about 250 projects from students in all four colleges presented during the oral and poster presentations, plus many more will be shared during the Provost’s Honors Symposium and an expanded list of CERCA companion events.”

Chan also is extremely pleased to welcome students from Chippewa Valley Technical College to present their work at CERCA. 

“We look forward to inviting the campus and vicinity community to gather during the week to celebrate all the wonderful research, scholarly and creative work that our students and mentors collaboratively undertook during the last year or more,” Chan says.

Samantha Ruppert, a senior communication sciences and disorders major from Fall Creek, is a first-time CERCA presenter, but says she is not nervous. She says that presenting with research partner Paige Marsh will allow the pair to work together to effectively convey their project and findings to interested attendees.

“We examined the role of conversation in fostering cultural awareness, and although presenting in this way is new to us both, we look forward to sharing the information we discovered,” Ruppert says. “It will also be really nice to see the projects from all the other disciplines and learn about so many interesting topics.”

Ruppert says she would recommend all Blugold students take part in collaborative research like what she conducted with Marsh, a fellow senior CSD major from Mondovi.

“In any discipline, this type of research is a great learning and academic opportunity,” Ruppert says. “But it is also a chance to pursue creative passions in ways not offered in all normal class settings, ways that can prepare you for a career.”

For fellow CERCA presenter Sterling Kleist, a senior materials science major from Richland Center, the opportunity to take part in research outside the classroom has proven instrumental in broadening the scope of his knowledge in 3D printing and the ways in which he might help to someday solve industry problems.

“My research in 3D printable bronze and steel is pretty ‘off the grid,’” Kleist says. “It’s still a work in progress in many ways; I’m learning and gaining new experience every day. Doing a project like this has been the fastest and most fun way to learn about the field and grow my knowledge. Reading about this topic in someone’s paper wouldn’t be nearly as useful as being on the front line of the work myself, discovering new information and forging my own path forward.”  

CERCA visitors from campus and the community can stop by the poster display and see projects by students like Kleist, Ruppert and Marsh — compelling research that spans nearly all departments at UW-Eau Claire.

See the CERCA website for a listing and a map of project posters. 

General campus visitors* can obtain a free visitor parking permit by calling the Flesch Family Welcome Center, 127 Roosevelt Ave., at 715-836-2544 Monday-Friday from 7:15 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

* A campus visitor is defined as anyone who is not a current UW-Eau Claire or UW-Eau Claire – Barron County faculty/staff member or student.