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Celebration of Excellence in Research + Creative Activity

CERCA will be held April 22-26, 2024

UW-Eau Claire's annual Celebration of Excellence in Research and Creative Activity (CERCA) is a week-long series of events showcasing student research, scholarly, and creative activities. CERCA gives undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to present the results of their research and creative activity. The event highlights student research accomplishments and contributions to the academic community.

Any UW-Eau Claire or UW-Eau Claire-Barron County student engaged in collaborative or independent research or scholarly creative work is eligible to apply. Chippewa Valley Technical College students are also welcome. Researchers in all disciplines are encouraged to apply.

All projects must make new knowledge by building from previous knowledge or creating new perspectives.

CERCA Application Process: Deadline March 1st 

Applications are now closed for CERCA 2024

*If the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the due date will be extended to the following Monday.

See detailed information for each step below.  

1. Decide on a Presentation Format

In conversation with your faculty/staff mentor, decide which presentation format will best suit your research or creative project. CERCA supports five presentation formats:

1. Poster Presentation: A 42" X 46" poster. At least one presenter will be present during their assigned presentation time. Please email if you need access to an electrical outlet and/or bistro table.

2. Oral Presentation: Oral presentations are 12 minutes plus 3 minutes for discussion. These will be grouped by topic. The presentation rooms are equipped with computers and projectors. Creative writing presentations should present a research context alongside other work. Please email if you require any other accommodations or have questions.

3. Art or Other Display with Explanation: For presenting art, hands-on demonstrations, or anything else not conducive to a 'poster only' format, your display should include text explaining the research context for your creative work. At least one presenter should be present during their assigned presentation time. A rectangular table will be provided. please email if you need access to an electrical outlet and/or a standard 42"x46" posterboard. 

Please note: We are unable to provide laptops, computers, or similar technology. You may visit McIntyre Library Student Equipment Checkout for details on renting equipment. If you are presenting a video or film, a "Performance of Film with Lecture" may better fit your needs.

4. Performance: Typically 25 minutes for a musical or theatrical performance which may include a contextualizing lecture. We will do our best to accommodate any needs including using Woodland Theatre. Please contact to discuss details or any accommodations required. 

5. Film with Lecture: Typically 25 minutes for an original film which includes a contextualizing lecture.

*Additional Note: If your presentation is being nominated for the Provost's Honors Symposium, there is no need to also submit to CERCA. If not accepted to the PHS it will be automatically included in CERCA.

2. Write Abstract and Work with Your Mentor to Refine It

A key component to your CERCA application is your abstract (200 words maximum). For details on writing your abstract, please read the Abstract writing guide. Here is a brief summary of what you will find in the guide.

An abstract summarizes the important qualities of your project. Successful abstracts, in every discipline, will typically achieve five key goals:

  1. Title your research/creative project.
  2. State your research question, aim, or scholarly goal. (~1 sentence)
  3. Contextualize your project within existing knowledge or ideas. (~1 sentence)
  4. Describe the methods or approach you used. (~2 sentences)
  5. Describe your main conclusions, outcomes, products, or recommendations or expected outcomes. (~2 sentences)

**If eligible for the Mayo Choice Award, beyond your abstract, please add a brief explanation of how your research will improve patient outcomes. This explanation will not count towards the 200 word abstract maximum.

We strongly encourage you to work with your faculty/staff mentor to develop your abstract. Your mentor will have experience writing abstracts and will share expectations for abstracts in your research area. 

Since your CERCA abstract will be published, it is important to:

  • Use terminology that will be clear to a general, non-expert audience.
  • Define abbreviations not universally understood upon first use (include the abbreviation in parentheses immediately after you first use the term; thereafter, you can use the abbreviation).
  • Be concise and strive for clarity.
  • Carefully proofread your work.
For More Focused Assistance with Your Abstract

The Center for Writing Excellence (CWE) is here to support your CERCA project. Please visit the CWE website for more information about the Center for Writing Excellence's services. If you experience any difficulty when setting up an appointment, or if you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to call 715-836-2644.

**Please note that the CWE takes a conversational approach (not an editorial one).

For more assistance, watch a video of Dr. Rylander presenting an abstract writing workshop!

3. Submit Application
Apply Here

Getting Started: The CERCA application is set up so that the lead student author completes the form and adds the names of all collaborators (faculty and student collaborators).  Once the lead student author submits the form, it will be sent to the primary faculty mentor for approval (or revision) before being sent to ORSP. For independent research/creative activity that wasn't performed with a mentor, please enter the name of a UWEC faculty/staff member who is familiar with your work.

Projects with multiple co-authors: One student should submit an application on behalf of all students involved in a project. Student co-authors should not submit a second application and do not need to formally approve the form.

CERCA Acceptance: Student and faculty collaborators with an email address entered on the form will receive an email notification that the application has been accepted. The lead student is responsible for communicating with collaborators, and correctly including their names on the form. Once you receive the CERCA Acceptance email, begin preparing for CERCA!

Publishing: If you would like your poster to be published in UW-Eau Claire's online repository, Minds@UW, your poster will be preserved and made publicly accessible. Your poster can then be found through Google searches and can have a wider impact in the scholarly community. When completing your CERCA application, the lead student author and primary faculty/staff mentor should both agree to publish in Minds@UW. McIntyre Library staff will then publish your research materials in the repository.   

Preparing Your Presentation for CERCA

The Center for Writing Excellence (CWE) can also help you prepare for CERCA and assist with things like conceptualizing your oral presentation, practicing your presentation, preparing for questions about your oral presentation, etc. To request an appointment, visit the CWE webpage

After you’ve prepared your slide presentation, see below under “Making the Most of CERCA” for more information about being ready on presentation day. 

Preparing a Poster

Poster Preparation: Sign up for a Poster Design Workshop through LTS, contact to request individual training, or watch this poster demo video

Poster Size: The recommended sizing for CERCA posters is 42" x 46" (portrait or landscape). 

Poster Design: Each poster should list the title of the project, the student's name, the faculty mentor’s name, and the department’s name at the top. The acknowledgments section should mention the source(s) of your research funding and University Printing Services (for printing the poster). Posters should also include a current UW-Eau Claire brand and wordmark, which can be downloaded here.

Watch this video for more tips and tricks.

Poster Templates: For current poster templates, go here and log in with your UW-Eau Claire username and password. 

Examples of CERCA Posters: To see examples of posters from past CERCAs, please visit the CERCA collection of MINDS@UW on the McIntyre Library website.

Poster Printing: See the poster printing policy. Posters need to be submitted at least 5 business days in advance. 

The Center for Writing Excellence (CWE) can also help you prepare for CERCA and assist with things like conceptualizing your poster presentations, reviewing poster, engaging visitors with your poster, etc. To request an appointment, visit the CWE webpage

After you’ve prepared your poster, see below under “Making the Most of CERCA” for more information about being ready on presentation day. 

Preparing an Oral Presentation

CERCA oral presentations are 12 minutes plus 3 minutes for discussion. There will be a moderator in attendance to facilitate the session and keep presentations to their allotted time. There may be other requirements for oral presentations that are part of the Latin American and Latinx Studies Capstones, the Math Retreat, the Population Health and Leadership Colloquium, and the Provost’s Honors Symposium. Please check with the coordinators of those events for more information.

PowerPoint Templates: PowerPoint templates for oral presentation slides can be found here. Presentation Slides: Plan to have your presentation slides accessible via your OneDrive or email or a memory stick/jump drive. 

Tips and Tricks for presentations:

  1. Know your audience. Don't assume everyone in the audience understands your topic. Talk about your research in a way that is easily understood and accessible to all.
  2. Focus on your main message. What is the most important thing you want the audience to understand after they listen to your presentation? What do you find most interesting about your project?
  3. Speak slowly and simply. Utilize pauses when presenting and simplify the vocabulary you use. Avoid using confusing jargon and make sure to explain any ideas that are not well known.
  4. Use your visual aids. This will help your audience follow what you are saying.

Preparing a Performance or Film

Films and performances should generally be shorter than 25 minutes. There will be a moderator in attendance to facilitate the session and keep presentations to their allotted time.

Be sure to plan and practice how you will introduce and conclude your film/performance. One idea may be to briefly share your project title, names of project members, and background. 

Making the Most of CERCA

For CERCA Presenters

What to Wear

Dress in the style of business casual. You can find quality used professional attire free for students at the Campus Closet, Brewer Hall 271. 

What to Bring (in addition to your presentation materials)

A water bottle and light jacket or sweater. Consider keeping cell phones in bags and in silent mode to avoid distraction. 

Poster Presenters
  • Engage with visitors to your poster by having some opening lines ready, for example: 
    • Would you like to hear more about my project? 
    • Did you know that [insert interesting fact related to your project]? Would you like to hear more? 
  • Prepare a 45-60 second summary of your poster highlighting the most interesting findings and the impact of your project on society. Chat with your research mentor about this and get their advice about how to present your findings. Think about your project as a story.
  • Bring notes to help remember main points.  
  • You can practice your presentation and get last-minute pointers from the Center for Writing Excellence (CWE) during CERCA: Tuesday – Thursday, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm in the Oneida Room (320D), Davies Center. 
  • Take a few photos and share on social media tagging UWEC and ORSP. Smile and have fun! 
Oral Presenters
  • Practice your presentation on your own and in front of friends and family.  
  • Time your practice presentations to make sure that you finish your presentation in 10-12 minutes (or the time allotted for your presentation based on the email from your event coordinator). Remember that other presenters will be need their allotted time too. 
  • You can practice your talk and get last-minute pointers from the Center for Writing Excellence (CWE) during CERCA: Tuesday – Thursday, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm in the Oneida Room (320D), Davies Center. 
  • The room will be equipped with a computer and projector. Please arrive at the presentation room a few minutes early to load your slide presentation (if you are using one) onto the computer. A flash drive is the recommended way to load your slides; other options include plugging in your own laptop or logging in to access files on a shared drive. A facilitator/moderator will give you time cues and assist with technology use and a tech support phone number will be posted in the room.  
  • Plan on attending the full oral presentation session during which you are presenting; We ask that you not come late to the event even if you are presenting later and please do not leave early even if you present earlier out of courtesy for the other presenters in the session.  
  • Take a few photos and share on social media using tag UWEC. Smile and have fun! 

For CERCA Visitors

Prepare for CERCA by doing one or more of the following
  • Look at the online schedule for CERCA and search for sessions that are of interest to you or search for presentations using key terms. 

  • Ask your professors if there are any CERCA-related assignments or recommended presentations to visit. Please note that new this year, the two poster sessions will have different posters at each session.

  • Ask your friends if they are presenting at CERCA. 

While at CERCA consider doing one or more of the following
  • Visit the presentations that you’ve found by searching the schedule or talking with friends and professors about CERCA. 

  • Walk around the poster sessions and engage with presenters. You will get the most out of talking to those who are presenting. Consider asking presenters questions like the following: 

    • What is the significance of your project? 
    • How did you get involved in this project? 

    • What have you learned from this project? 

  • Attend oral presentations and ask student presenters about their projects using questions like those above. 

Access Professional Development Activities 
  • If you are a student, you can get a free professional headshot; sign up here

  • If you are a student or faculty/staff member, you can earn EDI Tier 2 credit. Students learn more about EDI Tier 2 opportunities here. Faculty/staff learn more about EDI Tier 2 opportunities here.  

  • If you are a student or faculty/staff member, you can learn how to make the most of collaborative research and creative activity on your resume and in job interviews by attending a Career Services workshop.   

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