Prepare

Background Information

Presentations

Mentors and Sponsors

Abstracts

General Questions

Background Information

What is the Undergraduate Symposium?
The annual Undergraduate Symposium showcases undergraduate research, achievements, creativity, service-learning and other scholarly activities from all areas of study at UW–Madison including the humanities, fine arts, biological sciences, physical sciences, and social sciences. The Symposium is a great opportunity to celebrate the work of undergraduates and highlight their achievements throughout the campus community.
Who is eligible to present?
All undergraduates enrolled at UW–Madison during the current academic year are eligible to participate, including those graduating in December. Visiting students who are not officially enrolled at UW–Madison, but are currently participating in an undergraduate team research project may present their work as long as one member of the project team is enrolled at UW–Madison and holds undergraduate status.
Who attends this symposium?
Students from across the university attend, as do faculty, staff, and members of the Madison community. You are strongly encouraged to invite your friends and family!
How do I apply?
Click on “Apply” to complete an application to the Undergraduate Symposium. Your application must include:
  • A clearly written abstract (brief summary) or artist’s statement for project.
  • Name and contact information for the mentor or sponsor on this project.
  • You must select your preference for presentation format (poster, talk, art project, film, performance, etc.) and presentation time.
Please note that you will be able to save your in-progress application. The Writing Center offers a variety of workshops and materials to help you prepare your abstract.

Presentations

What would I present?
Most, but not all, presentations are based on projects associated with a class. Students are encouraged to present original work that might interest others. Many students build presentations around a term paper, a research paper, a thesis, an independent study or a service-learning project. Work may either be completed or on-going. We also encourage students in the arts to propose displays, presentations, or performances of their creative work.
Which presentation type should I select?
There are a number of options for presenting your work at the Symposium. They are described below. To accommodate a wider variety of project displays and talks, we will only be able to accommodate 250 posters. In the application you will be asked to select your first, second and third choice for presentation format. You will be notified in mid-March of your assigned presentation format. We understand that undergraduate excellence comes in many colors. If you have an alternative idea please ask!
  1. Poster: Project information will be displayed on a 48" x 48" display board. Posters printed by College Library are 43" x 36". When designing your poster please include the official UW crest beside the title or in the acknowledgements. Print logos may be downloaded from the UW Communications web site.
  2. Art, Digital or Project Display: Art, textiles, digital installations or other tangible products may be displayed. Projects should be accompanied by artist’s statements or project descriptions. Please contact the Undergraduate Symposium Coordinator with any questions or to make special arrangements.
  3. Talk: An individual student or a project team will give a ten-minute talk followed by a five-minute question and answer period about their project. A PC laptop, projector, and internet access will be available. Presentations must be brought to the session on a USB storage drive.
  4. Performance: Live performances will take place during an evening performance workshop. Performances will be limited to 10 minutes and then will be followed by a 5 minute discussion period to field questions about the creative process (15 minutes total). Basic lighting ("general wash") and sound will be provided. In the application please be as detailed as possible when describing the performance and any special considerations we should be aware of.
When do I present?

There are three session times scheduled during the Symposium: 12:30–1:45 p.m.; 2–3:15 p.m.; and 3:30–4:45 p.m. Similar to presentation type, in the application you will be asked to select your first, second and third choice for presentation time. You will be notified in mid-March of your assigned presentation time.  Performances will take place during the evening performance workshop from 5-6:30 p.m.  Students are expected to be present for their entire session time but are encouraged to stay for as much of the day as possible. 

I’ve never done these kinds of presentations. How will I know what to do?
All participants are required to have a mentor or sponsor; he/she will be able to give you advice. In addition, The Writing Center offers a variety of workshops and resources, from writing your abstract to creating a poster to delivering an oral presentation. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of these resources.
Can I present two projects?
Yes, although we recommend that you not present two of your individual projects. In the past, however, students have presented a solo project and a project as part of a group.
Can a group present one project?
Yes, we encourage both individual and collaborative efforts. Please include the names of all members of your project’s team when you fill out the online application. Each project only needs one faculty mentor.
Can I use my Apple laptop for my presentation?

Presenters giving individual talks must use the PC laptops and projectors provided in each concurrent session room. Presentations must be brought on a USB storage drive. Presenters participating in Roundtable sessions or Project Displays are welcome to use their own Apple computers.

Can I present if my research will not be completed by April?
Yes. You do not need your final results in order to present. Students can present research that is still in progress.

Mentors/Sponsors

What is a mentor? Whom do I choose?
A mentor or sponsor is a UW–Madison professor or academic staff member who will advise you on your project, abstract, and poster or presentation. This will usually be the person who taught the class in which you originally did this work or who supervises your independent study, thesis, or project. He or she will help you organize your work into a project format. Your mentor or sponsor will receive your online application submission via e-mail and will be asked to review the abstract. A link will be provided within that e-mail through which mentors or sponsors can confirm whether the project abstract is final or needs additional work. We strongly advise students to work closely with their mentors or sponsors on their projects!
How do I know if my mentor has done what he/she needs to for me to be accepted to the Symposium?
Students should maintain an open and consistent line of communication with their mentors or sponsors. It is the student’s responsibility to make sure the mentor or sponsor has received and approved all the necessary materials to participate in the Symposium.
Can a mentor sponsor more than one student presentation?
Yes.

Abstracts

What is an abstract?
Each participant or team of participants will write a paragraph describing their project. For film, performance and art submissions students may elect to include an artist's statement instead of an abstract. View examples of abstracts from previous years.
What are the requirements for my abstract?
All abstracts must be proof-read and approved by your mentor. Abstracts you submit with your application will be published in the abstract book and must be well proofed. We recommend typing your abstract in a word processing program (such as Word or WordPerfect) and running the spell check. The abstract used for your posters or presentations may be longer than the 125-word limit of the application abstract.
Where can I get help preparing my abstract and other written materials?
We encourage you to visit the Writing Center for classes and online materials to help you prepare your abstract. Abstract-writing workshops will be offered Tuesday, February 11 from 5-6 p.m., and Thursday, February 13 from 12–1 p.m.

General Questions

Is there a timeline I should follow?
The following is a suggested timeline:
September – January: Begin thinking about the Symposium and what you might want to present. You can present work done during the past year, and your research does not need to be complete before you present. You can present an ongoing project.
January – February: Prepare your abstract and complete your online application. Don’t wait until the last minute! Give yourself plenty of time to work with your mentor or sponsor on your abstract and give your mentor or sponsor enough time to review your application. Check the Writing Center for class schedules, abstract-writing workshops, and online resources to help you prepare.
March: Start working on your poster, display, performance, or talk.
April: Put the final touches on your poster, display, film, performance, or talk. Enjoy the Symposium!
How will I receive information and updates about the Symposium?

Communications will be sent via e-mail and posted on the Symposium website. Students should check the website often for updates and watch for e-mails containing important information. In addition, updates and reminders will be posted to the Undergraduate Symposium Facebook page

What if I need to change or add materials to my selected list after I submit?
Please contact the Project Coordinator as soon as possible to insure that the materials you need are available that day. Some materials are only available in limited quantity on a first-come, first-serve basis.
What if I need to change my scheduled time at the Symposium because of class conflicts?

Please note that the Symposium presenters may be able to be excused from a class with advance notice. Contact your professor to determine his/her policy. If you are aware of a conflict, please inform the Coordinator as soon as possible. Once the final schedule is set in mid-March, it is no longer possible to reschedule your presentation.

How late before the Symposium can I e-mail the Coordinator?
Please feel free to contact the Coordinator with any questions or concerns. Try to contact the Coordinator as early as possible to work through any issues. Symposium organizers are very busy the day before and day of the Symposium and will not be checking e-mail on a regular basis.
What if I can’t pick up my poster after the Symposium ends?
We strongly encourage you to pick up your poster or display between 6 and 9 p.m. after the Symposium ends and the reception concludes. You may arrange for a friend to pick it up for you. Any posters or displays not picked up will be discarded. Symposium staff members are not responsible for any damage to your poster or display.