The best and brightest minds are right here in New Jersey — and ICFNJ’s Undergraduate Research Symposium showcases their work.
The tremendous academic potential on the campuses of New Jersey’s independent colleges and universities can be summarized in the experience of Sarah West, a Clinical Trial Associate at Novartis. In March, West had the opportunity to interact with a group of ICFNJ scholars as a judge at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS) hosted by the Fund.
“I felt as though I was interacting with the Albert Einsteins of the 21st century,” she said. “I was in awe of the passion and depth with which the students described their research projects. Some conveyed that the area of research they studied had impacted their families. They wanted to work hard to make a difference in that area.”
Each year, ICFNJ-funded scholars conduct in-depth research on a wide variety of topics alongside leading faculty on their campuses. Held at Liberty Science Center, the URS provides these talented students with a forum to present their findings to a team of industry professionals who volunteer to judge the event. This year’s sixth annual event showcased the work of 49 students representing New Jersey’s independent colleges and universities.
Over its six-year history, the URS has supported 225 research projects conducted by 249 students, with 87 faculty members serving as research sponsors. In addition, since the program’s inception, 190 high school students have attended the event to learn about research and serve as evaluators. Early involvement at the high school level helps to feed the talent pipeline and encourages promising students to consider in-state college options.
In addition to providing excellent professional experience for students, the URS offers the unique opportunity to network with judges like West, who want to enhance the visibility of these bright scholars: “We have brilliant students in New Jersey and everyone should be made aware of their intellect. This symposium is very important, because students need opportunities — especially in the STEM fields — to shed light on what’s going on in research today.”